Free Press, Washington, July 29, 2005 – 2005/07/29
The State Department held a second public briefing to discuss their work in the negotiations of the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity, which will be submitted to the UNESCO General Assembly in the fall of 2005. Department of State spokeswoman Ms. Jane Cowley took the opportunity to explain why the State Department refuses to support the Convention. She stated that the U.S. had made numerous attempts to change the document, yet other members were unwilling to include the U.S. recommendations. The U.S. amendments have been rejected.
Ms. Cowley stated their impression of the document as being relatively anti-American, open to misinterpretation, and excessively vague. Others warned that the Convention would allow governments to control the flow of information into their nations, possibly in a way that supports their own interests. In addition, explained Ms. Cowley, they were concerned this would lead to the governments only allowing expression of the state’s party line, despite the fact that the document is intended to promote minority expression and true localism. According to Ms. Cowley, the Convention was initially intended to be an international legal agreement to implement the principle that culture cannot be reduced to a commodity. It was meant to allow each country to exclude its cultural policies, including those affecting media, from trade agreements. Civil society organizations have called for the text to include references to the importance of the public domain, fair use, and the creative commons. In conclusion, the US delegation does not support the Convention, but said there was little they could do to change the Convention before the October vote in the UNESCO General Assembly. [05-26]