Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

Update of French version and publication of English version of the essay The Relationship Between the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and Other International Instruments: The Emergence of a New Balance in the Interface Between Commerce and Culture, by Ivan Bernier

We are pleased to announce the publication of the English version of the study The Relationship Between the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and Other International Instruments: The Emergence of a New Balance in the Interface Between Commerce and Culture by Professor Ivan Bernier.

We would also like our readers to know that the French version of this study was just updated to take into account recent developments. In July, the Bulletin published the introduction to this study, as follows:

“Although Section V of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which addresses the Convention’s relationship to other instruments, only contains two articles (20 and 21), it is undeniably the section that sparked the most debate during negotiations. Its drafting was the source of lively discussions in the plenary conference and in the working group set up to reach a consensus on the relationships to be established between the Convention and other instruments. It is no surprise, therefore, that the definitive wording for articles 20 and 21 was not adopted until the very end of the negotiations.

“Two visions divided the States. Seeing in the Preliminary Draft of the Convention a veiled attempt to remove culture from the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) purview, certain countries voiced a desire to have it expressly stipulated in the future Convention that trade commitments would take precedence over the cultural commitments of the Parties to the Convention. However, for the vast majority of States, cultural goods and services could not be considered exclusively as merchandise or consumer goods because they convey identities, values, and meanings. In their eyes, culture must have a legitimate place next to the other concerns of the WTO. Reaching a consensus meant ensuring that the text of the official Convention clearly established the absence of any relation of subordination between itself and other international agreements. In other words, a new balance between commerce and culture had to be found.

“These seemingly irreconcilable positions made for intensive legal wrangling. As we will see, the text that was finally adopted contains a certain amount of ambiguity, but faithfully reflects the desire shared by the vast majority of States to exclude any form of subordination between the Convention and the other treaties to which they are party without compromising other treaty commitments they have made.

“In the following pages, we will first analyze the content of Article 20, entitled ‘Relationship to other treaties: mutual supportiveness, complementarity, and non-subordination,’ to highlight its progressive character as an interpretative provision. Next, we will look at Article 21, entitled “International consultation and coordination,” which supplements Article 20 by stipulating that the Parties must promote the Convention’s objectives and principles in other international forums, and consult each other on the matter as needed. We will take a closer look at the role of the Intergovernmental Committee in this respect and examine the procedures and other mechanisms that could be implemented to meet these commitments.”

The English and French versions of this study are available on our website. Spanish and Arabic versions will be added shortly.