South Africa

South Africa

Developing Guidelines on South Africa’s Bioprospecting Legal Framework

Jointly with the University of Cape Town’s Environmental Evaluation Unit, Natural Justice is in the process of developing guidelines for making South Africa’s bioprospecting legal framework more user-friendly for stakeholders. While the guide aims to address three principal stakeholder groups, namely, regulators, users of Indigenous biological resources and associated traditional knowledge, and providers of the same, Natural Justice has focused above all on the latter.

The guidelines are being developed for South Africa’s Department for Environmental Affairs, the current focal point for granting bioprospecting permits in the country, and will be published once they have been finalized.

South Africa’s Intellectual Property Amendment Bill

Natural Justice supported a two-day workshop in September 2010 for the South African Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Trade and Industry on the proposed Intellectual Property Law Amendment Bill. The meeting was jointly organized by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the University of Cape Town Intellectual Property Law and Policy Research Unit, with technical input from Natural Justice.

The Portfolio Committee is in the process of reviewing a Bill that aims to amend a range of existing intellectual property rights mechanisms in South Africa, including the South African Copyright Act (1978), Performers Protection Act (1967), Trade Mark Act (1993), and Design Act (1993), in order to include certain forms of traditional knowledge protection under the premises of the respective Acts. Natural Justice provided Committee Members with background on the international and national discussions and frameworks on traditional knowledge protection to support their reflection on the Bill.

The key questions that were at the heart of the debate were to what extent intellectual property laws are suitable for traditional knowledge protection or whether a sui generis system, or a combination of the two, would be more suitable for the ensuring an appropriate protection of traditional knkowledge in South Africa. Since the meeting took place in 2010, Natural Justice has been invited to serve as advisors to the Committee on a regular basis.


African Bio-cultural Community Protocol Initiative Inception Meeting: Working towards the Legal Recognition of Bio-cultural Community Protocols within National Policies (Natural Justice, 2011)
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Meeting of the Representatives of African Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities and Community-based Organisations on Bio-cultural Community Protocols (Natural Justice, 2010)
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Bio-cultural Community Protocols: A Community Approach to Ensuring the Integrity of Environmental Law and Policy (Natural Justice and UNEP, 2009)
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The Bushbuckridge BCP: Traditional Health Practitioners Organise for ABS in South Africa (IIED Participatory Learning and Action 65, 2012)
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Biocultural Community Protocols: Articulating Stewardship, Asserting Rights, Affirming Responsibilities
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The Bushbuckridge Healers’ Path to Justice (Persic and Jonas, 2010)
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Biocultural Community Protocols: Articulating and Asserting Stewardship (Moving Images & Natural Justice, 2012)
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Rooibos Robbery: A Story of Bioprospecting in South Africa (Steps Southern Africa, 2012)
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Maldhari Biocultural Community Protocol Photo Story (Sahjeevan & Natural Justice, 2012)
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Latest Publication

Biocultural Community Protocols: A Toolkit for Community Facilitators
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