I pin my hopes to quiet processes and small circles, in which vital and transforming events take place.
Rufus Jones, Quaker Faith and Practice, Britain Yearly Meeting, 1995:24.56
From 2001 until 2008, the Quaker International Affairs Programme (QIAP) (a special program of CFSC described below) worked on trade and intellectual property issues. In the last 20 years, new rules on the scope and territorial extent for intellectual property rights (patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc.) expanded beyond national and existing multilateral arenas (i.e. World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)) to bilateral, regional and World Trade Organization (WTO) trade agreements.
These new rules apply to a range of biologically based materials, including life forms (such as microorganisms, seeds and plants), that many countries may not have previously been obliged to protect.
This will impact key development areas important for social and economic prosperity such as: food security, agriculture and access to genetic resources, biodiversity, environment, health and access to essential medicines, and the protection of traditional knowledge, folklore and cultural property.
QIAP’s aim was to enhance the fairness of the negotiating process by providing information to decisions-makers and facilitating off-the-record dialogue. In 2008, the Quaker International Affairs Programme (QIAP) began the transition from work on trade and intellectual property issues to work on the commons.
QIAP’s many publications are available below as PDFs.
The Quaker International Affairs Programme (QIAP) arose from the concerns of Canadian Quakers and its priorities were determined, in part, by the agendas of the organizations and participants with which QIAP worked. QIAP’s work was supported by CFSC, Canadian Yearly Meeting, Monthly Meetings across Canada, the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva, other groups and individuals. QIAP’s work was also supported by grants from the: Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA); International Development Research Centre (IDRC); Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS); Peace Research Institute – Dundas (PRI-D); and the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID).
QIAP employed a facilitative, non-partisan methodology used by the Quaker United Nations Offices in Geneva and New York. The methodology brings information and various perspectives to decision-makers, along with opportunities for informal and off-the-record dialogue and works with stakeholders on all sides of an issue.
QIAP worked with many different organizations including Quaker agencies; government officials and diplomats; intergovernmental officials (United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, etc.); civil society groups; groups directly affected by an issue or conflict (e.g. Indigenous peoples); and academics and experts.
The Future Control of Food: A Guide to International Negotiations and Rules on Intellectual Property, Biodiversity and Food Security, edited by Geoff Tansey and Tasmin Rajotte
(The views expressed in the following articles are the personal views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of CFSC)