Cultural diversity

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Koïchiro Matsuura opens the second extraordinary session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

On March 23, 2009, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura opened the second extraordinary session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions at UNESCO headquarters.

After welcoming committee chair Véra Lacoeuilhe (from St. Lucia) and paying homage to her unfailing support for the Convention, Mr. Matsuura said how happy he was to see that the Convention, which came into effect on March 18, 2007, now included the signatures of some 96 State Parties.

“I know this Convention has greatly contributed to placing the question of cultural diversity at the heart of the issues of dialogue, creativity, and development. These founding principles, which are now better recognized at the international level, are currently the source of many national projects, particularly in the field of cultural and education policies.” He went on to add, according to the UNESCO website, that in terms of international norms and standards, including the 1972 Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the 2005 Convention, UNESCO now had all the legislative tools it needed to simultaneously protect and promote the many facets of cultural diversity.

The Director-General noted that the Committee, in adopting a series of directives, had almost completed the mandate entrusted to it by the Conference of the Parties in June 2007, and further added that the current extraordinary session would conclude with a review of the draft guidelines on Article 16, entitled "Preferential Treatment for Developing Countries."

Matsuura also said that he was pleased with developments in the reflections on funding for the International Fund for Cultural Diversity—which has over $1 million in hand—and the new contributions it had recently received, saying "These examples are very encouraging. For my part, it is my sincere wish that contributions and donations will be made in support of cultural industries in developing countries."

Mentioning that the Committee’s work would be sent for review and approval at the next Conference of the Parties to be held at UNESCO headquarters from June 15 to 18, 2009, Matsuura concluded by saying that it was “a crucial step in the development of the Convention since it will represent the concrete start of its operational implementation and with it, of the International Fund for Cultural Diversity.”

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