Protection of Folklore

    The study of the legal protection of traditional and popular culture, commonly referred to as folklore, was greatly expanded in 1999.

    One subregional symposium and four regional consultations were organized in pursuance of the Plan of Action adopted by the UNESCO/WIPO World Forum on the Protection of Folklore, organized at Phuket, Thailand, in cooperation with the Thai Government, from 8 to 10 April 1997.

    The Symposium on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Indigenous Cultures in the Pacific Islands was organized in cooperation with the General Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and the four regional consultations on the protection of expressions of folklore were organized in cooperation with WIPO:

  • for Africa, in Pretoria, from 23 to 25 March 1999,
  • for the Asia-Pacific region, in Hanoi, from 21 to 23 April 1999,
  • for the Arab States, in Tunis, from 25 to 27 May 1999,
  • for Latin America and the Caribbean, in Quito, from 14 to 16 June 1999.
  • Representatives of 83 States and observers from 21 regional intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations took part in these meetings.

    The aims of these regional consultations were:

  • to take stock of national experience relating to legal protection and to the identification, preservation, conservation and dissemination of folklore, and of the need for States to involve society as a whole more fully in the safeguarding of this heritage;
  • to explore the most appropriate legal means of ensuring effective national protection of both aspects of this heritage: traditional artistic expressions and traditional knowledge, constantly in danger of dying out, of prejudicial distortion and unwanted economic exploitation;
  • to explore possibilities of providing international legal protection for this heritage through the existing regime of treaty norms for intellectual property protection, and the need to devise a new form of international protection that is more specific, more operational and more practicable, and that will achieve a broad consensus among both the developing and the industrialized countries; 
  • to target the priority measures of practical assistance that the international community should take to assist developing countries in their efforts to ensure the legal protection as well as the preservation and conservation of this rich heritage of humanity.
  • The results of the work of these regional meetings are illustrated in the summary of the discussions and the Final Declaration adopted at each of the meetings.