Cultural diversity

The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 4, no 43, Monday, December 6, 2004

Mobilization and awareness push continues for UNESCO adoption of a convention on cultural diversity


The 10th Summit of heads of state and government of countries using French as a common language was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from November 26-27, 2004. This edition of our Bulletin is devoted exclusively to this event, due to the awareness-raising of the Summit of the challenges of cultural diversity, the significant mobilization it evoked, and the commitment of its various players in supporting the draft UNESCO convention on the diversity of cultural expressions. The following items will enable the reader to stay up to date on the latest developments regarding this issue and directly access speeches, declarations and other relevant documents through the numerous reference Internet links.


Mobilization and awareness push continues for UNESCO adoption of a convention on cultural diversity

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Current UNESCO negotiations on adopting a convention on the protection of the diversity of cultural content and artistic expressions. This is the theme of the conference given by Ivan Bernier on November 29 in Mexico during the Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL), which took place from November 27 to December 5, 2004 at Expo Guadalajara. The conference took place in the context of an international symposium on cultural studies, an event that is also part of the FIL. Mr. Ivan Bernier is an emeritus professor at Université Laval Faculty of Law in Québec, Canada. A specialist on cultural diversity issues, he was part of a group of independant experts invited by the Director-General of UNESCO who drew up the preliminary draft Convention on the Protection of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions .


Representatives from cultural professional organizations from 18 francophone countries, who met from November 21-23, 2004 in Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso on the sidelines of the 10th Summit of La Francophonie, proposed setting up a network of African national coalitions for cultural diversity. Senegal was chosen to hold the presidency of this new structure. To this end, film director Cheikh Ngaïdo Bâ, a member of the Executive Office of the Senegalese Coalition for Cultural Diversity, stated, "Our role is to encourage the creation of other coalitions throughout the continent by bringing together subregional groups like ECOWAS and regional ones such as the African Union." This is all due to intense lobbying aimed at the adoption by the UNESCO's Convention on the Protection of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions . The Convention is to be adopted in October 2005 during UNESCO's 33rd General Conference.


The European Commission published the Comments by the European Community and its Member States on the UNESCO's preliminary draft Convention on the Protection of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions . The Communication of the EC and its Member States was sent to the UNESCO Secretariat on N ovember 15 by the Dutch presidency.


Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Recent Publications

Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Xe Sommet de la Francophonie : « Mobilisation de tous les membres de la Francophonie pour assurer l'adoption de la Convention sur la diversité culturelle à l'UNESCO en 2005 »

M. Jean Charest, Premier ministre du Québec, Ouagadougou, le 27 novembre 2004 - 2004/11/27

The press release published following the 10 th Summit of La Francophonie , which took place from November 26 to November 27 in Ouagadougou , Burkina Faso , describes the closed-door policy that brought together heads of state and government members of La Francophonie. According to an observer, during this meeting, Quebec Prime Minister Jean Charest praised the importance given to the issue of cultural diversity at the Summit. He also warned of the consequences of the predominance of WTO regulations on the convention to be adopted by UNESCO in the fall of 2004 and particularly stressed the limitations of dispute settlement process that requires both parties' consent to get under way. To this end, Charest insisted on the need to mobilize all members of La Francophonie to ensure the adoption of Convention on cultural diversity with UNESCO in 2005 ,  as he stated, "It is important that we all make the effort so we don't miss this important deadline."

The Prime Minister was also very pleased with the adoption of a decennial strategic framework, which will allow the International Organization of La Francophonie "to better channel its energies towards the sectors where it excels." In particular, he officially announced that heads of state and government attending the 10 th Summit have decided that Quebec City will host the 12th Summit of La Francophonie in 2008, as part of the 400th anniversary of its founding. ( Available in French )

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Xe Sommet de la Francophonie : « Le Canada appuie l'élaboration d'une Convention qui réaffirme le droit des États d'adopter leurs propres politiques culturelles »

Mme Liza Frulla, ministre du Patrimoine canadien, le 27 novembre 2004 - 2004/11/27

This statement by Liza Frulla, Minister of Canadian Heritage, stresses that during the 10th Summit of La Francophonie, held November 26 and 27, 2004, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, members of the International Organization of La Francophonie reiterated their support for UNESCO, which has been mandated to draft an International Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions. To this end, the Minister stated, «Canada supports the development of a Convention that re-affirms the right of states to adopt their own cultural policies. Canada wants the Convention to recognize that cultural goods and services have not only an economic but a social value». In particular, Frulla states that t he conclusions of the 10th Summit of La Francophonie also «reinforce the international consensus on the importance of cultural exchanges. Culture expresses the identity of a people; it is a treasure of humanity. It must not be treated as a mere commodity (.) Like other members of La Francophonie participating in the Summit , we recognize that cultural and linguistic diversity supports sustainable development».

