Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

23 April 2005 - World Book and Copyright Day : " A link in favour of cultural diversity"

Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO , Paris, April 13, 2005 – 2005/04/13

Ten years have passed since UNESCO proclaimed 23 April “World Book and Copyright Day”. The Day is celebrated by a growing number of partners and since its launch has shown itself to be a great opportunity for reflection and information on a significant theme . By celebrating this Day throughout the world, UNESCO seeks to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright.

In his message on the occasion of this Day, the Director-General of UNESCO Koïchiro Matsuura declares : «  Books as windows onto the diversity of cultures and as tools for dialogue; books as vectors of values and knowledge, and depositories of the intangible heritage; books as sources of material wealth and copyright-protected works of creative artists. All of these aspects have been the subject of numerous awareness-raising and promotional initiatives that have had a genuine impact. There must nevertheless be no let-up in these efforts » . Mr. Matsuura also underlines that: « Books are indeed indicative of a world that is being reborn economically through the vast chain of income-generating activities and professions which they cover. Copyright, which protects the lawful exploitation of intellectual works, also plays a key role in this context. The importance of books extends well beyond their sector: they are tools for learning, sharing and updating knowledge which are essential for the exercise of all professions, in every sector of production, trade and services. Books today are thus at the very heart of the economic and industrial life of every country ». In this context, Mr. Matsuura calls upon political decision-makers, economic operators and stakeholders in civil society to join in World Book and Copyright Day with energy, creativity and generosity.

UNESCO places legal and technical expertise at the service of national policies in ordrer to promote books as a source of economic development and an irreplaceable vector in promoting cultural diversity : It favours in particular the extension of international networks of professionals in the book trade, including independent publishers. It also sets up lasting partnerships with specialized institutions to advise on regional development strategies. It lends its support to awareness-building activities (World Book and Copyright Day, and World Book Capital ) and contributes to identifying quality books for children as well as providing books and mobile libraries to develop reading. It continues to promote the Florence Agreement on the free circulation of educational, scientific and cultural goods (1950) and its Nairobi Protocol (1976). Since 2002, it has been developing the Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity.

This is the context in which UNESCO has proclaimed Montreal, “World Book Capital City” from April 23, 2005 through April 22, 2006 – due to the quality of its programme for promoting books and its commitment to players in all aspects of the book industry. Moreover, its literary scene is bursting with energy. It is also unique in that it is poised between diverse cultures: English, native, Caribbean, French, Hispanic and even Asian. Montreal is the fifth city to be elected " World Book Capital ", following in the footsteps of Madrid (2001), Alexandria (2002), New Delhi ( 2003) and Antwerp (2004). The opening of this special Montreal-centric year was preceded by a major book festival, which was held in Montreal April 22-24, 2005. [05-11]