Aid, Trade and Taboo- The Place of Indigenous Traditional Knowledge in Development Strategies: A Pacific Perspective

20 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2012

See all articles by Susan Farran

Susan Farran

Northumbria University; University of the South Pacific

Date Written: September 4, 2010


There is pressure from the developed world and indeed from within the under-developed/developing world to put in place IP regimes which are trade and investment friendly, and, primarily, based on western models of intellectual property rights, economic values and social organization. Pacific island countries are examples of some of the least developed nations in the world. In order to improve their economic performance they are being urged to enter EU-ACP partnerships, to join the WTO, to sign up to international conventions and in general to put their intellectual property regimes in order to support twenty-first century initiatives and WIPO criteria. Yet these countries have long-standing traditional ways of safeguarding intellectual property associated with their culture, with survival and with community cohesion. Along with many other indigenous people, they are discovering that recognition of the rights of indigenous people does not always translate into recognition of traditional knowledge or protection of the various forms of property and resources which are important to them. Nor do the protections which are introduced necessarily benefit them, and in some cases may adversely affect them. This paper uses examples from Pacific island countries to highlight the present failure of national and trans-national intellectual property regimes to acknowledge and incorporate traditional protections and approaches to indigenous knowledge and practice, and considers possible outcomes from this.

Keywords: intellectual property, traditional knowledge, aid, trade, Pacific

JEL Classification: Z10, O10, N57, N17, O56, K00

Suggested Citation

Farran, Susan, Aid, Trade and Taboo- The Place of Indigenous Traditional Knowledge in Development Strategies: A Pacific Perspective (September 4, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Susan Farran (Contact Author)

Northumbria University ( email )

City Campus East
208, City Campus East-1
Newcastle upon tyne, NE1 8ST
United Kingdom

University of the South Pacific ( email )

Laucala Campus

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