Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Canada Continues Push for Focused UNESCO Convention

Coalition Update, Vol. 3, No. 2, March 2005 – 2005/03

According to this Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity’s publication, Canada continued to play a leading role arguing for a convention with clearly focused on reaffirming the sovereign right of countries to have cultural policies during UNESCO’s Second intergovernmental negotiations session to negotiate the proposed Convention on the protection of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions, held January 31 to February 11 in Paris. The Bulletin reports that Canada ’s statements during the course of the negotiations drew heavily on the written comments it filed with UNESCO in mid-November of last year. As such, they called for language in Articles 5 and 6 that clearly affirmed the right of countries to have cultural policies. And they emphasized the importance of clearly asserting this right in general terms, avoiding language that would risk constraining this right solely to situations where cultural diversity was deemed to be vulnerable or at risk. Canada also reiterated the importance of developing a convention whose scope clearly remained focused on protecting the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions, that is, books, films, television, music, live performance, visual arts and new media. In this respect, the Bulletin underlines that there was significant progress in the February negotiations to concentrate the discussion along these lines, in effect bringing the talks back in line with the mandate laid out in the resolution adopted at the October 2003 General Conference that set the Convention process in motion.

In a similar vein, Mrs Line Beauchamp, Quebec Minister of Culture and Communication, took advantage of her mission to London and Paris to speak in favour of the draft convention of UNESCO on the diversity of cultural expressions and of the investments in culture. The Minister met with governmental experts and foreign representatives with a particular interest in the issue of the diversity of cultural expressions to emphasize the merits of adopting a International Convention at UNESCO . Mrs Beauchamp also seized the opportunity to reaffirm Quebec’s commitment to support the draft convention on the diversity of cultural expressions . Declaring herself “cautiously optimistic” regarding the progress made during the UNESCO’s Second Session of the Intergovernmental Meeting of Experts , the Minister stated, “The governments of Canada and Quebec must maintain a leadership role in the decisive stage we must go through before adopting the convention.” As you may recall, Quebec supports a Convention guaranteeing the right of States and governments to support their artists and cultural industries which is on equal footing with other instruments and trade agreements and includes effective monitoring and dispute settlement mechanisms. Thus, regarding the Festival de cinéma des 3 Amériques, to be held March 30 – April 3, 2005 in Quebec City, the Minister declares that the government of Quebec supports access to a film culture that is open to the world. She states, “I encourage Quebec cinephiles to participate in this event, which highlights film production in our capital and throughout the American continent. By providing more access to films from here and abroad, the Festival is promoting the diversity of cultures.” [05-06]