Cultural diversity

Newsletter
The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 4, no 29, Monday, August 30, 2004

Response to the preliminary text of UNESCO’s Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expression

Preliminary draft of a convention on the protection of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions: The governments of Canada and Québec hold consultations with civil society

UNESCO adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity in November 2001. In doing so, the international community affirmed that respect for cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue is a key contributor to development and peace. In fall 2003, to address current threats to cultural diversity due to globalization, the 32nd UNESCO General Conference asked director-general Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura to present a draft convention by fall 2005 on protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural content and artistic expression. Such a convention would be a legally binding instrument that would create rights and responsibilities for all states and legitimize their right to conserve or develop national cultural policies to support the production and circulation of cultural content. Last month, Mr. Matsuura unveiled the first draft of the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expression. The document was released according to schedule and government members “may” adopt it at the General Conference in 2005.

In Canada, Canadian Heritage minister Liza Frulla and Québec minister of culture and communications Line Beauchamp have decided to seek civil society’s opinion on the draft convention in view of intergovernmental talks to be held at UNESCO starting September 20. Consultations will take place in Montreal on August 31, 2004. The ministers have invited media representatives to the press conference afterwards. This goal, which the Québec and Canadian governments have backed since 1999, is gaining support from a growing number of countries and numerous NGOs who have joined forces to advance the issue. Their efforts are reflected in events like the Second Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture of the Organization of American States (OAS) held in Mexico on August 23 and 24, 2004, and the meeting of the secretary generals of the Trois Espaces Linguistiques in Barcelona on August 23 as part of the Universal Forum of Cultures [69]

Documents to be consulted:

IN THIS ISSUE :

Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Publications and Studies

Other News of Interest



Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Cultural diversity with the OAS’ Second Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities – Mission Overview

Mme Line Beauchamp, ministre de la Culture et des Communications du Québec, Mexico le 24 août 2004 - 2004/08/24

Speaking at the OAS’ Second Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities in Mexico on August 23 and 24, Québec minister of culture and communications Line Beauchamp reiterated Québec’s stance on cultural diversity to her counterparts from the Americas, whom she called partners in the quest for cultural diversity. She stressed the fact that “both Québec and Canada, while remaining open to liberalizing trade, favor trade and distribution rules that take into account the special nature of cultural goods and services.” She also affirmed that cooperation between governments and civil society helps “guarantee the success not only of cultural policies, but also the work under way at UNESCO to draw up an international convention on cultural diversity.” For Québec, this convention “should define applicable law with respect to cultural diversity while stressing openness to other cultures and their cultural expressions, and create a body of law parallel, but not subject to international trade law, including an effective dispute resolution mechanism.”

Speaking on one of the three themes discussed at the meeting, namely culture as a force for social cohesion and in the fight against poverty, Ms Beauchamp also gave an overview of Québec’s experience in developing its cultural policy, one of whose thrusts is aimed at encouraging access to culture and public participation in cultural life. She declared that “it is essential to place our artists at the heart of our cultural policies, as artists are the driving force behind cultural production. We must therefore protect their rights and offer them the support they need to continue their creative endeavors.” According to her, this is why states must work together against piracy, as “states that wish to develop cultural policies will find it in their interest to fight piracy.” [69] (Available in French)

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Cultural diversity with the OAS’ Second Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities – Mission Overview

Cultural diversity with the OAS’ Second Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities – Mission Overview

Mme Liza Frulla, ministre du Patrimoine canadien, Ottawa, le 24 août 2004 - 2004/08/24

