Towards a Regional Policy and Legal Instrument for the Protection of Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Southern Africa

Towards a Regional Policy and Legal Instrument for the Protection of Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Southern Africa

Amos Saurombe
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0838-0.ch002
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This study was conceived as a result of growing frustration at the slow pace of development for a harmonised policy and legal instrument for the protection of IKS in SADC. The problems related to the protection of IKS will remain unless there is a clear policy and legal basis to address it. SADC consists of 15 countries whose main mandate is to harmonise their social, political and economic policies for the benefit of the citizens of Southern Africa. This chapter argues that the exercise of harmonisation is long overdue. Member states like South Africa have proven that if there is political will on the part of member states, the protection of IKS is possible through the development of relevant policies and legal instruments. This study was done through a desktop analysis of Treaty provisions, policy documents and country specific legislation. The main findings of the study indicated that the lack of protection of IKS is a major challenge that requires a regional approach. These findings led to the proposition for an urgent harmonised regional approach to the protection of IKS in SADC.
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This chapter is largely theoretical, with the research data being drawn from processes and experience of policy and legislation formulation in selected SADC countries. Based on a historical narrative design, the study employed qualitative content analysis of policy documents and related legislation. The document study was supplemented by a review of related literature. Kothari (2004) describes content analysis as the method used to analyse the contents of documentary materials, in this case policy documents and pieces of legislation. Firstly, a historical narrative is given of the SADC as an international organisation. This data was searched online. It is worth noting that the policy documents of certain SADC countries could not be found online. This might be due to the fact that these other countries are non-English speaking and the researchers might have missed the policy documents and legislation written in other languages, such as Portuguese and French. From the policy documents and pieces of legislation identified, only that of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, Lesotho, Zambia and Zimbabwe were analysed. The analysis included the examination of policy and legislation protecting IKS in the SADC region.

Key Terms in this Chapter

SPGRC: SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre.

UN: United Nations.

IK: Indigenous Knowledge.

Nhlapo Commission: A Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims.

IGC: Intergovernmental Committee.

SADC Ministerial Council: An official assembly of SADC Ministers, mainly made up of Foreign Affairs ministers responsible.

AU: African Union is an International organization of 54 countries founded as the Organization of African Unity to promote cooperation among the independent nations of Africa.

UNCTAD: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

SADC: Southern African Development Community.

MTHUO: Malawi Traditional Healers Umbrella Organisation.

IKS: Indigenous knowledge systems.

Vienna Convention: The founding treaty on how international agreements are made.

NHRS: National Heritage Research Section.

MALA: Malawi Library Association.

DST: Department of Science & Technology.

WTO: World Trade organisation.

Africa IP Forum: A forum for Intellectual Property and Economic Growth and Development in Africa.

NIKSO: National Indigenous Knowledge Systems Office.

IDESA: Innovation for Development Association.

CBD: Convention on Biodiversity.

MTA: Multilateral Transfer Agreement.

UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

WIPO: World intellectual Property Organisation.

SADC Secretariat: The official and legal office of the organisation responsible for SADC daily activities.

BIT: Bilateral Investment Treaty.

Protocol: A legal instrument founded on the premise to fulfil SADC Treaty obligations.

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