Cultural diversity

Newsletter
The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 3, no 32, Monday, October 27, 2003

La diversité culturelle : une belle réussite à l’unesco et au ripc

IN THIS ISSUE :

Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Publications and Studies

Other News of Interest



Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

La diversité culturelle : une belle réussite à l’unesco et au ripc

Mission en france et en croatie de mme line beauchamp, ministre de la culture et des communications du québec

Opatija, le 17 octobre 2003 – 2003/10/17

Ms Line Beauchamp gives a very positive report of her mission to France and Croatia. Among the outcomes of the 32nd session of the UNESCO General Conference she attended in Paris, Ms Beauchamp is particularly pleased with UNESCO’S decision to back an international convention on cultural diversity. Pointing out that Québec joined with Canada and France to give impetus to the draft convention, Ms Beauchamp notably declares that “It’s a great victory! The unanimous adoption gives UNESCO’s director general the task of drafting a binding convention, which is what we wanted.” Moreover, after attending the 6th Annual Ministerial Meeting of the International Network on Cultural Policy (INCP), Ms Beauchamp suggests that the INCP’s role from this point on be to lend its support through its expertise and studies to those working on drafting a convention on protecting the diversity of cultural content and artistic expression, a job UNESCO has given to director general Koïchiro Matsuura. (Available in French only)

Ministère de la Culture et des Communications

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L’unesco et le dossier de la diversité culturelle : un succès pour la diplomatie québécoise

Québec, le 15 octobre 2003 – 2003/10/15

Rejoicing in the recent developments at UNESCO with regard to cultural diversity, Ms Monique Gagnon-Tremblay sees a “happy end to the work of Québec diplomacy, which has shown both daring and vision in conveying and defending its point of view.” She notably declares that “UNESCO’s decision to have its director general start work on drafting a convention on cultural content and artistic expression is the first step in a process whose outcome will be at the next General Conference in two years.” Affirming also that “the Québec government will continue its efforts to ensure that the convention UNESCO adopts embodies the very spirit of Québec’s ideas”, Ms Gagnon-Tremblay thanks Ms Line Beauchamp, Minister of Culture and Communications, for her work as “the voice of the Québec government at the UNESCO General Conference.” (Available in French only)

Ministère des Relations internationales

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Une convention internationale sur la diversité culturelle doterait le domaine culturel d'un régime de droit parallèle au droit commercial international

Mme Line Beauchamp, ministre de la culture et des communications du Québec

Opatija, Croatie, le 17 octobre 2003 – 2003/10/17

In this speech given at the 6th Annual Ministerial Meeting of the International Network on Cultural Policy (INCP), which brought together 59 culture ministers as well as representatives from observer states and UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the French-speaking world, Ms Beauchamp declares that UNESCO’s “historic decision” to start work on an international convention on cultural diversity is “largely due to the work done beforehand by the INCP,” and that the results “also reflect the huge efforts by professional organizations and coalitions from civil society.” Remarking on Québec’s official position on cultural diversity in particular, which states Québec’s desire to “maintain its full right to intervene in support of culture and, to this end, support the adoption of an international convention on cultural diversity entrenching the rights of countries and governments to maintain, develop, and implement policies supporting culture and cultural diversity,” Ms Beauchamp states that such a convention would give the cultural domain parallel rights to international trade rights and an efficient dispute settlement mechanism.” Ms Beauchamp notably mentions various areas to reflect on “that could prove useful to both the authorities responsible for developing cultural policies and to UNESCO experts.” She also notes Québec’s commitment to “helping organize meetings and share knowledge and conclusions further to the work done by UNESCO”, to make the UNESCO General Conference in 2005 a success for the cause of cultural diversity. (Available in French only)

Ministère de la Culture et des Communications

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La diversité culturelle à l’unesco : une étape historique vers l'établissement de normes sur la promotion du commerce culturel équitable

Paris (France), le 14 octobre 2003 – 2003/10/14

As part of the 32nd session of the UNESCO General Conference, Ms Sheila Copps appeared before Commission IV (Culture) to show her support for an international convention on cultural diversity “that would establish international standards in this regard.” Stressing that UNESCO has taken a decisive step by choosing to go ahead with drafting the convention, Ms Copps declares that “This is a milestone in ensuring effective standard-setting for the promotion of equitable cultural exchange, and will help preserve common human heritage and foster development, peace, and democracy.” Ms Copps also indicates that the “governments of Canada and Québec are working closely together to move this draft forward,” and that “the solid partnership between various cultural groups has forced governments the world over to pay special attention to the question of cultural diversity.” She also states that Canada’s election to the UNESCO Executive Council “will allow it to work to ensure that the goals of the convention are achieved and that it adheres to agreements and other international obligations.” (Available in English and French only)

