Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Diversity of cultural expressions: France asks WTO to stay out of debate

Agence Vietnamienne d’Information(AVI), 9 septembre 2005 – 2005/09/09

The Vietnamese Information Agency (VIA) reports that French culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres has asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to stay out of the current UNESCO debate on the adoption of a convention on the diversity of cultural expressions: “WTO has no place imposing rules in the drafting of a UNESCO document,” the minister told the media at a meeting in Geneva with new WTO General Director Pascal Lamy.

In late October, UNESCO will debate the adoption of a convention on the diversity of cultural expressions establishing the specific nature of cultural goods in relation to standard trade rules. Francophone countries are staunch supporters of this convention, which is opposed by countries like the U.S., Japan, Israel, and Australia, emphasized VIA. “This concept of cultural diversity, recognized as a principle by most countries in the world, applies to all international organizations,” maintained Donnedieu de Vabres. “At UNESCO, states are voicing their wish to implement a convention on cultural diversity. No other international organization will interfere with this wish,” he asserted. The new WTO director, Pascal Lamy from France, told Donnedieu de Vabres that the 148 WTO members had not come to a consensus on the issue of cultural diversity, and he was therefore unable to take a position on the matter.

At a meeting in Brussels on September 9 with Ms. Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition, the minister recalled “the importance of culture in the European project and the European Union’s support for UNESCO’s adoption of convention on cultural diversity in October.” [05-26]