During bilateral meetings at the Second Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities of Americas, Canadian heritage minister Ms Liza Frulla engaged in meaningful dialogue with other ministers, notably representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Chili, Haiti, Mexico, and the U.S. She asserted that “cultural diversity is about affirming our right to foster and promote our artists, while balancing the need to be open to creative influences from around the world.” Summarizing the results obtained by the Canadian delegation, Ms Frulla added “it is essential that we continue pushing Canada's agenda on cultural diversity. Every nation has the right to promote the expression of their culture, at home and abroad.” This is why “the Government of Canada has clearly asserted its role as a leader in developing an international convention on cultural diversity” and intends to “continue to work with all its partners in the arts and culture sectors, as well as provincial and territorial governments, to continue and stimulate international dialogue in this regard.” [69] (Available in French and English)

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"Il est essentiel pour les Amériques de participer activement à l’élaboration de la Convention internationale sur la protection des contenus culturels et des expressions artistiques"

Mme Liza Frulla, ministre du Patrimoine canadien, Mexico, le 23 août 2004 - 2004/08/23

In her speech to colleagues at the Second Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities of Americas, Canadian heritage minister Ms Liza Frulla declared “it is essential for the Americas to participate actively in the development of the International Convention on the Protection of Cultural Content and Artistic Expression.” She called on her counterparts to “work together and seize every opportunity to promote the cultural, economic, and social interests of our populations.” She also stated “As representatives of our governments, we have a duty to act. Together, we must harness the wind of change brought by globalization to make culture an instrument to promote development, improve quality of life, and reinforce our identities.” For Ms Frulla, the convention must “set clear rules to ensure that trade in cultural goods and services takes place within a coherent framework” and “recognize that cultural goods and services are the reflection of the human spirit and the soul of our identities (and) are not just another kind of merchandise.” Stating that what is at stake with cultural diversity is “the richness of a diversified world. A world that is not standardized, nor uniform,” Ms Frulla declared in this respect that “it is urgent for us to take action today” and stated her desire to work with OAS “to achieve a still broader international consensus on this important Convention.” [69] (Available in French and English)

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Strong support Preliminary draft of a UNESCO’s convention on the cultural diversity: The Secretary generals of the Trois Espaces Linguistiques at the Universal Forum of Cultures of Barcelona – Declaration of Support

Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), Barcelone, le 23 août 2004 - 2004/08/23

The secretary generals of the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF), the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), the Latin Union, and the Arab League Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) met on August 23, 2004, at the Barcelona forum to discuss “Cultural Rights and Human Development”. They signed a declaration of support for UNESCO’s draft convention on cultural diversity and reached a common consensus in view of future talks on this convention, resolving to “continue working together on the stances our member states and governments wish to take during intergovernmental negotiations by experts on the draft convention,” and “do our utmost to harmonize the positions of our states and governments to ensure the draft convention that will be presented at UNESCO’s 33rd General Conference in November 2005 takes into account our values and goals with respect to cultural diversity.” The other geocultural regions from the European and Arab world represented at the meeting by various intergovernmental organizations backed this joint initiative. The three Spanish, French, and Portugese-speaking geocultural entities encompass 77 states and 3 governments and represent a population of 1.2 billion. [69] (Available in French)

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Cultural diversity with the OAS’ Second Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities – Declaration of Mexico

Organisation des États américains - Conseil interaméricain pour le développement intégré, Mexico, le 24 août 2004 - 2004/08/24

At the end of the sixth plenary session held in August 2004 as part of the OAS’ Second Inter-American Meeting at Mexico, ministers and senior government officials responsible for cultural policies and supporting cultural activities in the Americas adopted the Declaration of Mexico. In doing so, they affirmed that “cultural expressions are vectors of identity, value, and meaning, and that cultural diversity is essential in the promotion of economic growth with equity; and is an essential condition for social development and the fight against poverty, and a fundamental element of any conceptualization of democratic governance.” They reaffirmed “the Declaration of Cartagena de Indias, in particular that it is necessary to strengthen dialogue on cultural and linguistic diversity directed at recognition of and respect for diverse cultures…to encourage greater cooperation between governments, civil society and the private and voluntary sector in order to develop new and dynamic cultural policies and programs aimed at promoting the diversity of cultural expressions of the hemisphere, maximizing the benefits of globalization and mitigating its negative effects on the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity in the Americas.” In addition, stressing UNESCO’s efforts to support cultural diversity—notably the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and the resolution adopted by consensus at the UNESCO 32nd General Conference to develop a draft international convention on cultural diversity—they have resolved to promote regional dialogue on the matter. The declaration they adopted to this effect addresses the three main topics discussed at the meeting, with cultural diversity as their common thread: culture as an engine for economic growth, employment, and development; challenges faced by cultural and creative industries; and culture as a tool for inclusion, social cohesion, and the fight against poverty. The final declaration will be posted soon on the OAS Website, but the version of August 12 is already available. [69] (Available in French, English and Spanish)

