Cultural diversity

Newsletter
The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 3, no 20, Monday, June 30, 2003

Desirability of drawing up an international standard-setting instrument on cultural diversity

The “Cultural diversity News” column is taking a summer break and will return on August 18. See you then! In the meantime, all the sections of our Website will be available for you to consult at your leisure. We’ll be archiving documents in the various sections for you to view. 

IN THIS ISSUE :

Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Publications and Studies

Other News of Interest



Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Le quebec et l'organisation internationale de la francophonie conviennent d'intensifier leurs efforts pour la promotion de la diversite culturelle - quebec

Le 25 juin 2003 – 2003/06/25

At the close of the official visit to Québec by International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF) secretary-general Abdou Diouf, Québec premier Mr. Jean Charest and Mr. Diouf agreed to “step up their efforts in support of an international instrument on cultural diversity.” At the end of their discussion, the premier expressed his wish “that the Francophonie continue lobbying UNESCO to ensure the right of states and governments to support their cultures.” (Available in French only)

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Le président de l'assemblée nationale du québec s'entretient avec le secrétaire général de l'organisation internationale de la francophonie

Quebec, le 25 juin 2003 – 2003/06/25

During the meeting between the president of the National Assembly and the OIF secretary-general, who was on an official visit to Québec, Mr. Michel Bissonnet and Abdou Diouf also discussed the importance of implementing an international instrument to promote and protect cultural diversity as soon as possible. (Available in French only)

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Publications and Studies

Pour une convention internationale sur la diversité culturelle: comment lui donner les meilleures chances de succès ?

Jean musitelli  - Février 2003

In this study, Mr. Musitelli sets out a few useful lessons on how to conduct the negotiations on UNESCO’s international convention on cultural diversity and the pitfalls to avoid. In the wake of the debates at UNESCO, OIF, INCP, and other organizations, he asserts that “we possess a corpus of principles that constitute a foundation for a conceptual and operational definition of cultural diversity  on which we can build as we work to develop a binding legal instrument.” According to Mr. Musitelli, the objective today is clear: “It is a matter of endowing the principles already defined with international legal force.” He also notes that the work already done by experts has confirmed the feasibility of such an objective. Now that the challenge has clearly shifted to the political arena, Mr. Musitelli cautions cultural diversity promoters against the foreseeable obstacles they will face. In his opinion, these obstacles derive from the subject of negotiations, the position of member states, and the attitude of the UNESCO hierarchy. To this effect, he suggests that the “dynamics of negotiation should be allowed to take shape” because “the ultimate effectiveness of the convention is worth the price.” Mr. Musitelli also acknowledges that “the next round will be tough, but it is winnable if the alliance for cultural diversity has the political will, a consistent approach, and clear objectives. It is winnable especially if we can share the spirit that moves us. This is no rearguardaction to artificially protect threatened national or category-specific interests. It is the creation of a new legal regime that frees culture and cultural exchanges from their provisional and humiliating status as exceptions from the rules of trade and the reign of products and merchandise by recognizing the full legitimacy and sovereignty of culture and cultural exchange.” (Available in French only)

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Vers une stratégie transversale pour la promotion de la diversité culturelle. rapport d’experts et document de travail

Conseil de l’europe – cc-cult(2001)15

This report by the Council of Europe's Cultural Committee, an in-depth analysis of the perceived disparities between cultural policy measures and the rules on multilateral trade policy, aims to develop a strategy to help reconcile the issues of cultural diversity and international trade agreements, and specifically to raise awareness and shed light on cultural diversity and multilateral trade policy. Its main conclusions find that “the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) raises a whole series of questions and uncertainties related to the implementation of cultural policies and the elaboration of new cultural policy measures to deal with the development of the knowledge society and globalization. The fact that the current flexibility of GATS and the measures gradually introduced by the WTO in the sensitive areas of subsidies and domestic regulation has so far prevented any major complications in the field of cultural and audiovisual services is in no way—politically, or legally—a guarantee that the divergences between cultural policy and trade policy will not break down into a conflict.” The report also stresses the “importance of analyzing the different angles from which the issue of cultural diversity should be addressed to reveal its full implications at a time of accelerating globalization, and, if possible, of developing suggestions that may lead to concrete proposals,” notably in cooperation with the other appropriate organizations: UNESCO, the European Commission, WTO. (Available in French only)

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Pour une refondation du concept de diversité culturelle

