Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Convention sur la diversité culturelle : «nous voulons que l'unesco soit à la culture ce que l' omc est au commerce»

M. JEAN-PIERRE BLAIS, Sous-ministre adjoint - Ministère du Patrimoine canadien

Opatija, Croatie, 20 octobre 2003 - 2003/10/20

Commenting at the Conference of European Ministers responsible for Cultural Affairs held from October 20 to 22 in Opatija, Mr. Blais affirmed that “culture is not a ‘commodity,’ and consequently it needs special policies.” He went on to say that Canada “would like UNESCO to do for culture what the WTO does for trade.” Mr. Blais also noted that the draft convention, which has received virtually unanimous support from UNESCO member states, “is intended to enable all countries to conduct their own cultural policies, even if these run counter to the principles of the WTO.” For example, Canadian government subsidies in this area are “designed to promote the unique features of Canadian culture.” For Mr. Blais, “this cultural requirement should not be governed by the same rules as other trade sectors.” Recognizing that “many countries are now facing similar problems with regard to support for publishers, artists, or museums,” he added that the aim of the convention on cultural diversity is to “give a voice to all cultures, and certainly not to promote ‘national’ policies alone. At the same time, of course, we must continue to open up to the rest of the world and to preserve all existing forms of heritage.” (Available in French and English only)