Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

6th General Assembly of the Parliamentary Confederation of the Americas (COPA) – Declaration on Protection of Cultural Diversity

Commission de travail permanente de l’éducation, de la culture,  de la science et de la technologie de la COPA, Foz do Iguaçu, Brésil, le 10 mai 2005 – 2005/05/10

The VIth COPA General Assembly was held in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, from May 6 to 11, 2005. Some 200 parliamentarians, representatives of the congresses and parliamentary assemblies of unitary, federal, federated, and associated states, regional parliaments, and interparliamentary organizations, , from 25 countries, gathered in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil adopted the Final Declaration of Foz do Iguaçu, and thematic committees participants adopted recommendations. In this respect, the work of the Committee on Education, Culture, Science and Technology on the theme “Protecting cultural diversity in creating the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)” helped establish a consensus on the importance of protecting cultural diversity in the Americas.

Committee members unanimously adopted a recommendation in which they expressed their belief, among other things, that “bilateral inter-American agreements have been negotiated and signed since FTAA negotiations have slowed down and the 5th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Cancún ended in failure (…) compromise the ability of states to adopt measures to support their cultural policies and national cultural industries.” They also believe that “including exemption clauses for the cultural sector in certain trade agreements remains a valid “defense” strategy but is not enough to support the principles of respect and preservation of cultural diversity.”

Consequently, they reiterate that “cultural diversity is a source of great wealth for our societies and that respect for and value of this diversity contribute to social cohesion and the development of our nations”; reassert “the right of states and governments to maintain, establish, and develop culture and cultural diversity support policies, in respect of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Pact on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and in a spirit of openness to other cultures around the world”; urge the heads of state and government of the Americas, to abstain, under the current conditions from all World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments to liberalize cultural goods and services in order to avoid compromising cultural diversity promotion and support instruments, as well as to abstain from trade liberalization agreements affecting culture in negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

The parliamentarians also undertake “to ensure that the commitments made at inter-American meetings on culture and education have tangible results and that all initiatives by inter-American government bodies respect the state’s prerogative to legislate in the fields of culture and education.” They also request “the COPA president to forward this recommendation to UNESCO and all national and international organizations involved or interested in the issue of cultural diversity.” [05-20]