François de Bernard – 17 mars 2003 – 2003/03/17

Faced with the increasing verbiage associated with cultural diversity, François de Bernard deems it “indispensable to remake cultural diversity into a concept, and to restore its rightful dignity and worth, resolutely anchored in its contemporary horizons.” The author defines cultural diversity with five words and maintains "that using these five points of reference, and the light that together they cast, a useful and relevant redefinition may emerge.” Thus, cultural diversity is in turn diverse, cultural, and dynamic. It is both a response and an enterprise. First, a theoretical enterprise, then a legal one. In this regard, the author notes that even though the idea of a “legal instrument” capable of representing  cultural diversity objectives in commercial and international legal negotiations was quick to emerge, it is much more a matter of remaking and consolidating the link between disciplinary approaches that have ignored each other or grown scattered, and of bringing them together to develop a general corpus of cultural diversity capable of meeting the demands of today’s multilateral diplomatic and trading scene. The author also declares that cultural diversity is a political enterprise. Affirming , among other things, that a “policy of cultural diversity” was improvised before its legal and philosophical foundations were even properly debated, the author wonders whether cultural diversity can “grow into the authentic political enterprise it cannot help being, in order to reaffirm and reiterate the irreducibility of the educational, linguistic, and cultural domain to realm of mere trading goods and impose a perennial exemption from the norms of commercial law—in short, in order to reply blow for blow to the strategy unlimited domination by ‘major’ private companies with a strategy for the unreserved domination of the general and public interest.” (Available in French and English only)

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Other News of Interest

"Desirability of drawing up an international standard-setting instrument on cultural diversity

The issue of the "Desirability of drawing up an international standard-setting instrument on cultural diversity” will be debated at the 32nd session of the UNESCO General Conference next October in Paris? This issue is point 5.11 on the agenda. You may consult the agenda and related documents at the following address:

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Le gouvernement du canada contribue à renforcer l'appui à l'échelle internationale en vue de l'adoption d'un instrument international sur la diversité culturelle

Dakar, le 20 juin 2003 – 2003/06/20

Hailing Canada’s attendance of the first meeting of ministers of culture from the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP) in Dakar, Senegal, from June 18 to 20, the minister of Canadian Heritage Ms Sheila Copps stated that “We are very happy to have been invited to discuss the international instrument on cultural diversity with ACP ministers. We are particularly encouraged by the fact that, in their action plan, the ministers committed to preparing ACP member states to participate in negotiations on the instrument.” (Available in French and English only)

Ministère du Patrimoine canadien

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Audition de m. dominique de villepin, ministre des affaires étrangères, sur les conclusions du conseil européen de thessalonique - commission des affaires étrangères

Compte rendu n° 60 - mardi 24 juin 2003 – 2003/06/24

Mr. de Villepin declared that “France has worked hard to end its relative isolation on the necessity of maintaining the specificity of cultural and audiovisual services in international trade negotiations, which means maintaining unanimity in this area. The government’s determination on this issue will not waver at the final sessions of the Convention and during the intergovernmental conference.” (Available in French only)

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Déclaration de dakar sur la promotion des cultures et des industries culturelles acp.

Dakar, le 20 juin 2003 – 2003/06/20

At the close of the first meeting of ministers of culture from African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP) held in Dakar, Senegal, from June 18 to 20, Senegalese minister of Culture and Communication Mr. Abdou Fall released the official declaration, in which ministers urge “ACP states to collaborate and cooperate with relevant international institutions in the debate and negotiations on the creation of an international instrument on cultural diversity aimed at ensuring cultural pluralism in the global arena, and providing the basic rules for the treatment of cultural goods and services in international trade agreements.” (Available in French and English only)

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Plan d’action de dakar pour la promotion des cultures et des industries culturelles acp

Dakar, le 20 juin 2003 – 2003/06/20

In the plan of action released after the meeting of ACP ministers of culture in Dakar, the ministers decided to engage in debates and negotiations on the adoption of an international instrument on cultural diversity, and to make culture a priority sector in the development strategies of ACP governments, in close collaboration with national and regional funding agencies. (Available in French and English only)

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Allocution de son excellence monsieur abdou diouf, secrétaire général de l’organisation internationale de la francophonie

Bruxelles, le 13 mars 2003 – 2003/03/13

In this speech to representatives of ACP member states, Mr. Diouf states that the Francophonie has joined with a number of other organizations to press UNESCO to adopt an international convention to promote cultural diversity worldwide. He emphasizes that “this approach in favor of cultural diversity seems even more necessary in the World Trade Organization and other organizations where international trade negotiations are held. Services, including cultural ones, are now frequently treated in such a way as to simply reduce them to the rank of goods to be traded. In this context, francophone states, like many others, feel that an innovative new type of international right is necessary to ensure the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity, a right that UNESCO has the duty to create, considering its mandate in the international system. According to Mr. Diouf, OIF and the ACP Group are in a good position for productive cooperation and joint action as the two organizations, at the instigation of their member states, now possess a framework of knowledge that will allow them to act to meet these challenges in their own spheres of action. (Available in French only)

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