Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Adoption of the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions at UNESCO: “The Convention acknowledges our culture and protects its practitioners”

Safiatou Ndiaye Diop, Senegalese ambassador to Unesco, Dakar, October 22, 2005 – 2005/10/22

In an interview with the daily Wal Fadjri, Ms. Safiatou Ndiaye Diop, former minister of culture and Senegalese ambassador to UNESCO, maintains that the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted at the 33rd UNESCO General Conference “may be beneficial for Senegal.” In her opinion, “this Convention will help us to better protect our culture and its practitioners. It will also help to better protect our cultural heritage and enhance it. That is very important. This Convention makes substantial provisions for immaterial heritage, which is very important for peoples with oral cultures, such as those in Senegal. I believe it is time for this Convention to move forward.”

Pointing out that debate went from cultural exception to cultural diversity during the negotiations, she explains that the evolution of the world requires this notion of diversity. “We can no longer be content with the notion of cultural exception. What we have is diversity. We realize that there is a certain harmony in this diversity. And that’s the goal we seek—that Asians, Africans, Europeans, and Americans can feel at home around a diverse culture that is more than just a symbol. That is how we can accept one another, respect one another, and interact with one another to achieve a certain peace in the world.”

In response to the question as to whether the Convention, by supporting diversity, would not lead rather to the compartmentalization of cultures, which can result in extremism, the ambassador states, “Certain countries could have this type of policy. But people will not stand for it. What is important is that it is the people who will take charge of this expression of their cultural diversity. And according to the agreement, no country can impose this compartmentalization (...) on its people. Only time will tell.”

Speaking about the consequences of the U.S. opposition to the Convention, the ambassador states that “they have taken their position and defended it with their arguments. The problem now is to ratify this Convention. Senegal has called on all countries to ratify it. Senegal has also called on other countries that voted against it or abstained to join the countries who voted for it, because this agreement is quite consensual. And everyone can make sense of it. It’s not always easy because everyone has their point of view. We respect everyone’s point of view. But our country coauthored this agreement and we assume responsibility for its content.”