Cultural diversity

The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 3, no 19, Monday, June 23, 2003

The first meeting of ministers of culture of African, Caribbean, and Pacific Island countries (ACP)

Last week, the first meeting of ministers of culture of African, Caribbean, and Pacific Island countries (ACP) was held in Dakar, Senegal, in partnership with the European Commission, UNESCO, and ILO (International Labour Office). Delegations from sixty-five countries took part in the event, including some fifty led by their ministers of culture. The June 20 ministerial meeting was preceded by a meeting of experts. Three key themes were addressed, including promoting cultural diversity and protecting cultural heritage. Below you’ll find the various press releases and dispatches issued on these topics. We’ll take another look at this event next week, including the declaration and action plan.


Publications and Studies

Other News of Interest

Publications and Studies

Le débat politique et juridique sur la diversité culturelle

Debora abramowicz , 4 juin 2003 – 2003/06/04

Ms Abramowicz, director of international affairs at SACD (Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques), maintains that promoting cultural diversity depends on recognizing states’ ability to determine their own cultural policies. Acknowledging that cultural diversity cannot be achieved through the mere play of market forces, the author believes it is necessary “to recognize in a binding international instrument the right of states to freely determine their cultural policies.” The author stresses in particular the need for cultural issues to be negotiated in a forum that not only specializes in protecting heritage and culture, but also gives the voice of each member state equal weight. According to Ms Abramowicz, “negotiations on the future International Convention on Cultural Diversity must begin immediately within UNESCO and be held at the same time as WTO negotiations so that cultural issues are clearly identified as being under the jurisdiction of the former and not the latter. In addition, starting negotiations within UNESCO will allow states to gauge the challenges of cultural diversity and make them more aware of the liberalization agreements they may be called upon to sign in the WTO.” (Available in French only)

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Politiques d'intégration régionale et conflits entre modèles économiques et désir de diversité culturelle en afrique de l'ouest

Abdoulaye elimane kane. 6 juin 2003 – 2003/06/06

In this study, Mr. Kane points out that although agreements and treaties signed by western African countries in the interest of integration show they are lagging behind in their awareness of cultural policies and their willingness to contribute solutions through subregional cooperation. However, signatory states have used additional protocols to stress a number of relevant provisions to highlight the role of culture, human resources, and the participation of African peoples in development. It is “as if African leaders have finally come to realize that economic solutions are necessary but are not enough by themselves. They may even be impossible unless a number of cultural factors are taken into account.” He also maintains that "the place and role of culture in the imagination, thought, and way of life of African communities, together with effective decentralization, should give cultural policies another chance in a polycentric world” as “tools to regulate unifying trends and necessary diversity at the local and global levels.” (Available in French only)

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Other News of Interest

Diversité culturelle, mondialisations et globalisation - Discours de Jack Ralite

Jack Ralite Animateur des états généraux de la culture, en ouverture de "l'université des mondialisation" organisée au parc de la villette par le groupe d'études et de recherches sur les mondialisations

4 juin 2003 – 2003/06/04

In this speech, Mr. Ralite stresses the challenges of cultural diversity. Despite the mobilization in Europe that has reaffirmed its commitment to cultural diversity, the author states that “while it is desirable and necessary for cultural diversity to be enshrined in the future constitution, it will not be effective without concrete measures.” The reason for this, he acknowledges, is that “the United States, which has a significant financial interest in the new European Community member states, particularly in the audiovisual sector, is exerting pressure to keep ‘cultural diversity’ a mere concept.” Mr. Ralite warns that the most serious consequence of this would be a radical reexamining of national cultural policies with regard to the most-favored nation clause and the principles of national treatment and free market access. “To end the worldwide debate in which culture is affected by liberalization agreements,” he calls for a challenge to the religion of the economy and cautions against the American trade offer in which the United States “completely reclassifies the audiovisual sector by creating a veritable partition with new sectors such as ‘other communication services’ and ‘recreational sectors.’” The author considers this an “internal erosion of ‘cultural exemption.’” Last, he stresses that this is the creative application of the principle dear to Mr. Valenti, i.e., minimal regulation for old situations and no regulation at all for new ones. For example, a film broadcast over the Internet is no longer a service, so the claim of “cultural exemption” no longer applies. It becomes instead a virtual good that can be liberalized. (Available in French only)

