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Conference topic- Traditional Cultural Expressions and Intellectual Property

World Intellectual Property Organization

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations. It is the global forum for intellectual property services, information, and cooperation. It seeks to develop a balanced, accessible, and effective system for International Intellectual Property, which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation, and contributes to economic development while safeguarding public interests. In our attempt to do so, they also provide IP services that encourage individuals and businesses to innovate and create.

WIPO was created in 1967 “to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world”. The 1967 WIPO Convention also outlines the mandate, governing bodies, and procedures that are used to do so. In order to ensure credibility, accountability, and transparency, some 250 non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations are given “official observer status” at all WIPO meetings. 

It is crucial that Intellectual property is protected as it is a financial resource and is often a make-or-break factor in many businesses and corporations, both big and small. However, Intellectual property is also an incredibly complex asset, and protecting is even more so, as it is often intangible. Insofar, many laws on Intellectual Property can restrict and hinder the creative process and therefore discourage innovation. As such, WIPO’s laws often contradict their own objectives. Therefore, by simulating the WIPO, we hope that delegates gain an understanding of their rights as creators and how to respect intellectual property. 

Among the cesspool of IPs, Traditional Cultural Expressions(TCE) are often forgotten. TCEs refer to artistic expressions pertaining to a significant culture. These may include handicrafts, art, design, names, signs and symbols, architectural styles, and performance art such as music, dance, folklore, performances, ceremonies, and rituals. They form and nourish the identity and heritage of various communities, most of which may be facing extinction. Although TCEs may not have great commercial value, they embody the savoir-faire and pass on core principles and values. Accordingly, cultural diversity and cultural heritage depend immensely on their protection. That is precisely why “Traditional Cultural Expressions and Intellectual Property” was chosen as this year’s topic for WIPO at SLMUN.