Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Momentum Building for Convention to Protect Cultural Diversity

Liza Frulla, ministre fédérale du Patrimoine canadien, Ottawa, le 14 juin 2005 – 2005/06/14

The representatives of over 70 countries gathered in Madrid for the International Meeting of Culture Ministers approved the wording of UNESCO’s draft convention of the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, giving new momentum to this initiative. For Canadian Heritage minister Liza Frulla, the international community has taken another crucial step towards adoption of this convention: « I am absolutely delighted by the incredible show of support coming mere days after the final draft text was unveiled in Paris », she declared. It was during the “historic session” of the third session of the intergovernmental meeting of experts at UNESCO that 127 countries over the 130 present approved the final wording of the convention. According to the minister, “The text was the result of intense negotiations, and was regarded by the overwhelming majority as a balanced and reasonable compromise. In fact, the reason the text was able to receive nearly unanimous support in Paris was that its authors were able to strike a balance among the interests of all parties while preserving a strong and effective Convention in the process.”

The minister Frulla also noted that “The final draft text of the Convention agreed to in Paris revolved around Canada's three principal objectives: The Convention recognizes the dual nature of cultural goods and services as having both an economic and social value; the Convention reaffirms the right of states to take measures in support of cultural expression; and the Convention is supportive and on equal footing with other international agreements and not subordinated by these agreements.” She added that “With Canada's support and leadership, the international effort to ensure the diversity of cultural expression is a step closer to being rewarded. Over the course of the next few weeks, it is crucial to rally the support of as many countries as possible so that the Convention will be adopted in the fall.”

In a speech given at the Banff International Television Festival, Alberta, the minister Frulla expressed her wish that “ UNESCO's member states adopt a Convention in order to gain recognition for each country's right to take measures to support and protect its artists and creators, in every form of expression; a Convention that will take its place on the international scene and will serve as a point of reference for any discussion on the diversity of cultural expression”. She stated that “(…) It also has the necessary force so that the Convention will be given equal status with other international agreements, including that of the World Trade Organization, and will not be subordinate to them.That is a victory. Even though the United States did not support the text of the Convention, nearly all of the 130 countries present did approve it.” This is why, over the next few months, declared the minister, her “my task is to promote the merits of the Convention, especially to other countries that may not fully support the proposed text.” [05-19]