Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

" To influence UNESCO’s ongoing negotiations on the Convention on cultural diversity and obtain a text that protects the States’ right to develop genuine cultural policies "

Coalitions européennes pour la diversité culturelle , Bruxelles, le 20 avril 2005 – 2005/04/20

In Europe, the Coalitions for Cultural Diversity of Belgium, Finland (in the process of being created), France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Slovakia and Spain have decided to form an alliance: the European Coalitions for Cultural Diversity. The purpose of this Alliance is to provide information to the European institutions and the Commission, in particular, in the framework of the negotiation mandate with which Member States have entrusted it, and the expectations of creators and professionals working in the area of culture in relation to the draft convention discussed at UNESCO.

Assembled for the first time on April 19-20, 2005 in Brussels , the European Coalitions met the main individuals responsible for Culture and Commerce at the European Commission and the European Parliament, in order to communicate to them their shared concerns about: UNESCO’s draft convention on cultural diversity , international trade negotiations , and the proposal for a directive on services, which is attempting to make the liberalization of services obligatory at the European level (Directive Bolkestein). In the final declaration made public at the end of the meeting, the European Coalitions alliance stresses that the twenty-four Coalitions for Cultural Diversity , bringing together in each country the professional organizations in the area of culture in all its incarnations, formed worldwide, aim to influence UNESCO’s ongoing negotiations on the convention on cultural diversity and, in this framework, to obtain a text that protects the States’ right to develop genuine cultural policies.

The European Coalitions are especially pleased that Europe has decided to show a united front at UNESCO and expect the Commission to defend ambitious positions. According to this Alliance, the Convention must provide the States with real rights and obligations to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions   at both the national and international levels. Providing real support to developing countries in terms of cooperation initiatives is essential to the balance of the Convention. Moreover , the Convention must also stipulate that the States refrain from making commitments in other fora that would be contrary to its objectives. This Convention must not be subordinated to other international agreements, as it must enable culture to take its place in international law, in particular by means of a binding dispute resolution mechanism.

In this respect, the Alliance would like, in particular, the European Commission to reaffirm the principle of technological neutrality so that the convention applies to all cultural goods and services regardless of their mode of dissemination. It also stresses that for this Convention to be a success, in addition to featuring high-level content, it must be adopted by a vast majority of the Member States of UNESCO during the General Conference scheduled for October 2005. The Alliance specifically asks European Union and the Member States to deploy more human resources and step up diplomatic efforts to win over as many States as possible to this project. In addition, the Alliance emphasizes that European Coalitions will keep a watchful eye on the consistency of the Community’s position in the continuation of the Doha cycle and the European Union accession negotiations . [05-11]