University Extension Programs to Promote the Traditional Knowledge of Marginalised Rural Communities in the ASEAN Region




Traditional knowledge, innovation, university outreach, marginalised communities, ASEAN


Many indigenous and marginalised communities, particularly those in tropical regions, traditionally use herbs and medicinal plants to treat various illnesses and disorders. This “traditional knowledge” requires protection. Unfortunately, the World Intellectual Property Organization members have been unable to agree on a definition. However, member states have acted in concert with other members or independently. Initially, the paper analyses the legal instruments utilised by each of the ten countries of ASEAN to protect and promote traditional knowledge. For instance, in 1999, Thailand legislated its Protection and Promotion of Traditional Thai Medicinal Intelligence Act and Plant Varieties Protection Act. The World Health Organization recognises the role of herbal medicines. Universities can play a pivotal role in working with the local communities for the common good and including the community in the rewards from any commercial production. Roles for universities require personnel with the ability to work with local communities and gain their confidence and trust. This knowledge obtained from the community will be held in high regard. Nevertheless, its pharmacology and efficacy must be tested. Universities can also play a role in every step of product development. Finally, examples of successful roles provided by universities and other research institutions are presented. Such projects require a comprehensive team of specialists with a variety of skills, such as scientists, agriculturalists, pharmacists, medical practitioners, intellectual property lawyers, and business development and marketing specialists. Finally, any research and development activities must acknowledge traditional knowledge holders.

Author Biographies

Nucharee Nuchkoom Smith, +66915645450

Dr Nucharee Nuchkoom Smith is an Assistant Professor in International Law at the Chalermphrakiat Sakon Nakhon Province Campus, Kasetsart University, Thailand. She has undertaken post. She has completed post-graduate study in political science and law. She was previously a legal officer in the House of Representatives, Thailand.  

Robert Smith, School of Law, University of New England, Armidale NSW 2351 Australia

Dr Robert Smith graduated with a BSc in 1969 and has undertaken postgraduate studies in Education, Engineering and Law. He holds a PhD in engineering and is currently a PhD candidate in law at the University of New England, Australia and an international development consultant working in Southeast and South Asia.