Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

The Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and the Future of the Arts - Namur Declaration

Festival International du Film Francophone de Namur, Belgique, le 29 septembre 2005 – 2005/09/29

Representatives from francophone coalitions for cultural diversity met in Namur on September 29 during the city’s francophone film festival for a symposium on the theme “Cultural Diversity and the Future of the Arts.” The symposium saw the creation of a coordination structure for francophone cultural diversity coalitions and concluded with the Namur Declaration in support of the Draft Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions that will be presented for adoption at the 33rd UNESCO General Conference. Sponsored by the Intergovernmental Agency of the Francophonie (AIF), Centre National de la Cinématographie - CNC (France), SODEC (Québec), Switzerland’s Federal Office of Culture and the Belgian francophone community’s Center for Cinema and Audiovisual Production, the symposium was the latest in a series of events that began with the meeting held by CNC with its partners at the Cannes Film Festival on May 18, and the Author’s Day organized by the Federation of European Film Directors (FERA) on September 4 at the Venice festival.

The Namur Declaration reads as follows: “We, artists and cultural professionals, and Coalitions for Cultural Diversity of the francophone world (…) resolutely declare our support for the draft Convention. This convention, the outcome of multilateral negotiations between all UNESCO members, strikes a healthy balance between artistic freedom and access by the world’s peoples to their own cultures and the cultures of others. (…) Given that the draft meets the principal demands we submitted to the heads of state at the 2004 Summit of the Francophonie in Ouagadougou, we call upon all member states of the Francophonie and UNESCO to unreservedly support the adoption and rapid ratification of the convention to make it effective as quickly as possible. We urge governments to start incorporating convention principles into their own policies today.”

For the signatories of the declaration, “governments should consistently and coherently invest in cultural policy so as to help, at their own level, bring about true global cultural diversity; make culture a full-fledged part of their international cooperation and development policy, notably by contributing to the International Cultural Diversity Fund in a manner consistent with their financial capabilities; agree to use the convention’s international dialog and coordination mechanisms to promote convention objectives and principles in other forums; definitively reject all commitments to liberalize trade in cultural goods and services under regional or global trade agreements (WTO); and show greater vigilance when negotiating bilateral trade agreements to avoid surrendering, either directly or indirectly, any of their sovereign rights to implement cultural policy.”

To help secure government compliance with these principles at the international level, the signatories of the declaration created a coordinating structure for cultural diversity coalitions from the international francophone zone. Its first objective is the adoption and rapid ratification of the convention by UNESCO member states at the General Conference. The declaration concludes that “Promoting cultural diversity is an investment in our common human heritage, and in a future whose horizons are not defined solely in economic and political terms.”