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Australia's media fears free trade - The Australian film and television industry is dominating a free-trade agreement being struck between the us and australia. by christian mahne

Sydney-Australia,  12 june 16, 2003 – 2003/06/12

This article reports on the Australian Film Commission’s apprehensions regarding negotiations on a free trade agreement between the United States and Australia. As Australia moves toward a multichannel digital broadcast environment, Australian cultural industries fear a tidal wave of cheap imported television content if the free trade agreement restricts or weakens Australia’s system for supporting culture through quotas and subsidies. Australia’s loss of control over its cultural industries would jeopardize the Australian film industry. (Available in English only)

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"En matière culturelle, l'unanimité empêche d'agir" - Entretien avec le commissaire européen chargé du commerce extérieur

M. Pascal Lamy - Bruxelles, 19 juin 2003 – 2003/06/19 

In contrast to the French government, which defends the unanimity rule in negotiations on cultural and audiovisual services, Mr. Lamy states that the draft European Union Constitution proposes a happy medium by affirming that cultural diversity must be defended and that to implement it we must move from unanimity to a qualified majority. He further maintains that “as of now, unanimity prevents, while majority permits.” Thus, “in foreign policy matters, there will be times when we will have to take action to promote cultural diversity. Insisting on unanimity risks creating obstacles.” He also asserts that “the fight for cultural diversity must shift from a defensive battle to an offensive battle.” (Available in French only)

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Première réunion des ministres acp de la culture : "éviter les mesures cosmétiques"

Dakar, 18 juin 2003 – 2003/06/18

In this interview by Agence France-Presse, Mr. Jean-Robert Goulongana, Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP) justifies the first meeting of ministers of culture: “We have become aware that culture is an important part of sustainable development in our countries. Culture is also an area in which we have know-how and a competitive advantage. The ministers of culture must therefore meet to share their views on these issues. Another factor that justifies this meeting is that we believe cultural cooperation between ACP countries can be developed. And last, culture is a key issue in current WTO trade negotiations between ACP countries and the European Union. These negotiations address cultural concerns, so cultural leaders should be able to voice their opinion on how negotiations would be best approached.” (Available in French only)

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Pour une convention internationale sur la diversité culturelle

Dakar, 20 juin 2003 – 2003/06/20

At the opening of the first meeting of ACP ministers of culture on June 20, Senegalese Prime Minister Idrissa Seck stated, "We must pay careful attention to the fight led by UNESCO, the Francophonie, and the International Network on Cultural Policy to adopt an international convention on cultural diversity.” He also asks that this ministerial meeting “focus on strategies that combine the realization of our economic potential with respect for our cultural heritage through the development of cultural industries.” (Available in French only)

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États acp et diversité culturelle - professionnalisation des acteurs et developpement des industries culturelles

Edition du mardi 17 juin 2003

During the first meeting of ACP ministers of culture on June 18 and 19 in Dakar, a professional training and planning workshop for establishing new cultural strategy policies in Africa brought Senegalese cultural players and promoters together with representatives from UNESCO, ILO, Agence intergouvernementale de la Francophonie, and France’s cultural diversity advisory committee to discuss the development of cultural industries, the promotion of cultural diversity, and networking at a time when the adoption of an international convention on cultural diversity is being discussed in UNESCO. (Available in French only)

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Les experts des pays acp en réunion à dakar, avant les ministres de la culture

Dakar, le 18 juin 2003

As a prelude to the first meeting of ACP ministers of culture, nearly 70 experts from ACP countries met on June 18 and 19 in Dakar to study ways to establish an ACP cultural foundation and organize an ACP cultural festival. Senegalese minister of culture Abdou Fall urged the experts to “take a critical and objective look at promoting cultural diversity, safeguarding cultural assets, and developing cultural industries.” Mr. Fall noted that this meeting “also aims to lay the foundation for intra-ACP cultural cooperation.” (Available in French only)

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[Translate to Anglais:] Séminaire d'information des journalistes culturels sur la réunion des ministres acp

Dakar, 6 juin 2003

An information seminar for cultural journalists during the first meeting of ACP ministers of culture was led by Senegalese minister of culture Abdou Fall at the Regional Office for Education in Africa (BREDA) in Dakar to inform journalists about the program, themes, and challenges of this meeting and “ensure good coverage of this landmark event.” (Available in French only)

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