Line Beauchamp, Minister of Culture and Communications of Québec, Montréal, November 7, 2005 – 2005/11/07
Guest speaker at a luncheon seminar organized by CORIM (Conseil des relations internationales de Montréal) in Montréal last November 7, Québec culture and communications minister Line Beauchamp gave a talk on the theme The UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions: Its Meaning to Québec. This Convention was adopted at UNESCO’s 33rd General Conference on October 20. At the seminar, Ms. Beauchamp stressed Québec’s commitment to culture and talked of the meaning of the Convention and its importance to Québec, as well as the remarkable international efforts in support of the Convention by governments, culture communities, and professional associations around the world.
In this respect, the minister declared that “It is important to clearly understand that the Convention’s adoption is only the first step in a process that has only just begun. We must not view it as a final text of law. Instead, we must interpret it as a living mechanism that has been newly born and now has to develop. This Convention is the foundation of an international instrument with both legal and political force.” That is why the next steps are so important, including ratification. The minister considers the requirement that at least 30 states ratify the Convention for it enter into effect to be a minimum goal. “The real target is much higher. The more countries that ratify it, the greater the Convention’s legitimacy and political weight. We therefore have to continue encouraging action to secure as many ratifications as possible, as quickly as possible. Canada’s representatives said they intended to proceed quickly. In Québec, we plan to have this Convention approved by the National Assembly on November 10 (editor’s note: and they succeeded!).” To the minister, “this diligence by Québec will be a source of inspiration for the UNESCO member states that have to ratify it. Québec has every intention of continuing to lead the fight, and we will take every opportunity in our contacts with the international community and civil society to encourage the states that signed the Convention to ratify it quickly,” she asserted.
The next essential step is putting the Convention into effect. In this regard, the minister maintains that its implementation mechanisms will contribute to attainment of the Convention’s objectives, and the Convention’s vitality will depend on the force party states are willing to give it. The minister went on to say that Québec will also have to stay alert as to other concerns that threaten cultural policies. While it may be comforting that this “umbrella policy” for trade liberalization processes has been adopted, it is still important to keep an eye out, since technological progress places considerable stress on governments’ ability to put cultural policies into effect.
In Ms. Beauchamp’s view, the current state of trade liberalization is making many aware of the benefits of globalization with a human face, which may make the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions a benchmark for other sectors.