Cultural diversity

The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 3, no 30, Wednesday, October 15, 2003

International standard-setting instrument on cultural diversity

In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, October 14, delegates at the 32nd session of the UNESCO General Conference ending in Paris this week unanimously passed a resolution on “a new standard-setting instrument on cultural diversity.” Due to the momentousness of the occasion, which launches UNESCO on a course to cultural diversity, we bring you this special edition of the cultural diversity newsletter with information on the resolution.


Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

The 32nd session of unesco’s general conference approves unanimously the elaboration by 2005 of an international convention regarding the protection of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions

GERM, 14 octobre 2003 – 2003/10/14

This document adopted by UNESCO Commission IV calls on the General Assembly to “decide that the question of cultural diversity […] shall be the subject of an international convention.” It invites UNESCO director general Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura to submit to the 33rd General Conference in two years a preliminary report accompanied by the first draft of a convention on protecting the diversity of cultural content and artistic expression. (Available in English only)

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Pour une mobilisation immédiate en faveur d’une convention internationale sur la diversité culturelle par mmes monique gagnon-tremblay, vice-première ministre, ministre des relations internationales et ministre responsable de la francophonie et line beauchamp, ministre de la culture et des communications du québec

Paris, le 14 0ctobre 2003 – 2003/10/14

In this article published by French daily Le Figaro on October 14, 2003, Ms Gagnon-Tremblay and Ms Beauchamp express their hope that Québec culture, “both real and diverse,” will be further enriched through contact with other cultures while maintaining its own personality. They state that “reaching out to the world while remaining true to ourselves is the approach we defend in all forums where cultural diversity is discussed. We do it for ourselves, in the hope that the peoples of the world will join us because this initiative requires the support and encouragement of all those who wish to continue developing and sharing their culture.” Faced with “globalization conceived on a strictly economic basis” that could “harm the valuable mechanisms that many states, countries, and governments have developed to support cultural production,” Ms Gagnon-Tremblay and Ms Beauchamp explain that “the Government of Québec was one of the first to officially take up the cause for an international convention on cultural diversity.” This desire, reiterated by premier Jean Charest, was officially restated in a cabinet decision updating the Government of Québec’s position in favor of cultural diversity. Ms Gagnon-Tremblay and Ms Beauchamp do not view this as a rejection of globalization, but simply an effort to better meet the challenges of globalization and make it even more beneficial: “That’s why we want an international convention on cultural diversity that preserves our right to support our artists and cultural industries, in order to prevent the spread of a single world culture.” They believe that “each vote in favor of an international convention on cultural diversity is a big step toward what can already be called our cultural freedom.” For this reason, “adopting an international convention on cultural diversity, as UNESCO members are discussing at this very moment, deserves as much of our attention as ongoing trade negotiations.” (Available in French only)
Ministère de la Culture et des Communications

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Un axe franco-canadien pour la diversité culturelle

Le Monde , le 13 octobre 2003 – 2003/10/13

In this interview with Le Monde, Ms Sheila Copps, Minister of Canadian Heritage, discusses the challenges facing the UNESCO General Conference in the area of culture and defends the supranational nature of the draft international convention on cultural diversity awaiting UNESCO approval. According to Ms Copps, “Globalization must respect the right of each country to defend its culture, civilization, and what it expresses through its books, films, and television,” adding that “we are proposing a convention on cultural diversity so that all these areas are protected.” Ms Copps states that “with Hollywood, everything flows one way, from the United States abroad. With a UNESCO convention, we want to make sure that rights will not be suppressed.” She stresses that “the idea is not to let only wealthy countries keep their little piece of the pie. We also want to give all countries that do not yet have cultural industries the opportunity of creating them so that their artists can also receive commercial recognition.” (Available in French only)

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Il nous faut maintenant ancrer dans le droit par une convention» les principes de la diversité culturelle

Discours de monsieur Jacques Chirac, president de la republique française, devant la 32ème conference generale de l’unesco
Paris, le 14 octobre 2003 – 2003/10/14

In this speech, French president Jacques Chirac urges the 32nd UNESCO General Conference to adopt an international convention on cultural diversity, assuring the United States that such a legal instrument would protect the specific nature of cultural production "and not constitute protectionism in any way." According to Mr. Chirac, this convention would be a new “extension of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that upholds the principles thereof” and would “recognize each country’s right to adopt or maintain the public policies necessary for the preservation and development of its cultural and linguistic heritage.” This convention would also affirm “the specific nature of cultural production” and “build international solidarity, which is necessary for this right to benefit everyone.” Mr. Chirac further states that this convention “will be the international community’s response to attempts to use peoples’ identities to isolate them by distorting popular traditions, thereby fomenting conflict and turning peoples against each other in order to dominate them.” Mr. Chirac stresses that “what applies to our countries applies to the world. Far from being a form of protectionism, the convention on cultural diversity, by enshrining respect, will ensure that ideas are more free to circulate.” Mr. Chirac added that “today, we expect UNESCO to lead the way and give meaning and a humanist purpose to the forces behind globalization.” (Available in French only)

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