Statement by H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in
49th Series of Meetings of the WIPO Assemblies
September 27, 2011
1. Let me start by presenting you our congratulations for your election as the chair of the General Assembly and I extend them to your two vice chairs. My Delegation is confident that under your leadership we will be able to reach a positive outcome.
2. Allow me also to express our support for the efforts of the Director General and his staff in encouraging innovation and creativity over the last year in all the regions of the world, while promoting a balanced and effective international intellectual property system.
4. Since the last Assemblies, meaningful and hopeful progress has taken place in various substantive sectors of the Organization, such as the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP), the Intergovernmental Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). The Strategic Realignment Program (SRP) has been refined and its progressive implementation shared through informative briefings offered by the Secretariat.
6. The rapid development of technology in the area of the media is surely one of the signs of advancement in today’s society; it is also a challenge for the Member States of this Organization that have to undertake a particular effort to face it. The Holy See, as a practical demonstration of its commitment and recognizing the lead role played by Copyright, has updated its legislation in this field by adopting a new law. Such a decision shows the significant role played by intellectual property in this State.
7. During the last biennium, the Intergovernmental Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) undertook a tremendous effort towards the development of an international protection instrument and during the last session it has elaborated a proposal for a renewal of its mandate. The Holy See remains engaged in this Committee and would like to underline a few elements:
· intellectual manifestations of tradition or folklore deserve recognition first, because they constitute a means of constructing and projecting the identity of the members of the community concerned and, second, because they are a common asset of that same community, which has grown by small, anonymous contributions over many generations;
· many biological resources bearing great economic and social usefulness are located in territories inhabited since time immemorial by native communities within the jurisdiction of countries other than those where industrial development of genetic material takes place and patents are obtained. Those native communities already have some knowledge and make use of some of the biological properties protected by patents. Indigenous Communities' ancestral concern for the soil needs to be considered: it generates a right to its use and usufruct. This right extends also to the plants and animals of a territory. Consequently, the biological environment tends to be closely associated with the culture of local people, and constitutes an integral factor of their identity and social cohesion. Native populations' rights over the land and its fruits exist, and have to be protected, even where modern systems of property protection — both movable and immovable property such as intellectual property—do not foresee their recognition and protection to a sufficient extent.
I would like to conclude by reaffirming the right to private property and in particular to intellectual property. This right is under a ‘social mortgage,’ for the satisfaction of essential human needs. It has an intrinsically social function, which is justified precisely by the principle of the universal destination of goods. The universal destination of goods represent the sum total of social conditions which allow social groups and their individual members to arrive at their own fulfilment. The common good, however, is realized if solidarity prevails. In our globalized world, an equitable relationship with others is a must since we are all really responsible for all.
 23. Cf. Pius XII, Radio Message, Christmas Eve,
1944, A.A.S. XXXVII, 1945, p. 12
 Law on the protection of copyright and related rights, March 2011 n.CXXXII.
 WIPO/GRTKF/IC/1/7 Cf. ILO, C-169, Articles 13 to 18. Cf. Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” “Towards Better Land Distribution — the Challenge of Agrarian Reform,”
1997, paragraph 11. Pontifical Council
“Justice and Peace,” Indigenous Peoples in the Teaching of John Paul II, Vatican City 1993, p.
22. Vatican City
 Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, n.42.