Citing the Human Development Report 2004 , published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Frulla emphasizes that a framework is needed for trade in cultural goods so that it promotes diversity of viewpoints and choices in the global cultural marketplace, and enables every country to express itself, and that on this issue the Canadian position is clear : « We want to establish conditions favouring creativity and to offer the entire world our best. In return, we want to have access to the best of what the world has to offer. That is why we are participating with great interest in the drafting of the UNESCO Convention. We recognize its importance for the future of humanity and we want it to be considered on the same level as other agreements, while maintaining all of Canada's rights and obligations within various international bodies».

Frulla also states, «Quebec has been a partner on this issue from the outset. In addition, Canada has consulted all of its other provincial and territorial partners (.) as well as civil society, which has an active part to play in developing the Convention. Following these consultations, on November 19 Canada presented comments to UNESCO on the preliminary draft Convention». In particular, she maintains, «The Government of Canada will continue to work closely with its national and international partners toward a strong and effective Convention». ( Available also in French and English )

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Xe Sommet de la Francophonie : « La Francophonie doit jouer un rôle moteur pour l'adoption par l'UNESCO d'une convention internationale pour la protection de la diversité culturelle »

Xe Sommet de la Francophonie : « La Francophonie doit jouer un rôle moteur pour l'adoption par l'UNESCO d'une convention internationale pour la protection de la diversité culturelle »

M. Paul Martin, Premier ministre du Canada, Ouagadougou, le 26 novembre 2004 - 2004/11/26

In his speech at the opening of the 10th Summit of La Francophonie, Prime Minister of Canada Paul Martin , stressed the importance of francophone mobilization towards the adoption by the UNESCO's Convention on the Protection of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions . To this end, he stated that the Francophonie had made significant progress. « There was also the confirmation, at the Beirut Summit, of La Francophonie's role as a driving force behind UNESCO's plans to adopt an international convention for the protection of cultural diversity. Just recently, Canada officially submitted its comments on the draft convention, and we in La Francophonie should congratulate ourselves for our unified and outstanding efforts on this project of fundamental importance.» He took the opportunity to encourage countries to forward their comments to UNESCO as soon as possible.

According to Martin, "La Francophonie finds itself at a crossroads ", and " At a time when a wave of reform is sweeping the multilateral world, starting with the United Nations, our Community must stake out its position as a globally important political forum." He is also «convinced that Ouagadougou will be the Summit of maturity, consolidation and sustainable development. But it will also be a summit of truth and a test of La Francophonie's leadership. We are an important actor on the international scene. We must give ourselves the tools we need to act. » In this regard, he stated, La Francophonie has worked very hard to get where it is today, but it must define its priorities better, specify where it wants to be visible, become more effective and, on a more basic level, target its vision and actions. As a meaningful international organization, it must be in tune with its sister organizations and have the courage of its convictions. These principles, translated into specific tasks, which include promoting cultural diversity, underpin the strategic framework that La Francophonie will adopt during the Summit. (Available also in French and English)

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Xe Sommet de la Francophonie : « La Francophonie unie et déterminée pour faire adopter la convention sur la diversité culturelle à l'UNESCO l'année prochaine »

M. Jacques Chirac, président de la République française, Ouagadougou, le 26 novembre 2004 - 2004/11/26

In his speech during the opening ceremony of the 10th Summit of La Francophonie, Mr. Jacques Chirac stated, "Cultural diversity, which our family (OIF) has made its standard, must be recognized as the fourth pillar of sustainable development. Next year's adoption of the Convention on Cultural Diversity is possible, so long as we remain united and determined. It will signify a decisive step in creating a new international order founded on solidarity and respect for one another."

In a message for the magazine Arabies at the time of the Summit, Chirac stated, "Equipped for the first time with a decennial strategic framework, La Francophonie will show its maturity. This framework will express a shared vision and ambition for a Francophonie that is confident in its identity, open to the diversity of peoples, languages and cultures, and ready to fully play its role in the great debates of our time. A Francophonie serving its members with a vision of the world based on solidarity and respect. Solidarity born from a shared language and culture. Respect for diversity, which has become the standard of our fight. A political Francophonie serving our common values: peace, democracy and the respect for human rights. He believes this decennial strategic framework will give La Francophonie the means to overcome challenges, provide direction of the actions of its operators and increase the credibility of projects presented to international lenders. For Mr. Chirac, La Francophonie is a unique forum for discussion and collaboration on the major issues facing today's world. Thus, sustainable development is naturally central to its cause.

