Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Cultural diversity: a major step towards the adoption of a UNESCO Convention

European Commission, Brussels, 6 June 2005 – 2005/06/06

In this declaration, the European Commission notes that « The negotiation of a draft UNESCO Convention on cultural diversity was concluded successfully in Paris on June 3, 2005. The third negotiating session adopted a revised draft Convention and recommended to the next UNESCO General Conference (October 2005) to adopt it. As per the mandate given by the Council in November 2004, the European Commission negotiated on behalf of the European Community. The revised draft Convention legitimises cultural policies and promotes international cooperation. It reaffirms the respect of international obligations whilst obliging Parties to take into account cultural diversity objectives when applying and interpreting all their international obligations, and when negotiating new international commitments. This is a first in international law.»

Thus, according to Ján Figel, European commissioner in charge of Culture, « The EU has become a major player in these UNESCO negotiations, and it has clearly demonstrated the strength of its single voice and its operative mode of negotiating in this organisation. We look forward for a successful conclusion of those negotiations in the autumn since it would be a unique opportunity to advance the international acceptance of the analysis of the reality and on the issues revolving around cultural diversity and cultural policies.»

The European Community and it Member States issued in November 2004 a Communication to UNESCO stating their views on the future Convention. For the EU, the Convention should in particular affirm the specific and dual (cultural and economic) nature of cultural goods and services, recognize the role of public policies in the protection and promotion of cultural diversity and recognize the importance of international cooperation to respond to cultural vulnerabilities, in particular, but not exclusively, vis-à-vis developing countries. Such an instrument would be an opportunity to perpetuate and strengthen its actions and instruments of international co-operation in the cultural field, such as the ACP and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnerships

Regarding the new text of the preliminary draft Convention, the European Commission points out that the definition of “cultural goods and services” is adequately restrictive. This ensures that “cultural policies” concerns will not be used in trade negotiations on non-cultural goods and services. Moreover, the revised draft Convention includes a clause enabling the EC to ratify the Convention and to become a Party to it. At their EC coordination meeting in Paris, the 25 Member States expressed their unanimous support for the result of the negotiations. [05-18]