Cultural diversity

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The Mercosur coalitions meet in Asunción, Paraguay

Canada’s Coalition for Cultural Diversity website features a report on the first meeting of the Mercosur coalitions and neighboring countries, which was held from May 20 to 22, 2009, in Paraguay. The meeting was organized jointly by the National Secretariat for Culture of Paraguay and the Paraguayan Coalition for Cultural Diversity. Excerpts from the report follow.

“Close to 150 persons attended the opening ceremonies, which took place at the National Congress of Paraguay with several members of Congress and local diplomatic authorities in attendance. Among the guests of honor were Enrique Gonzalez Quintana, Chairman of the National Congress; Ticio Escobar, Minister for Culture, Industry, and Commerce; Iris Rocio Gonzalez, Senator and Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Culture; and Alejandra Diaz of the Paraguayan Coalition, who each welcomed the attendees.

“Following these speeches, Frédéric Vacheron, representative of UNESCO’s regional Mercosur office, and Jean-Luc Pilon, representative of the Secretariat of the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (IFCCD), delivered presentations on the application of the UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and on the challenges facing the coalitions and cultural organizations as part of the current campaign for ratification and implementation of the Convention.

“A public seminar on implementation of the Convention followed. During this seminar, which was attended by more than one hundred people, coalition representatives presented models of cultural policies currently in force in the various cultural sectors of their respective countries. These presentations enabled an exchange with the public, and also allowed for a consideration of concrete actions to implement the Convention.

“On the final day of the meeting, delegates from the coalitions and professional cultural organizations moderated industry roundtables along with representatives of Paraguayan organizations with a view to cooperating on the development of a national convention implementation action plan.

“The Mercosur coalitions also held a dedicated meeting of their own at which representatives reported on their activities at the local level since a previous meeting of the Coalitions of the Americas held in Bogotá in November 2007. Following lively discussions, the coalitions in attendance undertook to immediately begin work on a number of specific projects, which they included in the final declaration.”

Coalition representatives notably committed to writing reports on their activities and their countries’ main culture policies. The declaration is available in Spanish from the IFCCD website.