Cultural diversity

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Address given by UNESCO director general Koïchiro Matsuura to the first Conference of Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

With the inaugural Conference of Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions now over, we felt it important to go back over the main points raised by UNESCO director general Koïchiro Matsuura in his opening address to the meeting on June 18, 2007. Among other things, Mr. Matsuura’s speech provided an idea of when he intended for further meetings on the Convention’s implementation to be held.

Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura began his address by stating that the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions had come into force in record time for a cultural agreement, noting that “the main reason was no doubt the topicality of the ideas.” The director general believes that the Convention constitutes “the first normative instrument that so clearly ties culture to development, tackling head on what is proving to be one of the major challenges of the 21st century: the role of cultural expression in development, given the great changes in how culture is created, produced, and disseminated.”

Another reason for its success according to Mr. Matsuura is that “this Convention is one of the first, and one of the few, international instruments that simultaneously acknowledges globalization and endeavors to guide it and control its processes so that they ensure not only the protection but also the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions.”

Mr. Matsuura nevertheless went on to say that even though he was delighted with its exceptionally fast ratification, “the geographic breakdown of the Party States to the Convention is regrettably still a little unbalanced.” In order to meet its objectives, he continued, “it is crucial that States Parties represent the world’s various regions in a balanced manner.” Noting that currently only three states from the Asia-Pacific region had ratified the Convention, and only three Arab states, Mr. Matsuura expressed his desire to see other countries from these regions quickly ratify the Convention.

As mentioned earlier in this bulletin, it was decided at the first session of the Conference of Parties that the Intergovernmental Committee would hold its first meeting in December 2007 in Ottawa, Canada. In his opening address, Mr. Matsuura said he anticipated the next meetings on the Convention’s implementation to shape up as follows: an extraordinary session of the Committee in May 2008, followed by an ordinary session in fall 2008, if required, and perhaps another extraordinary session in spring 2009. The director general also made it clear that the second Conference of Parties could be held two years after the first, in June 2009, in order to adopt all the Committee texts. Mr. Matsuura nevertheless stressed that this was only a preliminary timetable that would have to be more clearly defined as work advanced and other needs became clear.

Mr. Matsuura’s full address in French can be consulted here.

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