Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions - The fight continues: “We must work extremely hard to sustain momentum for ratification”

Line Beauchamp, ministre de la Culture et des Communications du Québec, Lyon, le 7 décembre 2005 – 2005/12/07

At the end of the symposium entitled The Fight for Cultural Diversity, which was held this year from December 2 to 7 in Lyons as part of the 18th Entretiens du Centre Jacques Cartier, Québec minister of culture and communications Line Beauchamp released a study on prospects for action related to the UNESCO Convention implementation. The Bernier/Ruiz-Fabri study “lays out the winning conditions for the implementation” of the Convention which, now that Canada has signed on, must still be ratified by 29 countries. Minister Beauchamp admitted that there is still an enormous amount of work to be done, and insisted on the need to “work extremely hard to sustain momentum for ratification.”

In this respect, it is worth noting that, since the adoption of the Convention by UNESCO, cultural diversity advocates have focused their efforts on getting as many countries as possible to ratify the agreement in order to give it as much weight as possible. However, in the opinion of the study’s author, Professor Ivan Bernier, support for the Convention could fade if the implementation stage is not prepared now: “If we can’t convince developing countries of the seriousness of the Convention, support will rapidly erode,” he said. The study’s co-author, Hélène Ruiz-Fabri, adds that “There’s a risk that delays will multiply, undermining the implementation process and support.” The study’s authors note that it would be “extremely disappointing” if, after being adopted and ratified, the Convention “were to fail at the implementation phase.” They believe that “The best way to avoid this scenario is to start preparing the implementation stage now, as if the Convention were about to come into effect (…). We mustn’t wait three or four years. If we can put forth concrete proposals even before it is ratified, it would lend more weight to ratification. It could even speed up the process by creating a sense of impending success. This would also provide reassurance to those who are hesitant.”

The Convention contains a series of commitments to help developing countries adopt cultural policies, including preferential treatment for their artists and provisions for an International Fund for Cultural Diversity. For this reason, Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity co-chair Pierre Curzi stressed that “We must start broadening the debate and transfering knowledge to developing countries right now, otherwise we will extinguish the flame of hope that we have lit. And it is clear that if there is no financial effort from the rich countries, the Convention will be a lame-duck.” Minister Beauchamp agreed that it is an “extremely important challenge” that must not be “exclusively tied to the creation of the fund” and “limited to subsidies.” “We must help developing countries develop cultural funding mechanisms,” she declared.