GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Dina Widyaputri
Title of Paper:
Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Heritage Protection in the Arabian Gulf
Paper Proposal Text :

This presentation will examine the intellectual property rights frameworks of the GCC members states for the protection of traditional knowledge and cultural heritage. It will examine the challenges facing the authorities in achieving an equitable balance between these protection frameworks and increasing pressures to adhere to foreign exploitation regimes driven by self-interest. As comparative study, it will also discuss the above issues from the Indonesian perspective.

These foreign regimes are enshrined in a western-industrialised protectionist paradigm in which traditional knowledge and cultural heritage are hardly acknowledged or represented. The dominant characteristic of these regimes is that intellectual property is essentially a right private in nature and ascribable, identifiable, and commercially exploitable. Rights which do not fit within this framework - notably cultural heritage in the broadest sense - enjoy little if any of the protection offered by the global benchmark on intellectual property rights, namely the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or other successive multilateral and bilateral trade agreements with intellectual property provisions.

Traditional knowledge, folklore and cultural heritage are complex, multifaceted concepts that encompass many elements. They are characterized by the fact that, generally, they are not produced systematically primarily with an exploitative or commercial outcome as an objective, but in accordance with the individual or collective creators\' responses to and interaction with their socio-cultural environment. As representatives or expressions of cultural/religious values, they may constitute elements that integrate a vast and mostly coherent complex of beliefs and knowledge. More than likely they will be held collectively, being vested in the community rather than in individuals. Furthermore, they are mostly transmitted orally from generation to generation, and thus may remain in part undocumented. They are also dynamic in the sense that they are current, possess everyday relevance, and are subject to processes of constant evolution. Accordingly, existing intellectual property mechanisms, which are intended to function in a trade-related, private protectionist context, do not fully respond to the essential nature of traditional knowledge and cultural heritage.

The status of the GCC member states, collectively and individually, as countries of growing influence and presence in global and regional politics and trade. But this creates a dilemma. On the one hand, the states have an opportunity to develop effective intellectual property protection regimes that can be aligned with domestic developmental objectives that address their rich and complex cultural heritages. On the other hand, it places them under pressure to join the other influential and key regional trading nations to adhere to a recent round of global and regional trade agreements that incorporate ever increasing levels of intellectual property rights protection within the exploitative paradigm.

These recent and proposed trade agreement, such as the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement (TPPA), and Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), for example, although not directly involving any of the GCC member states, will no doubt have a flow-on effect upon intellectual property rights protection standards generally and tradition knowledge and cultural heritage specifically. The EU-GCC Free Trade Agreement, on the other hand, does impact directly, and will contain provisions and conditions which will firmly set the climate for future regional traditional knowledge and cultural heritage protection, or non-protection, as the case may be. This presentation will examine the implications of both these agreements, and similar international and regional agreement for the GCC member states’ cultural heritage legacy.