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Cultural diversity with the OAS’ Second Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities – The Mexico Action Plan

Organisation des États américains – Conseil interaméricain pour le développement intégré, Mexico, le 24 août 2004 – 2004/08/24

At the same meeting, ministers and senior government officials responsible for cultural policies and supporting cultural activities in the Americas also approved the Mexico Action Plan, which takes stock of progress made in implementing the joint initiatives that were committed to in Cartagena de Indias, Columbia, in 2002, and recognizes the important role played by the Inter-American Committee on Culture (ICC) in following up these commitments. They also promised to put in place the following components of the action plan: eight-point national commitments, the Inter-American Committee on Culture responsible for overseeing the implementation of these commitments; the Technical Secretariat responsible for developing the first phase of the Observatory on Cultural Policies, and the international agencies charged with setting up cooperation strategies. The final action plan will be posted soon on the OAS Website, but the version of August 12 is already available. [69] (Available in French, English and Spanish)

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Cultural diversity with the OAS’ Second Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities – Civil Society’s Perspectives

Organisation des États américains - Conseil interaméricain pour le développement intégré, Mexico, le 24 août 2004 - 2004/08/24

The Civil Society Consultation Workshop hosted by OAS in Santiago, Chile on July 26 and 27, 2004, focused on The place of culture in the process of social development and economic integration in our hemisphere. During this meeting, representatives of civil society discussed and analyzed the three main themes of the Second Inter-American Meeting on August 23 and 24: culture as an engine for economic growth, employment, and development; the challenges faced by cultural and creative industries; and culture as a tool for social cohesion and the fight against poverty. They also reviewed the draft UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Content and Artistic Expression and proposed actions on all these issues to fuel discussions at the second ministerial meeting. A document presenting the conclusions of this workshop to the Second Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture is available on the OAS Website. [69] (Available in French, English and Spanish)

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Publications and Studies

Defending and preserving cultural diversity: “Affirming cultures and identities is everybody’s business”

Mme Liza Frulla, ministre du Patrimoine canadien, Mexico, le 23 août 2004 - 2004/08/23

As a participant in the Second Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities in Mexico City, Canadian Heritage minister Liza Frulla penned an article in Le Devoir asserting that “culture and identity are at the heart of today’s major debates.” According to the minister, “the issue is huge—it’s about participating in the move toward globalization while at the same time affirming our cultures, without which our identities would weaken and our world would become more and more uniform.” Consequently, she adds, each government must “encourage the expression of its culture and identity in the context of globalization.” In this regard, Ms Frulla stresses that apart from ministers of culture, nongovernmental organizations and cultural administrators have also helped lend greater resonance to efforts to defend the culture and identity of peoples. For example, Canada has come to be “an ardent defender of this cause” in the forums it enjoys access to through membership in the Commonwealth, the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF), and the Organization of American States (OAS). In addition, she asserts, “Since the third Summit of the Americas in Québec City in 2001, a consensus has emerged on the important issue of cultural sovereignty. […] Our heads of state clearly acknowledged that by respecting our respective cultures, we contribute to the economic and social vitality of our societies and to the promotion of fundamental principles such as good governance, social cohesion, human development and peace. […] We believe it is essential for the Americas and the Caribbean to take an active role in the UNESCO initiative to develop the International Convention on the Protection of Cultural Content and Artistic Expression.” According to Ms Frulla, not only must “the Convention set clear rules establishing a coherent environment for trade in cultural goods and services,” it must also “serve as an instrument to protect culture and identity in the digital age and promote fair remuneration for artists.” [69] (Available in French)

