Cultural diversity

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Speech given by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura at an information meeting with permanents delegates regarding the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

On March 23, 2007, UNESCO director-general Koïchiro Matsuura held an information meeting with the permanent delegates regarding the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Cultural Expressions. In his opening speech, director-general Matsuura described the entry into effect of the Convention last March 18 as a source of great satisfaction for himself, UNESCO, and the entire international community. He later took the opportunity to provide a broad outline of the timetable he foresaw for Convention implementation.

He began by announcing his intention to convene the first Conference of Parties at UNESCO headquarters from June 18 to 20, 2007. Only Parties having deposited their ratification instruments with UNESCO before March 20, 2007 will be permitted to attend this first meeting as Parties with full voting rights, but Mr. Matsuura stressed that other states would be welcomed as observers. “Since its internal bylaws providing a specific definition of observer status have yet to be adopted—one of the first orders of business—I will also invite certain observers and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations who were involved in developing the Convention.” In his speech, Mr. Matsuura stated that one of the Conference of Parties’ duties will be to elect the 24 members of the Intergovernmental Committee. Acknowledging the still uneven geographical distribution of Member States, he stressed that balanced representation of all the world’s regions was a fundamental requirement for the successful implementation of the Convention’s goals of cooperation and solidarity. He further informed the audience that the first Conference of Parties’ would also be responsible for mandating the Intergovernmental Committee to draw up the operational guidelines for Convention implementation and for creating the International Fund for Cultural Diversity.

Mr. Matsuura added that the Intergovernmental Committee could hold its first meeting in December 2007, mentioning that the Committee would be tasked with giving effect to the spirit and letter of the Convention through the preparation of operational guidelines. He also stated that the Intergovernmental Committee must establish the terms and conditions of use of the International Fund for Cultural Diversity and determine the nature of the reports each party must submit every four years to UNESCO describing the steps taken to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions within its territory. Mr. Matsuura’s preliminary schedule also foresees a special session of the Intergovernmental Committee in May 2008 and a regular session in autumn 2008 followed, if necessary, by a second special session in February 2009. He believes that the second Conference of Parties could be held two years after the first in June 2009, in order to adopt all texts drafted by the Committee. In closing, he said that meetings of experts should be planned on specific subjects that require conceptual development or that come to the fore in debates. He stressed, however, that this preliminary schedule would be adjusted as actual work progressed and needs were identified.

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