Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Adoption of the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions at UNESCO: “ La Francophonie takes action”

Francoffonies , No. 16, October 27, 2005 – 2005/10/27

In this newsletter, the team from France’s francophone festival Francoffonies states, “After four years of nurturing, meetings by experts, negotiations, and compromises as well as mobilization and education for the reluctant, a hands-down vote (…) provided the international community with the political and legal tool it had hoped and prayed for, laying the foundations of a supranational law in the field of culture.”

According to the festival team, “this new legal shield allows countries to protect their cultural goods and services—bearers of unique identities, values, and meanings—from the standardizing domination imposed by the power of money. Films, books, works of the imagination, and works of the mind are now officially recognized as having a “specific nature.” These are not “like other products” and must not be treated the same as goods subject to WTO trade regulations. Funding for their creation and dissemination, tax credits, quotas, or special treatment—notably for the benefit of developing countries—as well as international funds for cultural diversity, etc., will, among other measures, counterbalance the devastating impact that the law of profitability and no-holds-barred free trade have on culture.”

“However,” states the festival team, “the discretion that France and Organisation internationale de la Francophonie have shown in bringing about this Convention must not minimize the value of their joint initiative, or the lead role they played throughout this battle alongside Québec, the European Union, partners of Portuguese, Spanish, and Arab-speaking countries, as well as coalitions and civil society networks. Their efforts must be supported to bring to life a process that every single member of La Francophonie has totally supported. To come into effect, the Convention must still be ratified within two years by at least 30 countries. We also must make sure it is not “whittled away” by bilateral—and unequal—free trade accords, i.e., negotiations that require countries to open their doors to their partners’ films and TV programs before they can hope to sell them their bananas or wood!”


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