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"Violations of intellectual property rights or violations of cultural diversity? " - Strategy for the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in Third Countries

European Commission - Directorate General For Trade, Brussels, 23 June 2004 - 2004/06/23

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) lays down a series of provisions governing all aspects of intellectual property. An entire chapter of TRIPs is devoted to minimum standards of intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement to be adopted by WTO members, most of which have now adopted legislation implementing such standards. Despite the agreement, levels of piracy and counterfeiting continue to increase each year and have assumed industrial proportions because they offer considerable profits with often limited risk for perpetrators, who deprive right holders of proper compensation. Such is the situation described in this report by Mr. Paul Vandoren, Head of the IPR Unit of the European Commission Directorate General for Trade. His solution is a strategic plan aimed at strengthening these rights in developing countries. Mr. Vandoren’s strategy involves the cooperation of various Commission services, member states, and developing countries. It includes the development of concrete work methods and a description of tools available to the Commission. However,, the success of this plan depends on the unconditional support of the highest authorities, who must implement it. The plan is divided into eight priority areas: identification of priority countries; inclusion of  IPR mechanisms in multilateral, regional, and bilateral agreements; clarification of the importance of effective IP protection to trading partners; technical cooperation; dispute settlement mechanisms and sanctions; establishment of public-private partnerships to support creativity and innovation; awareness; and institutional cooperation. Observers maintain that “acknowledging and supporting intellectual property is powerful tool for advancing cultural diversity.” [69] (Available in English only)

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Other News of Interest

"Les médias et la garantie de la diversité culturelle en Europe": L’unité par la diversité

Mme Monika Griefahn, membre du Bundestag, présidente de la Commission de la culture et des médias, le jeudi 19 août 2004 - 2004/08/19

As part of its partnership with the 25th annual Summer University for Communication held August 23 to 26 in Hourtin, Gironde, France, Libération published an article by Ms Monika Griefahn asserting that “it is through the media that Europe will build its identity and cultural uniqueness.” Ms Griefahn stresses that “guaranteeing cultural diversity in Europe (and elsewhere) is increasingly urgent. Negotiations on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) have shown that cultural services and media products are by no means simple trade goods. Although negotiable, they are not ordinary consumer products. UNESCO has also worked to protect cultural diversity in the world. The idea that cultural and artistic products and services hold the economic potential of the future is gaining ground. It is thus clear that cultural diversity in Europe must be guaranteed. And because diversity derives from the territory where it is born, culture and geography are closely bound. The same is true of the media.” According to Ms Griefahn, the Television Without Frontiers directive in effect in the European Union is too restrictive to support true freedom in European media. Yet this is exactly what the EU needs, she explains. For Ms Griefahn, “the media has the leading role in European integration. And it can play this role credibly only if it can draw on the cultural diversity of Europe and its geographical components.” She maintains that media diversity is akin to cultural diversity and therefore fundamental. Citing the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, she states that “the Commission must guarantee freedom of information and pluralism in European media. We must take urgent action to prevent the ‘mcdonaldization’ of European media—which is why strong public media is essential on the continent. The media can only fulfill its educational and cultural mission—and thereby guarantee diversity—if it is sheltered from competition,” she stresses. And to ensure true freedom of the media beyond borders, a new legal framework must be developed. Ms Griefahn believes this will require that “we make sure that media consolidation and mergers do not impair pluralism and cultural diversity. In this regard, the Commission must update the Green Paper on Convergence, as requested by the European Parliament, because some countries are already granting exclusive access and use rights, generating inequality among the public.” [69] (Available in French)

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