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‘Poisoned Chalice’: Law on Access to Biological and Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge in Namibia

1
Justice Training Centre, University of Namibia, Private Bag 13301, Windhoek, Namibia
2
Formerly, Faculty of Law, Department of Commercial Law, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
3
Faculty of Science, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Namibia, Private Bag 13301, Windhoek, Namibia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Resources 2020, 9(7), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources9070083
Received: 28 August 2018 / Revised: 22 October 2018 / Accepted: 24 October 2018 / Published: 3 July 2020
Many countries in Africa provide ethnobiological resources (more especially ethnomedicinal plants), which are converted by companies and users from developed countries into biopharmaceutical products without any monetary benefits to the countries of origin. To mitigate the lack of benefits, African countries are beginning to enact access and benefit-sharing (ABS) legislation, though their wheels turn very slowly. Since many African ABS laws have not been appraised for their feasibility, this paper presents a contextual analysis of Namibia’s new ABS law: The Access to Biological and Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge Act No. 2 of 27 June 2017. Even if several international conventions on ABS and local institutional structures guided the evolution of the 2017 Act, the main drivers for the enactment of the ABS legislation in Namibia are: Inequitable sharing of monetary benefits from the green economy, putative, but unproven cases of biopiracy, and political power contestations over ethnobiological resources. A critical analysis of important challenges faced by Namibia’s new ABS law include: Lack of adequate participatory consultations and technical capacity at the local level, discount of the non-commodity cultural value of TK, ambiguous and narrow definition of the term ‘community’, lack of a clause on confidentiality, and assertions that the new ABS law negatively impacts research in Namibian universities and botanic gardens. In contrast to South Africa’s ABS law, Namibia’s law is more onerous because it does not differentiate between commercial and non-commercial research. View Full-Text
Keywords: access; benefit-sharing; ethnobiological resources; traditional knowledge; Namibia access; benefit-sharing; ethnobiological resources; traditional knowledge; Namibia
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MDPI and ACS Style

Chinsembu, W.W.; Chinsembu, K.C. ‘Poisoned Chalice’: Law on Access to Biological and Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge in Namibia. Resources 2020, 9, 83. https://doi.org/10.3390/resources9070083

AMA Style

Chinsembu WW, Chinsembu KC. ‘Poisoned Chalice’: Law on Access to Biological and Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge in Namibia. Resources. 2020; 9(7):83. https://doi.org/10.3390/resources9070083

Chicago/Turabian Style

Chinsembu, Wana W., and Kazhila C. Chinsembu 2020. "‘Poisoned Chalice’: Law on Access to Biological and Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge in Namibia" Resources 9, no. 7: 83. https://doi.org/10.3390/resources9070083

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