Use of global legal mechanisms to conserve local biogenetic resources : problems and prospects

TitleUse of global legal mechanisms to conserve local biogenetic resources : problems and prospects
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsDove MR, Sajise PE, Doolittle AA
Book TitleConserving nature in culture : case studies from Southeast Asia
Chapterp. 279-305.
PublisherYale University Southeast Asia Studies
CityNew Haven, Conn
Call NumberM 2005 A 2664
KeywordsBIODIVERSITY, environmental degradation, ethnic groups, Excerpta Indonesica, indigenous population, INDONESIA, Intellectual property, Kalimantan Barat, law, legal protection, natural resources, Nature conservation, poverty, property rights, resources exploitation

In circles of scholars and activists in the international development and scientific community, there is anxiety over the nature of exploitation by indigenous communities in less developed countries. It has been argued that degradation through exploitation by the indigenous communities is exacerbated by the failure of business and academic communities from the developed countries to recognize and compensate the local communities for managing these resources. A case study of the Melaban Kantu', a tribal people of West Kalimantan, illustrates this problem. This group practices dryland swidden agriculture which a strong emphasis on diversification, planting over a dozen different traditional upland varieties of rice per household as well as cultivating rubber, and various other plants and trees. Their territory contains pockets and strips of primary forest which are protected for variety of economic, ecological, and ritual reasons. One of the mechanisms that have been suggested for putting the recognition and compensation of indigenous resource management into effect is that of Intellectual property rights (IPRs). This article uses a in order to assess the feasibility and of using IPRs as a legal mechanism for this purpose, and to place it in a broader political, economic, and developmental perspective. The author challenges the assumptions underlying the proposal of using IPRs, which assumes the corporation of the indigenous communities into an integrated global system and pays insufficient attention to issues of centre-periphery relations. An analogy with the failure of New Order poverty alleviation programmes show that efforts of trying to reach peripheral communities with IPRs are rendered problematic by the structural position of the intended recipients. The author concludes that any attempt to use IPRs in this manner should problematize this structural position and provide means for addressing it. This should include addressing the question of how the compensation provided will reach and stay in the possession of the local communities.