Cultural diversity is one of the issues of sustainable development over which La Francophonie began taking action several years ago. Chirac stated, "It has demonstrated its strength and commitment in the fight for the recognition of a new right of cultural diversity. I am thrilled with the progress that has been made regarding this crucial issue at UNESCO since Beirut." He maintained, "We can, and we must, go further together towards humanizing and controlling globalization." He believes that 2005 will be a "decisive" year. "We hope to conclude negotiations for a new Convention on Cultural Diversity at UNESCO and in December of next year, the WTO will meet in Hong Kong for the final phase of the Doha Round." ( Available in French )

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Xe Conférence des chefs d'État et de gouvernement des pays ayant le français en partage : Déclaration de Ouagadougou et Cadre stratégique décennal de la Francophonie - Ouagadougou, Burkina-Faso, 26-27 novembre 2004

Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), 27 novembre 2004 - 2004/11/27

The 10th Sommit of La Francophonie has adopted the « Déclaration de Ouagadougou », which reaffirms the major priorities of La Francophonie, "a unified community for sustainable development." In the declaration, heads of state and government of La Francophonie state that sustainable development rests on five pillars: "Controlled and sound management of natural resources; inclusive and continuous economic progress; equitable social development calling for tolerance and based on education and training; democratic guarantees and rule of law for all citizens, and an openness to cultural and linguistic diversity."

The complete respect for and promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity constitutes one of the pillars of sustainable development in that it encourages populations to acquire knowledge and models of development that are respectful of cultures. To this end, heads of state and government declare:

  • We reiterate our desire to prevent cultural goods and services from being reduced to mere merchandise. We also resolve to continue to support the drafting at UNESCO of a International Convention on the protection of cultural contents and artistic expressions , for its adoption since 2005, its speedy ratification and effective implementation. We will take active steps to ensure that it recognizes the right of states and governments to adopt measures aimed at preserving and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions in their land. This convention must also stress an openness to other cultures and expressions.
  • We believe that in the current climate, the safeguarding of cultural diversity implies refraining from any liberalization commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding cultural goods and services to avoid compromising the effectiveness of measures aimed at promoting and supporting cultural diversity. We undertake to respect these same principles in bilateral and regional contexts.
  • Moreover, we intend to enhance the status of the role of creators in the dialogue on cultures and continue to support the production of cultural works in least developed countries and their distribution within francophone communities and throughout the world. We recognize the need for increased cooperation and new partnerships, particularly within La Francophonie, for the emergence of viable cultural industries in least developed countries, and the importance of facilitating the free movement of works and artists in francophone communities.

This declaration is accompanied by a Resolution concerning aid to least developed countries (LDC) in the sector of cultural diversity. In addition, the Cadre stratégique décennal (2005-2014) of La Francophonie underscores the pioneer role played by La Francophonie in recognizing cultural diversity and the dialogue of cultures and, in particular, acknowledges that it needs to acquire the necessary means to face the uniformizing tendencies of globalization and promote the safeguarding and development of cultural diversity. Thus, in order to preserve and promote cultural diversity, La Francophonie's programs and actions must aim to:

  • Increase the awareness of countries of the need to adopt national cultural policies and help them formulate them;
  • Accompany and support national and local production and the integration of cultural products, particularly audiovisual products, in distribution and marketing networks;
  • Continue mobilizing countries to promote the adoption at l'UNESCO and implementation of a convention effectively ensuring the protection of cultural contents and artistic expressions;
  • Promote cultural diversity and linguistic plurality in the use of information technology and actively participate in building an equitable information society that takes into account digital solidarity;
  • Increase cooperation with other partner linguistic regions. (Available in French)

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Xe Sommet de la Francophonie : Réunion des organisations professionnelles de la culture de l'espace francophone - Déclaration de Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso

Coalition française pour la diversité culturelle, Ouahigouya, le 23 novembre 2004 - 2004/11/23

On the sidelines of the 10th Summit of heads of state and government of la Francophonie, the International Liaison Committee of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (ILC-CCD ) organized a meeting for the cultural professional organizations from member countries of La Francophonie in Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso from November 21-23, 2004, to protect and promote cultural diversity. In this declaration, representatives of the cultural professional organizations from the 18 member countries of La Francophonie in attendance unanimously reaffirmed the following principles: Cultural goods and services are vehicles of a people's identity and therefore cannot be put in the same category as mere merchandise; Access to a diversified selection of national cultural content and that of any region of the world is a fundamental right for every citizen; Only the implementation of true national cultural policies will enable the development of cultural production in every country and make such a diverse selection possible.

