IFLA Statement on Indigenous Traditional Knowledge

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IFLA (The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) declares that human beings have a fundamental right to access to expressions of knowledge, creative thought and intellectual activity, and to express their views publicly.

IFLA acknowledges the intrinsic value and importance of indigenous traditional knowledge and local community knowledge, and the need to consider it holistically in spite of contested conceptual definitions and uses.

IFLA furthermore notes the need

  • To recognize the significance, relevance and value of integrating both indigenous traditional knowledge and local community knowledge in providing solutions to some of the most difficult modern issues and encourages its use in project planning and implementation.
  • To protect indigenous traditional knowledge and local traditional knowledge for the benefit of indigenous peoples as well as for the benefit of the rest of the world. It is vulnerable both because it is exploitable and has been exploited, and because of the loss of Elders and the significant decline in emphasis on transmission of this knowledge to younger generations in the face of pressures for modernisation.
  • To implement effective mechanisms for technology transfer, capacity building, and protection against exploitation in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity, the ILO Convention 169 and other conventions relating to sustainable development and the interests of indigenous peoples.

IFLA recognizes that the character of indigenous traditional knowledge does not lend itself to print, electronic or audiovisual means of recording but, in order to ensure its continuing preservation, access and elaboration recommends that libraries and archives:

  1. Implement programs to collect, preserve and disseminate indigenous and local traditional knowledge resources.
  2. Make available and promote information resources which support research and learning about indigenous and local traditional knowledge, its importance and use in modern society.
  3. Publicize the value, contribution, and importance of indigenous and local traditional knowledge to both non-indigenous and indigenous peoples.
  4. Involve Elders and communities in the production of resources and teaching children to understand and appreciate the traditional knowledge background and sense identity that is associated with indigenous knowledge systems.
  5. Urge governments to ensure the exemption from value added taxes of books and other recording media on indigenous and local traditional knowledge.
  6. Encourage the recognition of principles of intellectual property to ensure the proper protection and use of indigenous traditional knowledge and products derived from it.

Based on a resolution of the 15th Standing Conference for Eastern, Central and Southern African Library Associations (SCECSAL) 2002.
Approved by the Governing Board of IFLA, December 2002, The Hague, Netherlands.

Statements, Traditional knowledge, Indigenous knowledge, Cultural heritage

Last update: 14 May 2014