On March 11 the Commonwealth Foundation hosted a seminar entitled “Sharing Strengths” in collaboration with the Québec Government Office at Marlborough House in London. According to the press release published on the Québec International government website, some thirty experts from UNESCO and the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) as well as representatives from Commonwealth governments and cultural sectors met to discuss the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
“Québec provided the Foundation special support for the event. The primary goal was to find ways to engage more Commonwealth countries in the ratification process of the UNESCO Convention adopted in 2005,” according to the press release. “The seminar enabled Commonwealth representatives to establish working relations with representatives from OIF for the first time. […] Future collaboration for ratifying the UNESCO Convention is now feasible.”
Québec International notes that Québec provided technical expertise on the subject with the participation of Éric Théroux, Director General of Multilateral Affairs and International Commitments at Ministère des Relations internationales du Québec. “During his address, Mr. Théroux underscored important aspects of the UNESCO Convention, explained why ratification is crucial, and gave a brief summary of Québec’s involvement in the Convention.” Jim McKee, general secretary of the International Federation of the Coalitions for Cultural Diversity, also discussed the role civil society, particularly professional cultural associations, plays in the process.
The release states that participants were divided into working groups in the afternoon to discuss three major issues: “engaging all Commonwealth countries in the Convention’s ratification, involving civil society, and developing measures and mechanisms for implementing the Convention.” By the close of the meeting, participants “had agreed on a number of recommendations, including the need to heighten public awareness and understanding of the Convention and to work toward making the International Fund for Cultural Diversity, which will be established as a result of the Convention, operational.”
We also invite you to read the press release issued by the Commonwealth Foundation after the seminar.