The first session of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, chaired by Professor Kader Asmal of South Africa, closed on June 20 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France. Some 300 delegates representing the 57 Parties to the Convention participated, along with observers, notably from the six states that have ratified the Convention over the past three months and a number of groups from civil society.
In a press release issued at the end of this meeting, UNESCO noted that during the two and a half days of work, the Conference of Parties—the Convention’s supreme decision-making body—had adopted its rules of procedure and elected the 24 members of the Intergovernmental Committee that will operate under its supervision. The States Parties elected onto the Committee are Albania, Austria, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, China, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, India, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Oman, Saint Lucia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, and Tunisia. The press release goes on to state that in order to ensure the geographical representation of all regions and in conformity with agreements made during the meeting, several seats on the Committee were reserved for developing countries. Half of the countries on the committee will serve for only two years, while the other half will have four-year terms.
The UNESCO press release adds that the Intergovernmental Committee will be responsible, among other things, for promoting the objectives of the Convention, encouraging and ensuring its implementation, and preparing operational directives. It will hold its first meeting in December 2007 in Ottawa.
The press release concludes, “With this Convention, UNESCO disposes of [sic.] a comprehensive set of standard-setting instruments, comprising seven conventions covering cultural diversity in all of its manifestations, and especially the two pillars of culture: heritage—tangible and intangible—and contemporary creativity.”