Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

The Third Session of the Intergovernmental Meeting of Experts on the Preliminary Draft Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions and the Study of the Draft Convention by the UNESCO General Conference at it

This text of our chronicle is the last in the series that professor Ivan Bernier produced on the proceedings leading to the adoption of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural, particularly its ending at the third session of the intergovernmental meeting of experts.

In the conclusion arising from the study of the draft Convention by the UNESCO General Conference which finally adopted this Convention at its 33 rd session last October 20, 2005, Mr. Bernier makes out two distinct visions of the interface trade/culture that were permanently confronted around this question, reflecting themselves the double nature of culture products, products exchanged at once through trade and language of social communication. According to Mr. Bernier, These two visions, with their own consistency, are equally legitimate: "UNESCO has just as much right, from a cultural viewpoint, to keep in sight the repercussions of the economic globalisation and free trade on the preservation and the development of cultural expressions than WTO has a right, from a commercial viewpoint, to keep in sight the repercussions of the measures set forth within a Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions. Therefore, unless the UNESCO Member States accept that culture preoccupations be less important than commercial ones, the solution to this problem of international management cannot consist in the genuine affirmation of the preponderance of the commercial perspective over the cultural one. A solution must thereby be found that be respectful at once of either perspectives", he maintains.

Besides, Mr. Bernier notices a "remarkable phenomenon", which is that the resolute opposition from the USA could not triumph over the equally resolute will of the vast majority of the Members to have at their disposal, as soon as possible, an international instrument intended to guarantee the protection and the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions and which would set culture at an even level with the other international instruments. Thus, he underlines that at the end of arduous negotiations where everyone had to make concessions, those considered that the draft Convention finally approved reflected a very broad consensus and showed the desire that this one be approved by the General Conference as the UNESCO Convention. Several States shared some of the USA preoccupations and the vast majority of them would have appreciated that the latter sign this Convention.

In the end, Mr. Bernier asserts that "If any conclusions may be drawn from this negotiation, it is foremost that political will whenever resting on conviction and courage, will sometimes overcome obstacles seemingly insuperable and that international management may hardly be erected on a scaled down vision of human needs".

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