Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

International Meeting of Culture Ministers in Madrid – The Madrid Declaration in support of cultural diversity

Ministère de la Culture de l'Espagne, Madrid, le 12 juin 2005 – 2005/06/12

Delegates at the International Meeting of Culture Ministers in Madrid wholeheartedly supported the Madrid Declaration in support of cultural diversity and called for final adoption of the draft UNESCO convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions at the 33rd UNESCO General Conference in October 2005 as per the terms recommended at the third session of the intergovernmental meeting of experts. They also expressed their support of UNESCO in securing approval of the convention and invited their counterparts in other countries to support this Declaration, which sets out the following main components of the future convention:

  • Recognition of the specificity and duality of cultural goods and services, which are both key vectors for disseminating works of art and the human spirit as well as objects of trade
  • The sovereign right of states to adopt measures intended to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions
  • The fundamental role of cultural diversity in supporting sustainable development, notably in developing countries
  • The need to provide the convention an appropriate and legitimate status in international law, which means it must not be subordinated to any other international legal instrument
  • Respect within the provisions of the convention for all applicable international agreements on human rights
  • Recognition of cultural diversity as a source of dialog and mutual understanding as well as the glue that can cement ties between civilizations

At the meeting, which brought together delegates from 71 countries, including 45 ministers of culture, those from Chile, Argentina, and Mexico, among others, mentioned the importance of adopting this convention in October 2005, despite the fact that other countries, like the United States, Israel, Australia, and Japan do not—at least for the moment—agree with a number of the convention’s provisions, as reported by the daily El País. According to Spanish culture minister Carmen Calvo, changes may be made to the draft in view of its approval at UNESCO’s General Conference. We have between now and October to work with these countries to arrive at a consensus. In her view, this declaration does not hinder the free circulation of goods, nor does it strengthen protectionist barriers. Similarly, she stated her belief that “our time must be a time for seeking balance and harmony, a time when culture becomes a force for human development and the restoration of balance.” Brazilian culture minister Gilberto Gil called for the recognition of the cultures of smaller countries and stressed that the concept of cultural diversity must transcend that of war and misunderstanding: “It is crucial to engage new generations in protecting and promoting the wealth of cultural diversity that still exists on our planet.” [05-19]