LineBeauchamp, ministre de la Culture et des Communications du Québec, le 14 juin 2005 – 2005/06/14
Back from the International Meeting of Ministers of Culture prepared to get underway in Madrid on June 11 and 12, the minister of Culture and Communications Mrs Line Beauchamp, painted a positive picture of the talks that established broad international support for the draft Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions issued to the third and final session of the intergovernmental meeting of experts at UNESCO, which wrapped up on June 3 in Paris: “We have just completed another important step. The 70 states present, 45 of whom were represented by ministerial authorities, concluded as we did that it is a good document, and they supported the work done. This draft convention is a reasonable compromise that a vast majority of UNESCO member states support. It lays the political and legal foundations of an instrument that will fill a gap,” said the minister in a speech to her counterparts.
She added, “With this text, we are sure that we have achieved a realistic balance. It includes the crucial goals Québec has been calling for regarding the rights of states and governments to support their culture, as well as the specific nature of cultural goods and services. It also explicitly affirms that the convention will not be subordinate to other international agreements and sets out oversight and dispute settlement mechanisms to help the convention gain momentum and become the definitive international instrument in matters of culture. (…) We should also celebrate the fact that the necessary international solidarity was taken into account,” stated the minister, who also stressed that “much work remains to be done to strengthen support for this draft convention.” She also insisted to her counterparts that “it is important to shore up support in our own ranks with our fellow ministers and heads of state and government to ensure our position is clear and unanimous at all levels. (…) We must redouble our efforts to preserve our strategic advantage. We still have to convince undecided states and above all hold on to our support. Over the coming months, we will continue to bring people onboard and stay the course so that the draft convention is adopted in October 2005.”
While saluting the role of civil society—notably the coalitions for cultural diversity, which “continue their effective and ongoing efforts to persuade,”—Ms.Beauchamp also noted that “the State must create the conditions conducive to creativity and ensure that—while respecting artistic freedom—cultural expressions flourish and contribute to the development of our societies.” In her words, “protecting and defending this duty is not incompatible with our openness to free trade. On the contrary. Because Québec, just like Canada, is strongly in favor of freer markets. The nuance is simply that cultural expressions cannot be treated as mere trade objects. Cultural goods and services are also driving forces for a country’s own culture, identity, and imagination.” [05-19]