Ministère du Patrimoine canadien

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Canada - paper on cultural diversity in the free trade area of the americas (ftaa) negotiations

FTAA - Trade Negotiations Committee - (FTAA.TNC/w/195) - September 23, 2003 - 2003/09/23

This text describes the multilateral efforts in the Americas and international forums—notably UNESCO—to promote the importance of preserving cultural diversity and developing an international binding legal instrument that would set clear rules for countries to maintain policies encouraging cultural diversity. In this regard, Canada encourages signatory countries of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement to get actively involved at UNESCO and ensure that the outcomes of FTAA negotiations are fully consistent with such objectives. In addition, Canada reaffirms its position on cultural diversity found in the FTAA preamble, which recognizes that countries must maintain the ability to preserve, develop, and implement their cultural policies for the purpose of strengthening cultural diversity, given the essential role that cultural goods and services play in the identity and diversity of society and the lives of individuals. This approach to cultural diversity finds similar voice in the official positions of member states from the Americas, which have acknowledged the need for greater cooperation in drawing maximum benefits from globalization, while reducing its harmful effects on efforts to protect and promote cultural diversity in the Americas. (Available in English and Spanish only)

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Publications and Studies

Les industries culturelles: une exception économique ?

Stéphanie peltier – « culture, état et marché» - cahiers no 312 – janvier-février 2003

Janvier-Février 2003

In this text, Ms Peltier states that cultural industries call for exemptions. She notably stresses the need for states to adopt incentive and redistribution measures better able to encourage cultural diversity. According to her, reconciling “exemption” with “cultural diversity” should also be a priority. Ms Peltier uses as a starting point the idea that audiovisual, music, and literary works are unique in how they are produced, distributed, and consumed. Although the degree to which they are different varies by sector and these same differences can also apply to traditional goods, their combined weight sets cultural industries apart and makes their products “goods like no others.” (Available in French only)

La Documentation française

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Diversité culturelle et cinéma :une vision pour un pays en voie de développement

Christophe Germann, 10 juin 2003 –2003/06/10

“Are audiovisual products simple goods as the United States says they are, or is there something unique about them that would prevent their being bound by common free trade rules? What are the mechanisms states use to intervene in support of cultural diversity in film to stave off market imbalances and thereby avoid the risk of harmful uniformity?” In this text presented at an international conference at the University of Lucerne under the theme “International Trade and Cultural Diversity,” Mr. Christophe Germann provides answers by examining one-by-one the ties between international trade, marketing, and cultural diversity. Affirming that “the impact of WTO rules on state measures for promoting cultural diversity in film through subsidies and quota systems is currently one of the major problems with standards-based globalization,” Mr. Germann asks that we “denounce the cultural discrimination practiced by the giants of the ‘cultural industries’ that dominate the market.” Stating that market forces have up to now neither preserved nor encouraged cultural diversity in the audiovisual sector, the author counsels an approach aimed at developing a “world culture” based on respect for the diversity of cultural groups and calls on us to “force states to ban cultural discrimination.” To this end, he suggests exploring complementary courses and alternatives to the classical instruments of subsidies and quotas in order to promote cultural diversity in film in a lasting manner. According to him, there is a need to coordinate the applicable laws and policies at a national, regional, and global level to give expression to cultural diversity. In this regard, states that advocate cultural diversity in film should work together to lay out an agreement that regulates the cultural sector specifically. In Mr. Germann’s opinion, such an agreement should safeguard against abuses by market leaders that threaten cultural diversity in the audiovisual sector. (Available in French only)

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Other News of Interest

Unesco: engager la négociation d'une convention internationale sur la diversité culturelle

Ministère de la culture et de la communication et ministère des affaires étrangères de France

Paris, le 17 octobre 2003 - 2003/10/17

In this joint press release, the French ministers for foreign affairs and culture, Mr. Dominique de Villepin and Mr. Jean-Jacques Aillagon, express their satisfaction “with the adoption” by UNESCO of a resolution affirming that the question of cultural diversity “must be the subject of an international convention,” and thereby allowing work to start on an international convention on cultural diversity. The two ministers stress that this decision “bears out the international community’s resolve to preserve and promote cultural diversity and languages,” and “provides concrete proof of our common desire to work together in creating an international instrument to meet the challenges globalization poses with respect to cultural expression and development, which is a prerequisite for a balanced dialog among nations.” (Available in French only)

