Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

The permanent delegation of the Vatican at UNESCO supports the “felicitous initiative of a draft Convention on the protection of the Diversity of cultural content and artistic expression"

Mgr Francesco Follo, observateur permanent du Saint-Siège à l’UNESCO, Rome, le 28 avril 2005 – 2005/04/28

Speaking about the draft Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions discussed during the plenary assembly of the UNESCO's Executive Board, in Paris on April 27, Mgr Francesco Follo, permanent observer for the Vatican at UNESCO, reminds the audience of the Vatican delegation’s “total support” of the felicitous initiative of a draft Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions . He also adds: “After the Declaration on cultural diversity, we now need to have a more specific and restrictive legal instrument, such as a convention, to enable the different cultural contents and artistic expressions to become factors in development, even in terms of the economy, for all peoples, especially for the most disadvantaged, but also with the aim of preventing the management of cultural goods, which are extremely distinctive, from being treated solely as economic entities. To recognize, protect and promote the specificity of cultural contents in their non-reducible pluralism, an institution, whose core role is to protect and promote culture, is required: this is precisely the role UNESCO plays.”

In particular, he asserted that “the much-debated question of the dual nature – economic and cultural – of cultural goods and services has the merit of demonstrating that that which circulates and is reproduced in the area of the economy is not only money, but also – and especially – meaning, values, an identity. The principles of respecting cultural goods and reciprocal support, solidarity and cooperation are the fundamental mainstays of this Convention, which aims, from a human point of view, at enriching all cultures (…). The question of the pluralism of content and cultural expressions cannot be reduced to a problem of management of goods and services, i.e. regulating market flows.

In addition, he stressed, while “man is the essential and fundamental fact of culture,” the Convention should insist more strongly and effectively on the positive link between cultural content and cultural identity. All the discussions that took place regarding the definitions on which this Convention is based could find common ground in recognizing the fact that the question of the diversity of cultural expressions is fundamentally a question of identity of subjects, and not of objects to determine and enumerate: multifaceted human creativity is taking on concrete form in works and productions, but at the same time, it transcends them. While the fundamental challenge is cultural identity, it is now justifiable to speak of protection, because it does not simply entail managing or promoting certain productions to the detriment of others, but allowing people to grow as beings endowed with freedom. Similarly, we will be able to feel that we are citizens of the world inasmuch as we are members of open communities that have welcomed us and that have given us a fabric for relations and a canvas of “meaning,” as well as a style and concrete values. When the Church declares and supports the basic rights of individuals and communities of individuals, it declares and supports the right of each community to preserve and develop its own culture, and to defend it against forced assimilation. [05-12]

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