United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

 

There are international guiding principles protecting Indigenous intellectual property rights, such as the following sections from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Other useful documents are listed in Appendix 1.

 

Article 11

  1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practice and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.

  2. States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with Indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.

 

Article 12

  1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains.

  2. States shall seek to enable the access and/or repatriation of ceremonial objects and human remains in their possession through fair, transparent and effective mechanisms developed in conjunction with Indigenous peoples concerned.

 

Article 31

  1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and Traditional Cultural Expressions.

  2. In conjunction with Indigenous peoples, states shall take effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights.