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Whose access and whose benefit? Securing customary rights in India (PLA 65)

Sagari R. Ramdas

Journal article

This article discusses the limitations of the Nagoya Protocol from the perspective of communities in India. As it promotes access to genetic resources for commercial use, the Protocol is grounded in the exclusive intellectual property rights framework. Yet in the worldview of Adivasi and pastoralist communities, natural and genetic resources and traditional knowledge form the basis of existence and are sustained through collectivism and spirituality for future generations, and cannot be reduced to a commodity.

Although the provisions on prior informed consent (PIC) and community protocols provide space for communities to assert their own worldview, they are subject to domestic law. This is a severe limitation as none of India’s ABS-related laws and institutions require PIC or community protocols. Instead, Adivasis and pastoralists are using indigenous rights laws to defend their customary rights.

This article appears in Participatory Learning and Action 65 on Biodiversity and culture: exploring community protocols, rights and consent.

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