Community Protocols

Imagining a Traditional Knowledge Commons

A community approach to sharing traditional knowledge for non-commercial research

In August 2009, around 80 traditional healers living in the Bushbuckridge area of the Mpumalanga province in South Africa developed a biocultural community protocol which provided clear terms and conditions for access to their collectively held traditional knowledge (TK).

The motivation for the biocultural protocol was an attempt by these traditional healers to assert their rights over their TK under Article 8(j) of the CBD and the concomitant South African ABS law. While the biocultural protocol itself sought to regulate access to their TK based on their biospiritual virtues, what was more interesting was the process of deep introspection that the biocultural protocol triggered within this community about the nature of their knowledge.

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