As a result, they are urge member states of La Francophonie to reaffirm their sovereign right to carry out cultural policies to ensure the development of cultures in all countries. To accomplish this, they must: continue to work with the same determination towards the adoption of the Convention on the protection of cultural contents and artistic expressions during the 33rd General Conference of UNESCO; refrain from making any liberalization commitment related to culture in the framework of trade negotiations between now and the adoption of said Convention. In addition, meeting participants undertake to promote the adoption of la Convention de l'UNESCO through their organizations and coalitions on the national and international levels.

They have published their principal remarks concerning the preliminary draft convention , and the conclusions of their work were presented at the Ministerial Conference of La Francophonie, held on November 24, 2004 in Ouagadougou . ( Available in French )

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Recent Publications

La diversité culturelle : enjeu politique majeur pour le pluralisme, pour la démocratie, pour la liberté

M. Abdou Diouf, Secrétaire général de l'Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), 29 novembre 2004 - 2004/11/29

This press release by Abdou Diouf was made public at the end of the 10th Summit of La Francophonie. In it, he maintains that La Francophonie is not only about the protection of the French language, but it is through La Francophonie, through its protection and promotion, its commitment to support linguistic diversity, and beyond that, cultural diversity and the dialogue of cultures. In fact, he states, "As a laboratory for cultural diversity due to its mission and geographic and economic composition, and strengthened by its own particular experience in working for development, La Francophonie has structured and reinforced its actions to promote cultural diversity. These actions have enabled advances in creating an international regulatory framework promoting the development of cultural policies and the growth of cultural industries. They have helped deepen international reflection on the dialogue of cultures." In this regard, Diouf stresses, cultural diversity has become a major political issue for pluralism, democracy and liberty. "We do not want a uniform world. We want a united world that is rich in its differences. A world in which the dialogue of cultures is a reality. If cultural goods and services were subjected to the laws of the market without any safeguards, then cultural diversity and, at the same time, linguistic diversity would be threatened." Moreover, guaranteeing cultural diversity to promote the dialogue of civilizations has been one of the major focuses of action on the part of the OIF and its operators since the strong movement during the Beruit Summit of 2002 to draft and approve the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity of December 2, 2001, and to pursue the process of adopting this regulatory legal instrument between now and 2005.

However, for Diouf, adopting this convention will not be sufficient if it is not backed up with voluntary policies by countries and local communities to support creators and encourage the emergence or reinforcement of strong cultural industries, to implement sustainable national cultural policies. He states that La Francophonie also has a concrete role to play in this sector, which includes organizing solidarity-building opportunities among creators, facilitating access to financing for artists, and encouraging the promotion and distribution of artistic and cultural works. The goal of cultural diversity has led La Francophonie to develop a partnership with other linguistic regions, particularly the Organization of Iberian Americans, the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries and the Latin Union. Diouf also stresses that it was out of concern for cultural diversity that La Francophonie developed contacts with representatives of civil society, unions, and non-governmental organizations, particularly through the International Network on Cultural Diversity (INCD).

However, he warns that these efforts will not be sufficient to further the cause of peace in the francophone community and around the world if they are not supported by fundamental action in education and development. In the sector of sustainable development and solidarity, as in the educational sector, he states, states play a vital role. "Without a structured state or an efficient and honest administration, if there is a lack of trust between public decision-makers and investors, development is not possible. The francophone community must be a place of increased solidarity between rich and poor states." He stresses that the development for which La Francophonie is mobilizing its forces, "is, of course, sustainable development, which is respectful of the planet Earth, careful to avoid wasting natural resources and endangering the lives of generations to come. Facilitating exchanges among states, giving francophone countries in the a stronger voice in international negotiations that concern them, organizing meetings and promoting solidarity within the francophone community on these essential issues are most certainly among the tasks our organization must devote even more attention and effort to in the future. La Francophonie is not opposed to the globalization currently underway, which has many positive aspects. However, it would like an organized globalization. A globalization tempered by the spirit of solidarity, with rules it intends to help establish." ( Available in French)

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