Cultural diversity

The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 3, no 39, Monday, December 15, 2003

La Commission mixte Canada-France réitère son appui à la diversité culturelle

Our cultural diversity column for September-October is now available online. In it, Professor Ivan Bernier discusses “THE USE OF STATISTICAL DATA IN NEGOTIATIONS ON A NEW INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT ON CULTURAL DIVESRITY AT UNESCO” through an analysis of local and foreign content indicators.

You can also access all of our weekly cultural diversity news updates in the “Current Events” section of our Website.


Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Publications and Studies

Other News of Interest

Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

La Commission mixte Canada-France réitère son appui à la diversité culturelle

TÉLÉFILM CANADA, 9 décembre 2003 - 2003/12/09

Over 40 representatives from the Canadian and French audiovisual sector met in Paris on November 13 and 14 for the 2003 Canada-France Joint Commission to take stock of the evolution of their respective cultural landscapes and of coproduction activity over the past three years. They also reiterated their belief in the principle of cultural diversity and their desire to take a united stand on this subject at UNESCO given the organization’s plans to adopt an international convention protecting the diversity of cultural content and artistic expression.  (Available in French and English only)


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L’Alliance globale pour la diversité culturelle - soutenir le développement des industries créatrices

M. KOÏCHIRO MATSUURA, Directeur général de l’UNESCO (DG/2003/168)

Paris, le 2 décembre 2003 - 2003/12/02

At the opening of the conference presenting the achievements of the UNESCO Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity, Mr. Matsuura stressed that the goal of the Alliance is “to support the development of creative industries […] in order to effectively meet the need for a more balanced, culturally diverse market, greater equity in development, and heightened enforcement of intellectual property rights through firmer opposition to various forms of piracy.” Recalling that the General Conference had given him a mandate to prepare a draft convention on the protection of cultural content and artistic expression, Mr. Matsuura said that UNESCO’s challenge is to develop and present member states with “a standard-setting international instrument containing measures capable of ensuring the relative sustainability of existing cultural diversity while at the same time stimulating creativity and the worldwide circulation of the various forms of artistic expression.” In his view, the Global Alliance “could further ongoing reflection on standards by providing concrete examples of ways in which cultural offerings can be expanded to the national and international level for the benefit of all and for the benefit of diversity itself, through a new kind of solidarity and new modes of partnership.” (Available in French only)

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Union européenne : «Une contribution au principe actif que constitue la diversité culturelle» - Bilan du conseil éducation et culture

Mme VIVIANE REDING, Membre de la Commission européenne en charge de l’éducation et de la culture

Bruxelles, le 2 décembre 2003 - 2003/12/02

In this appraisal, Ms Reding reviews the various steps leading up to the adoption of the principle of the forthcoming UNESCO international convention on cultural diversity, emphasizing the contribution of the European Union (EU) and EU culture ministers. Although pleased with the widespread support for a convention, Ms Reding acknowledges that “there is still work to be done to reach agreement on content and answer certain questions regarding, for example, perceptions of the document as protectionist, or the link between the agreement and human rights and societal values.” She urges the European Commission to make a further contribution by finalizing the report on cultural diversity. (Available in French only)

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L’Union européenne renforcera la protection de la diversité culturelle

M. CLAUS EBERMANN, ambassadeur de la délégation de la Commission européenne en Chine

Radio Chine internationale, le 3 décembre 2003 - 2003/12/03

At the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Intercontinental Conference on Cultures and Civilizations in Beijing, China, from December 2 to 3, Mr. Ebermann declared that the European Union would not only “continue supporting the cultural policy of its member states, but also introduce cultural content devoted to political dialog with third countries.” He went on to describe cultural diversity as the key to the process of European integration in the EC treaty. (Available in French only)

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Publications and Studies

ONG, temoins de la diversite culturelle: du concept à la mise en oeuvre

Commission programmatique mixte ONG-UNESCO - Dialogue entre les cultures pour la paix

UNESCO, décembre 2003 - 2003/12

Drawing on the work of the recent General Conference—particularly the final resolution calling on the UNESCO director general to study the desirability of transforming the 2001 Declaration on Cultural Diversity into a binding convention to be submitted for adoption at the next Conference—the UNESCO-NGO Joint Program Commission has added its own contribution by releasing a report illustrating problems linked to the dialog of cultures and exploring solutions appropriate for a wide variety of geographical, cultural, and social contexts. The document contains texts by experts explaining the significance of cultural diversity and the issues it raises, NGO presentations of a variety of meaningful experiences in the practice of cultural diversity, and a summary of debates. In her introductory remarks, Ms Katérina Sténou, director of UNESCO’s Division of Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue, stresses the urgency of clarifying current conceptions of cultural diversity and the need to avoid “a crude hodgepodge” and “overly vague definitions reducing the notion to a comfortable preconception that panders to the spirit and seduces public opinion without any mobilizing effect.” She adds that it is equally urgent “to address the conceptual, legal, and political challenges raised by the adoption of the Declaration and the pending debate on the desirability of a convention on cultural diversity.” She affirms that “in the medium term, only a policy capable of transforming the reality of diversity into a pluralist ideal can resolve the conflicts of interest exacerbated by globalization.” She also believes that it is urgent to “explore the innumerable links between cultural diversity, dialog, and development,” declaring that “not only must we all recognize otherness in all its forms, but also the plurality of our own identities within today’s pluralistic societies. Only then can we preserve cultural diversity as both an evolving process and a capacity for expression, creation, and innovation.” (Available in French only)

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Other News of Interest

Les Rencontres cinématographiques de Bamako : éloge à la diversité culturelle

What steps can be taken to protect African audiovisual production against the ravages of globalization? That is the question on the agenda at Les Rencontres cinématographiques de Bamako, a gathering of African film industry professionals to be held in Mali from January 22 to 25. Modeled on its sister event in Beaune, France, the four-day meeting will examine the conditions required to develop an independent film and audiovisual industry in the region. Organizers will use the event to stress that “African cinema, despite its modest resources, is part of the essential cultural diversity of humanity.”

