Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

"Preliminary Reflection on the Implementation of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in the Digital Age"

The report "Preliminary Reflection on the Implementation of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in the Digital Age" was recently written by Véronique Guèvremont, Professor in the Faculty of Law and Institute for Advanced International Studies at Université Laval and co-founder of the International Network of Lawyers for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (Réseau international des juristes pour la diversité des expressions culturelles-RIJDEC).

The executive summary reads as follows:

"This report examines the impact of digital technologies on the way the diversity of cultural expressions is evolving and proposes a number of topics for discussion with a view to adapting the implementation of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions to the particularities of the digital environment.

While digital technologies offer extraordinary possibilities for enriching the diversity of cultural expressions, they also increase the risk of certain cultures remaining on the sidelines. Without the space and time restrictions of the "material world," these technologies allow a growing mass of "dematerialized" cultural expressions to circulate more freely and be more accessible to a broader public. The arrival of the digital age thus poses new challenges to States wishing to adopt and implement effective cultural policies and measures to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions in their territories and on the international scene.

The metamorphosis of the landscape in which cultural expressions now find themselves raises a number of questions concerning the adaptations required to effectively implement the 2005 Convention in this day and age. This study, however, rejects the idea of amending the instrument since such amendments to the text do not appear essential to the pursuit of the objectives of protecting and promoting cultural diversity in the digital world. While no provisions of the Convention explicitly mention digital technologies, the instrument implicitly conforms to the principle of technological neutrality. As such, the obligations of the Parties can be implemented regardless of the environment—material or virtual—in which the cultural expressions are produced and disseminated. An examination of its scope of application and the relevant definitions led to the same conclusion: the 2005 Convention allows the Parties to take the particularities of the digital cultural ecosystem into account when they adopt policies and measures to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions.

While the text and the operational guidelines make no mention of issues specific to the digital world, a discussion on ways to adapt or guide the implementation of the relevant provisions of the Convention should nonetheless be encouraged in order to ensure that the objectives set by the Parties can also be attained in the digital environment. The study has assembled these provisions into four topics that merit in-depth discussion: (1) adapting national cultural policies to the particularities of the digital environment; (2) taking the reality of the digital world into account when deploying measures to educate and raise the awareness of the public, increase the participation of civil society and integrate culture into sustainable development; (3) cooperating to accelerate the digital shift in developing countries, especially by transferring digital technologies, strengthening the capacity to use these technologies and increasing the availability of digital cultural expressions from these countries; and (4) promoting the objectives of the 2005 Convention in other relevant negotiation forums, especially in negotiations of bilateral, regional and multilateral trade agreements whose scope of application extends to digital products.

This report calls on the Parties to react promptly to the new challenges posed by the reality of the digital world when implementing the 2005 Convention. It also invites the Parties to reject any form of compartmentalized discussions and to favour an open approach in order to take into account the way digital technologies are influencing the evolution of other legal instruments, notably trade agreements, whose e-commerce provisions may have an impact on the diversity of digital cultural expressions."

To access the full report, please go to the Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity website.

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