Traditional Knowledge at the UN


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The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It was established to deal with indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. The UNPFII met for its 18th session in New York on April 22 – May 3, 2019 to discuss traditional knowledge and its generation, transmission, and protection.

photo of man and woman outside

Gottschalk and Noe at UNPFII (April 23, 2019)

On April 23, NARF Staff Attorneys Sue Noe and Kim Jerome Gottschalk, representing the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), submitted a statement on the importance of international attention to traditional knowledge (linked document includes English/Spanish versions). From the statement:

It is crucial to have this discussion on traditional knowledge because of the important contributions traditional knowledge makes to the world, because of the vulnerability of traditional knowledge to misappropriation, and because of the undermining of the traditional context in which such knowledge is generated and transmitted.

The statement goes on to makes recommendations for the participation of indigenous representatives and protection of traditional knowledge.

Watch NARF Staff Attorney Sue Noe give a summary of the statement at the UNPFII meeting:

Read more about our ongoing work advancing indigenous participation at the United Nations.

Read also about our work on the topic of traditional knowledge in the context of the World Intellectual Property Organization.