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Le combat pour la diversité culturelle est un combat essentiel. il concerne l’avenir-même de toutes les cultures

Jean-Jacques Aillagon, ministre français de la culture et de la communication

Paris, 13 octobre 2003 - 2003/10/13

“How can we lay an unassailable international legal foundation for actions by states and state groups aimed at supporting the protection, production, and distribution of cultural goods? How can we avoid letting ordinary market rules alone decide these questions due to a legal void?” In his speech on cultural diversity at UNESCO, Mr. Aillagon declares in this regard that “the desire for diversity should not be the preserve of a privileged few who already feel they have access to everything, but rather the goal of us all, as cultural diversity is also the expression of controlled and sustainable development.” He notably stresses that there is an “urgency to act” as manifested by “the increasing fragility of many cultures” and “the inroads made by a form of globalization that would confine culture to entertainment and hold up our most banal ideas, feelings, and works as proof that humanity’s universal destiny had been attained.” We must therefore “work to protect the diversity of cultural content and artistic expression.” To do so, “let us charge the director general with the work. He will then be able to draw on experts to clear the way and flesh out the main elements of a convention.” (Available in French only)

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Unesco : la diversité culturelle fera loi en 2005

Le Figaro, édition du 20 octobre 2003 - 2003/10/20

According to Ms Marie-Douce Albert, by unanimously agreeing to have director general Koïchiro Matsuura start work on drafting a convention for the next General Conference in 2005 “that will preserve the cultural policies of states,” UNESCO wanted to send the message that “the plot of a novel, a few notes of music, or images from a film are not just goods. They thus have the right to be protected from the untoward effects of globalization.” Ms Albert also mentions that “eventually, such a convention could authorize, for example, distribution quotas, production aid policies, and all other measures countries deem useful for preserving their culture and language.” (Available in French only)

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La convention internationale sur la diversité culturelle : une réponse à l’hégémonisme culturel

MENARA International - Maroc, le 17 octobre 2003 - 2003/10/17

This article discusses the fact that the future convention will aim to promote cultural diversity and also provide “a response to the cultural hegemony underpinning trade globalization.” Mr. Said Raisi states in effect that “television and film are the main vehicles for propagating the dominant culture and they need protection if we do not want to see them yield to the onslaught of Western programs.” In this regard, he mentions that in these bitter battles “against liberalizing cultural and audiovisual services,” the United States “holds fast to its aggressive trade stance and even goes so far as to impose bilateral treaties of dubious morality that open up national markets to it, sometimes in exchange for funding or food aid!” It even happens, he adds, that the U.S. “asks countries to sacrifice their audiovisual rights in exchange for membership in the WTO…From this arises the need for a convention that, after being ratified by states, becomes an integral, binding part of their legal system.” (Available in French only)

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Diversité culturelle : le débat est lancé à l’unesco

Le Quotidien du Sénégal, édition du 17 octobre 2003 - 2003/10/17

For Ms Myriam Berber, the idea is to give “legally binding value” to UNESCO’s universal declaration on cultural diversity adopted in November 2001. This draft convention proclaims the right of states to develop their own cultural policies and support and protect cultural products. This text, she stresses, “will help enshrine the rules for protecting cultural goods and content in international law.” (Available in French only)

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16 mois pour aider l’unesco à formuler un texte fédérateur permettant de préserver la diversité culturelle

Le Figaro, édition du 20 octobre 2003 - 2003/10/20

Covering the 6th Annual Ministerial Meeting of the International Network on Cultural Policy (INCP) in Opatija, Croatia, Mr. Eric Biétry-Rivierre states that even though “the INCP has been UNESCO’s engine and toolbox…the decision to create a supranational law for protecting cultural policies is only one step. We will only know if we have won the war for cultural diversity in 2005, once the law is passed.” According to him, the INCP thus resolved in Opatija “ not to rest on its laurels. It has sixteen months to help UNESCO draft a text all parties can agree to while continuing its efforts to persuade less-committed countries or even the United States. It’s not much at all. However, the network does not lack for arguments. To force Hollywood or Silicon Valley to join the debate, the INCP plans, for example, to work on a plan for the global fight against content piracy.” (Available in French only)

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