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L'Alliance globale pour la diversité culturelle présente ses premiers résultats

On December 2, UNESCO held a conference at its Paris headquarters entitled “Supporting the Growth of Creative Industries” ( The goal of the conference was to present the first concrete achievements of the Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity (, a UNESCO initiative launched in January 2002 to forge new partnerships among public and private sectors and civil society in order to strengthen the cultural industries of developing and transition countries while guaranteeing more effective protection of intellectual property. The conference was attended by numerous officials, including representatives of the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Ford Foundation, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, ILO, and UNCTAD. The program and list of participants are available online at


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Diversité culturelle 2 - Notes sur la 5ème Conférence ministérielle de l'OMC à Cancún (Mexique) du 10-14 septembre 2003


Cabinet d’avocats SCARAYE, mars-novembre 2003 - 2003/03-11

In a series of articles appearing on the Website of the legal firm SCARAYE, Ms Yannick-Eléonore Scaramozzino, a Paris lawyer, analyzes the situation facing the European film industry, including the issue of cultural diversity in the context of trade liberalization, by exploring potential rival or complementary roles for WTO and UNESCO. Articles include “From cultural exception to cultural diversity”; “Trade liberalization: bottom-up or top-down approach”; “Liberalization: an irreversible process?”; “Main threats”; “Civil society and artists defend cultural diversity in Cancun”; and “UNESCO mandated to develop an international standard-setting instrument on cultural diversity.” (Available in French only)

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De la société de l'information à la cohabitation culturelle

M. DOMINIQUE WOLTON, directeur de recherche au CNRS

Libération, édition du 8 décembre 2003 - 2003/12/08

In this article, Mr. Dominique Wolton, author of the 2003 book L’Autre Mondialisation, affirms the urgency of regulating the Internet and defending the principle of respect for the other. In his view, “the globalization of information does not engender a global village or a networked society, but rather a new challenge for cultural diversity. It does not lead to a shared definition of information, but to an obligation to manage diversity and otherness—a very political challenge that has little to do with technology.” He also declares that “in light of this new challenge, where differences always outweigh similarities, information systems can play a role, but only on the condition that we dispense with a naïve, all-powerful vision of technology.” He affirms that there are three radical tests for determining shift in focus from an information society to cultural cohabitation. Furthermore, cultural cohabitation is a paradigm for the third wave of globalization, one dominated by culture and society, where politics is the arbitrating principle for global diversity. In his view, “the third wave of globalization reveals the irreducible character of cultural diversity and the need to achieve peaceful cohabitation in order to avoid communitarianism and remain faithful to the democratic ideals of the international community.” (Available in French only)

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Diversité culturelle: OMC-UNESCO - Rivalité ou complémentarité ?

YVON THIEC, Délégué général Eurocinéma

CINEUROPA, 13 novembre 2003 - 2003/11/13

In this text, Mr. Thiec argues that even though cultural diversity issues were not discussed at the Conference, the failure to reach an agreement on the Singapore agenda is a positive development for the European audiovisual and film industry given that talks on trade and investment and trade and competition policy could lead to significant restrictions on government cultural policies. Although many countries limit or control foreign investment in cultural industries or use competition policy to promote domestic artists and cultural productions in the face of huge multinational media conglomerates, the introduction of horizontal rules governing culture could seriously undermine national cultural policies. Mr. Thiec urges governments to pay attention to key actors like Brazil, whose position at UNESCO could be influenced by EU’s response to Brazilian expectations regarding the WTO process, and Australia, which is under immense pressure from Hollywood to include film and TV in the bilateral free trade agreement it is currently negotiating with the U.S. (Available in French only)

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Sommet mondial sur la société de l'information (SMSI): «diversité culturelle et solidarité numérique»

M. Karim Dronet, Maroc Télécom

Le 10 décembre 2003

Moroccan communication minister Mr. Nabil Benabdallah declared that WSIS should “be based on the principle of solidarity between developed and less developed countries in order to respond to aspirations for a global information society that benefits all peoples.” Asserting that a global information society must also respect the principle of protecting the inalienable right to information, he stressed the importance of establishing “suitable conditions for implementing the concept of a global communication and information society characterized by the spirit of democracy and culturally and linguistically diverse content.” (Available in French only)

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Médias audiovisuels : SEFOR 2003 - «La diversité culturelle : une chance, un défi, un levier»

M. S. DOUMBIA, Agence malienne de presse et de publicité

l'Essor n°15096 édition du 3 décembre 2003 – 2003/12/03

Radio and television professionals from French-language public broadcasters met in Bamako, Mali, during the 13th edition of the SEFOR training seminar to discuss cultural diversity. “How do we reflect cultural diversity without resorting to simple compilations? How can we defend it without preaching? How can we bring it to life without giving the impression of imposing it on the public?” While some participants acknowledged that SEFOR is an effective tool for North-South cooperation, others insisted on the key role of audiovisual media in promoting cultural diversity. (Available in French only)

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