INCD, Ottawa , October 20, 2005 – 2005/10/20
This press release published last October 21 underlines that since 2000, the International Network for Cultural Diversity (INCD) has been in the forefront of the campaign to advocate for a legally binding convention on cultural diversity to halt the growing pressure on cultural policies caused by the multilateral and bilateral trade agreements. For this reason, INCD congratulated UNESCO and its member states for approving the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. INCD and its member organizations from every corner of the globe—more than 400 non-governmental cultural organizations in 71 countries—celebrated the overwhelming positive support, as 148 countries voted in favor of the final text. This new legal instrument recognizes the value of cultural diversity to national and global wellbeing and acknowledges that cultural goods and services have more than an economic value. But, the Convention is only one step in a long campaign to achieve cultural diversity and prevent trade and investment agreements from further eroding the right of states to support their own artists and cultural producers.
In this respect, the INCD Executive Director Garry Neil said, “The strong support for the Convention is a watershed moment in the history of the cultural diversity movement, and we are proud of the role INCD and others civil society groups played in reaching this moment. But there is much more to do. Civil society will continue to play an active part in the next phase of the work and we call today on all states who voted in favor to ratify the Convention, to make it as effective as possible, and to commit to supporting cultural diversity both within their own territories and globally.”
INCD urges governments to work with each other, civil society, intergovernmental institutions, and their own artists and cultural producers to achieve the real promise of the Convention. “After all, we need to collaborate against the continuing pressure from those who want trade in cultural goods and services to be covered fully under the World Trade Organization and regional and bilateral trade treaties. We also need to ensure that developing countries have the resources they need to bring their stories, music, and other artistic works to local and global audiences.” Moreover, INCD urged governments to include provisions of the new Convention in their bilateral and multilateral cultural agreements. “The Convention only establishes minimum standards, and we want the richer countries of the North to make specific and concrete commitments to countries of the South to help them develop creative industries and cultural capacity. We also want the richer countries to open their markets to artistic works from countries of the South,” continued Mr. Neil.
In addition, INCD urged the world’s culture ministers, under the aegis of the International Network on Cultural Policy, to renew their commitment to this work. Culture is significant in all dimensions of governance, including trade, security, development, and human rights, and this is only beginning to be understood. The INCP must strengthen its resolve to continue, build its membership, and prepare for the next round of cultural diversity work in UNESCO, as well as the important upcoming work with finance and trade ministers, as well as heads of government.