Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Stakes of the UNESCO's draft Convention on the protection of cultural contents and artistic expressions

International Liaison Committee of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (ILC), Paris, January 27 , 2005 – 2005/01/25

The international Liaison Committee (ILC) of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (CCD) met in Paris January 26 and 27 2005 to discuss recent developments in the process for developing an international Convention on the protection of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions now underway at UNESCO. Representatives of the ILC-CDC, an association of 21 Coalitions for Cultural Diversity which represents 300 professional cultural organizations, after studying the revised draft text prepared by the drafting committee during its December 14-17 meeting, as well as the written comments of UNESCO’s member states, the ILC adopted the following position with respect to the Convention, which it proposes be renamed the « Convention on the protection, promotion and development of cultural contents and artistic expressions ».

During a press conference in which a ILC delegation presented the ILC-CCD’s analysis on the preliminary draft Convention as revised by the Drafting Committee, the ILC called the 2nd Intergovernmental Meeting of Experts, which will open in Paris from January 31 at February 12, 2005, « a decisive meeting for the adoption of the Convention on the cultural diversity in 2005 ».  Stating its position on the preliminary draft convention, the ILC recalled the principles that should take priority in negotiations during the governmental meeting, namely: Cultural goods and services are vectors of the identity of peoples and cannot be reduced solely to commercial merchandise; The access to a diversity of cultural content, originating from countries from all regions of the world, is a fundamental right; Only the application of true national cultural policies can enable the development of cultural production in each country, thereby making this diversity possible.

Furthermore, the ILC considers it absolutely vital that: To keep the scope of the Convention text focused squarely on the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions; The sovereign right of countries to adopt their own cultural policies must be enshrined unequivocally as the central objective of the Convention; The Convention must itself be an instrument for international cooperation in favour of cultural development and must not simply defer this issue to the cooperation agreements concluded among States; The Convention must provide for a clear engagement, in unambiguous terms, by which States commit to uphold the objectives of this Convention in other fora, notably by abstaining from liberalization commitments on culture in the context of international trade agreements; The Convention must not be subordinated to other international instruments. It must have the same weight as other international instruments, including trade agreements, and must serve as the reference with respect to the measures that States may take to ensure a genuine diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions; The Convention must contain a provision formally binding States Parties to use the mechanism provided for in the Convention for resolving disputes between them and, in this context, the dispute settlement mechanism must also be one that can be activated unilaterally by one State Party.

In addition, ILC deems it “imperative” that the Convention be ready for adoption at UNESCO’s next General Conference in October 2005. The intense pressures being applied to culture in trade negotiations make it imperative that the Convention be adopted before the conclusion of the WTO’s current round of trade negotiations, as well as the proliferation of bilateral free trade agreements, pre-empts the Convention of its very purpose. It is therefore essential that States abstain from making liberalization requests or offers relating to culture in the context of the bilateral or multilateral negotiations now underway.[05-03]