The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) entered into force in 1994, creating a free trade zone between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Renegotiation of the text of the NAFTA was launched in August 2017, and is expected to progress rapidly to completion early next year.
Traditional knowledge including traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources were not directly addressed under the 1994 NAFTA. The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs is seeking to include an Indigenous chapter in the renegotiated NAFTA, but what it would contain remains uncertain.This roundtable provides an important forum for Indigenous leaders and experts from the United States, Mexico and Canada, to discuss how to make sure that the objectives of NAFTA in promoting freer trade foster and promote the contribution of Indigenous peoples to the North American innovation economy and do not undermine the protection of Indigenous knowledge.
Oonagh E. Fitzgerald was director of international law at CIGI from April 2014 to February 2020. In this role, she established and oversaw CIGI’s international law research agenda, which included policy-relevant research on issues of international economic law, environmental law, IP law and innovation, and Indigenous law.
Bassem Awad is a senior fellow and was previously the deputy director of International Intellectual Property Law and Innovation at CIGI.
Christina Gray is a senior research associate with the International Law Research Program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation.