Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

La convention sur la diversité culturelle : pourquoi pas l’unesco ?

Intervention de madame katérina stenou, directrice de la division des politiques culturelles et du dialogue interculturel - unesco, 21 mai 2003 – 2003/05/21

In the debate organized by the UNESCO Francophone Group on the theme “Cultural Diversity, Its challenges, and the Advisability of an Agreement,” Ms Sténou spoke of UNESCO’s experience in standardization and of the specific challenges of adopting a binding cultural diversity instrument today. Ms Sténou expressed her full confidence in the ability of UNESCO’s governing bodies (Executive Council and General Conference) to overcome the obstacles that still lay ahead. In particular, she asks that they “make sure that the current tendency to push industries to constantly reinvent themselves in broader and more culturally eclectic world not create a fatal imbalance in the short term for developing countries, the essential purveyors of this cultural richness.” She says that “UNESCO’s moral authority requires it to safeguard not only what is created, such as finished products and negotiables, but also ensure a global environment that is conducive to multiculturalism and multilingualism and the ability of cultures to renew the themselves in perpetuity and a state of uncertainty via spontaneous dialogue, free from political or business constraints. The role of democratic states would not be overridden, but rather reinforced since they would be the guarantors of this dialogue.” Ms Sténou went on to say that UNESCO, “with its adoption of its Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, has the political legitimacy, experience, and legal expertise it will take to meet the challenges of a more binding legal instrument.” She further explained that under UNESCO, enforcement would not mean classic protectionism, but creating an environment favorable to the freedom of expression of all cultures and that crosses national boundaries. Any enforcement measure must be to promote this freedom alone. (Available in French only)