Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Switzerland: two major UNESCO conventions on culture come into effect

Since October 16, 2008, Switzerland has been a full party to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. “By adopting these two instruments, it joins some one hundred countries who have chosen tradition, creativity, the enrichment of cultural identities, and the anchoring of culture in their national and international agenda,” stated the Swiss Confederation.

According to the Swiss Confederation press release, Swiss ratification of these two documents “has been greatly supported during the last two years by all concerned parties, particularly through the very active participation of civil society during public hearings and consultations.”

The press release goes on to say that “by joining the many states that have become party to these conventions, Switzerland is committed to taking the steps required to maintain its vibrant traditional culture—a living heritage passed from one generation to the next—while ensuring the diversity of creativity and cultural products as elements of cultural enrichment and sharing, as well as instruments of cooperation and solidarity.”

In order to quickly develop the tools that will allow Switzerland to fulfill its commitments, certain initiatives are already underway and others will soon be taken “in a spirit of cooperation and the desire to share on the part of all parties involved.”

The press release goes on to say that Switzerland’s federal office for culture is working closely with the Swiss Commission for UNESCO, the Swiss cantons, and those possessing living heritage to develop proposals for creating an inventory of intangible cultural heritage in Switzerland. The proposals will be presented and discussed with those possessing cultural heritage and all other members of civil society interested in tradition and its future during an information and consultation meeting on Monday, November 17, 2008, in Berne. This meeting is an initiative by the Swiss Commission for UNESCO, with the support of the Swiss federal office for culture.

Turning its attention to cultural diversity, the press release indicates that—following a period of analysis, cooperation, and expertise gathering which could take up to a year—the Swiss Coalition for Cultural Diversity and the Swiss Commission for UNESCO are planning to create a roadmap “to ensure that cultural diversity becomes more than a slogan—at the political level and on the ground, in Switzerland and around the world.”