Potential International Approaches to Ownership/Control of Human Genetic Resources

Health Care Analysis 24 (3):260-277 (2016)
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Abstract

In its governance activities for genetic resources, the international community has adopted various approaches to their ownership, including: free access; common heritage of mankind; intellectual property rights; and state sovereign rights. They have also created systems which combine elements of these approaches. While governance of plant and animal genetic resources is well-established internationally, there has not yet been a clear approach selected for human genetic resources. Based on assessment of the goals which international governance of human genetic resources ought to serve, and the implications for how they will be accessed and utilised, it is argued that common heritage of mankind will be the most appropriate approach to adopt to their ownership/control. It does this with the aim of stimulating discussion in this area and providing a starting point for deeper consideration of how a common heritage of mankind, or similar, regime for human genetic resources would function and be implemented.

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