Globally, Indigenous Peoples have disproportionately experienced the adverse consequences of colonization. They face discrimination and marginalization because of their distinct cultures and ways of life. It is a fundamental human right that Indigenous Peoples maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property, including traditional knowledge, cultural expression and cultural heritage.
In many countries (particularly Western nations), intellectual property laws protect individual property rights. This is a result of the commercialization of knowledge and products that can foster economic growth. However, these laws are limited in their ability to recognize and protect collective ownership. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was introduced to reduce threats to the maintenance and enjoyment of culture. Failing to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples’ collective ownership of intellectual property breaches the Declaration, and may lead to a loss of identity and culture.
Businesses should adopt the standards in the Declaration through policy statements or guidelines. Businesses should be respectful of Indigenous Peoples’ intellectual property, and actively acknowledge their ownership.