Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Consensus sur l'urgence d'un traité de protection de la diversité culturelle, 23 octobre 2004

At the end of the 14th “Rencontres Cinématographiques de Beaune”, broad consensus emerged among both politicians and film professionals on the urgency of adopting the International treaty on the Protection of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions at UNESCO. During a panel on “Cultural diversity in Europe and the world,” French minister of culture Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres stated, “Our backs are to the wall.” Panelists noted with concern the U.S. film industry’s growing presence on national markets and the lack of diversity in supply. The convention in preparation at UNESCO aims to provide a legal framework that protects the right of states to support production and distribution of artistic works at the national and international level—and ultimately that prevents globalization from jeopardizing diversity and depleting cultural expressions. Consequently, Mr. de Vabres asserted, “We must take action to protect the rights of the weakest.” The draft convention “initially provoked the wrath of the United States, which saw it as a form of disguised protectionism before agreeing to participate in talks while at the same time negotiating bilateral trade agreements that include cultural goods.” However, after the meeting in Beaune between France’s minister of culture and Mr. Dan Glickman, new president of the highly influential Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA, an organization including the leading U.S. studios), both men acknowledged in a joint press release “the need for global cultural diversity.” Ms Anne Hidalgo, National Secretary for Culture and Media Secretary with France’s Socialist Party, echoed Mr. de Vabres in this regard, stating: “For us, culture is not just a commodity.” Still, she recognized that “the battle is far from won.” Even though the convention’s relationship to other international conventions and its legally binding nature represent major stumbling blocks, the target date for adoption remains the next UNESCO General Conference in September 2005. ( Available in French ) [78]