Enjeux internationaux, No. 9, October 2005 – 2005/10
In its recently released ninth issue, Enjeux internationaux—an independent quarterly devoted to international relations, development, and contemporary political, economic, social, and cultural issues—has published a 27 page special on cultural diversity, humanity’s shared heritage that must be preserved. For editor-in-chief Anne-Marie Impe, this is the main goal of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted on October 20 at UNESCO. In this issue, authors from various countries shed light on diverse facets of this key issue, exploring beyond the scope of the Convention itself. They also tackle questions and problems raised by pluralism.
The feature entitled Faut-il avoir peur des États-Unis? (Should we be scared of the United States?) stresses the importance of ratifying the Convention, “failing which the ‘cultural exemption’ approved by WTO until 2004, and extended until 2006, could definitively lapse, leaving government-sponsored cultural support measures vulnerable to complaints, and without any legal grounds for their defense.” The magazine quotes Québec’s minister of culture and communications, Line Beauchamp, who calls the Convention “a fight crucial for our survival.” Philippe Suinen, who is in charge of external relations for Belgium’s French-speaking community, points out that “in order for cultural goods to circulate freely, they must first exist, an existence threatened in many countries due to the lack of public funding.” Fadila Laanan, minister of culture for Belgium’s French-speaking community, argues that the “Convention does not aim to limit the unrestricted circulation of goods, but protects our right to support our public television broadcasters and local stations providing a public service.”
The quarterly also drew attention to African support for cultural diversity: “For them, it is not only a matter of protecting themselves against the American and Western cultural tide, but also of having the means to develop their own cultural products. If we don’t want to wake up one day with an American-dominated commercial monoculture in place, that struggle is just as important as protecting cultural goods against market forces.”