Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

Avant-projet de convention de l’UNESCO sur la diversité culturelle : "La Suisse priée d'entrer en résistance culturelle"

La Tribune de Genève, vendredi 3 septembre 2004

In this article, InfoSud journalist Daniel Wermus looks at the challenges of the UNESCO draft convention on cultural diversity and the importance of strong civil society support for the treaty. He argues that “a convention on cultural diversity is a crucial tool for counterbalancing international trade treaties and must increase the ability of states to withstand market pressures.” He agrees with the need for openness, “but on the condition that the weak are able to coexist with the strong.” He feels that the preliminary draft of the UNESCO convention “is a move in the right direction […], notably because it promotes free and fair access to various forms of cultural expression (and therefore to markets as well), as well as support for enhancing the cultural production capabilities of the poorer countries.” However, he also sees “numerous weaknesses” in the draft, including the “absence of sanctions” and its ability to “impose the primacy of the right to diversity over WTO rules.” He believes that the convention “applies solely to culture that is bought and sold, and thereby threatens to marginalize other forms.” He also argues that vibrant and varied cultural goods and services that meet our societies’ needs and foste dialog and mutual respect between cultures cannot be achieved unless civil society takes action and consumers make demands. However, in his view, these actors are largely ignored in the draft. The author also calls for “a campaign to fight malinformation and mind-numbing monoculture” and hopes that “Swiss ‘resistance’ may make a contribution.” (Available in French) [71]