Cultural diversity

Newsletter
The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 4, no 25, Monday, July 19, 2004

The recent free trade agreements of the United States as illustration of their new strategy regarding the audiovisual sector

The recent free trade agreements of the United States as illustration of their new strategy regarding the audiovisual sector. Professor Ivan Bernier turns the spotlight on this topic in our April–June 2004 Cultural Diversity Update, currently available in French and English on our Website. The Spanish version will be added shortly. [65]

IN THIS ISSUE :

Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Other News of Interest



Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Rapport sur les développements à l’UNESCO

Garry Neil, Coordonnateur du RIDC, juillet 2004 - 2004/07/19

The July 2004 newsletter (Vol. 5, No. 7) of The International Network for Cultural Diversity (INCD)
includes a report by INCD coordinator Garry Neil on the latest developments at UNESCO concerning the draft Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Cultural Content and Artistic Expression. Mr. Neil notes that in June 2004, UNESCO distributed to other UN agencies a preliminary text on the Convention produced at the third and final meeting of the Committee of Experts. The text apparently underwent several revisions following comments by these agencies, and UNESCO’s initial final draft will be published on July 12, 2004. It will be presented to governments for discussion and negotiation at an initial intergovernmental meeting in Paris from September 20 to 25, 2004. The UN-accredited NGO coordinating committee will call for comments on this preliminary text and convene its own meeting on September 15 and 16, 2004, also in Paris.
INCD has adopted the following strategy with regard to the text: The steering committee will prepare a policy statement and factsheet for distribution to all UNESCO delegations and NGOs; for countries with INCD members, the accompanying letter will be signed by the Secretariat and all members; at the same time, INCD will urge all delegations to support the draft Convention and join it in ensuring that the Convention respects the established objectives.
Mr. Neil also reviews the Convention’s key objectives from a civil society perspective: It must protect the sovereign right of member states to support their own artists, producers, and cultural institutions and therefore have the same status as trade agreements; it must encourage the development of cultural resources and innovative cultural industries within states that have significant artistic traditions and cultural expressions but lack the means to make their history, music, and artistic creations available to a wider audience under current cultural industry canons; it must also include specific measures to encourage a more balanced exchange between cultures. In closing, Mr. Neil invites all members to immediately review the preliminary texts and INCD documents to be sent by the end of the month. [65]
For a copy of the newsletter, email INCD at incd@ccarts.ca or visit its Website at www.incd.net.

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Bewahrung der kulturellen Vielfalt: Ein ethischer Imperativ in Zeiten der Globalisierung - "Promouvoir la diversité culturelle: Un impératif moral à l’ère de la mondialisation"

M. Claude Trudelle, Bureau du Québec à Munich/Vertretung der Regierung von Québec in München, le 23 juin 2004 - 2004/06/23

In this speech on cultural diversity delivered on June 23, 2004, at Ludwig-Maximilian Universität in Munich, Claude Trudelle, Cooperation and Public Affairs Advisor (Berater für Kooperation und öffentliche Angelegenheiten) at the Québec Office in Munich, Germany, explained the problems and challenges of UNESCO negotiations on a draft Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Cultural Content and Artistic Expression to a German audience of some thirty students and professors largely unfamiliar with the question.
After reviewing key debates on the issue in the main international forums, particularly UNESCO, Mr. Trudelle discussed the Government of Québec’s official position and commitments in this area. He then examined current work at UNESCO that will culminate in the adoption of the Convention in fall 2005. He also noted the Government of Québec’s efforts to support UNESCO’s work. He argued that the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Cultural Content and Artistic Expression would not be possible unless three conditions were met: A majority of countries must actively support the Convention; states must refrain from liberalizing trade in cultural and audiovisual services and ensure that no international trade liberalization provisions jeopardize their ability to support and promote culture through viable cultural policies; and finally, governments must have strong support from civil society.
Mr. Trudelle illustrated his talk with several eloquent German examples, including Good Bye Lenin, a film subsidized by two Länder (NRW and Bavaria). Following the presentation, one of the event’s co-organizers declared that cultural diversity was important and that he appreciated Québec’s efforts to promote it in Germany. [65] (Available in German only)

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Rapport mondial sur le développement humain 2004 du PNUD

M. Koïchiro Matsuura, Directeur général de l’UNESCO, le 16 juillet 2004 - 2004/07/16

At the presentation of the 2004 World Human Development Report published by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), UNESCO director general Koïchiro Matsuura stressed that cultural freedom and diversity are intrinsically bound: “Cultural freedom depends on the widest possible selection of cultural expressions, and therefore diversity. Neither is an end in and of itself: Diversity has value only when it promotes cultural freedom and enriches people’s lives; similarly, cultural freedom has value only when it supports true cultural plurality.” He noted that “our work on the Convention and the Report presented to us today share certain similarities, complementary approaches, and a shared concern with finding appropriate answers. I was especially interested in the links the Report identifies between cultural freedom and cultural diversity. While the Report specifies that preserving cultural freedom does not automatically promote diversity, it affirms the need to promote the diversity of cultural practices, as this is the basis for cultural freedom.” According to Mr. Matsuura, the UNDP Report makes the same observation regarding cultural freedom as the UNESCO Convention on cultural diversity, i.e., that “globalization, a process facilitated by rapid developments in information and communication technologies, is a challenge for both. While, as the Report indicates, this process allows unprecedented freedom in the exchange of ideas and values, which has never been so intense, it also carries risks, in that international trade and means of communication may exclude, destabilize, and fragment entire areas of the world, societies and cultures made more vulnerable by this unprecedented circulation of cultural goods and services.” In addition, he noted, the UNDP Report identifies risks to both cultural freedom and diversity, including increased imbalances due to international trade in cultural products, the dispossession of native peoples whose know-how is not protected, and disregard for cultural rights in a world of increasing migration.
Mr. Matsuura took advantage of the Report launch to review the mandate UNESCO member states had given the organization to develop an international Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Content and Artistic Expression. He indicated that he had just sent all member states a preliminary draft of the Convention. In Mr. Matsuura’s eyes, the draft “identifies a framework for international action to preserve the diversity of cultural expression within and between societies as a source of creativity and a factor of social cohesion and economic development. But it also takes up the challenge of cultural pluralism, where each culture and each creator can find a place, and all people can exercise their cultural freedom in every sense of the term. It addresses the urgency of establishing a framework of international rules identifying the rights and obligations of states in order to promote the ability to create, produce, distribute, and promote cultural expression nationally and internationally.” In his view, “the challenge we face is to ensure fair access by each culture to the most varied means of expression while opening each culture to others so that each country, each group—especially native peoples—and each person can participate in the cultural and economic development generated by cultural expression, as well as by the goods and services that are its main conveyors. If we succeed in adopting this Convention, as I would like, we will have completed the standard-setting work UNESCO has been tackling for years, and we may consider that we have succeeded in establishing a complete mechanism for preserving cultural diversity.” [65] (Available in French)

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Other News of Interest

APEC seeks to speed free trade negotiations

At the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in Pucon, Chile, on June 4 and 5, 2004, trade ministers and representatives from the 21 APEC member countries discussed ways to revive stalled World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations and speed free trade talks. Chilean minister of foreign affairs Soledad Alvear and Chinese trade minister Bo Xilai met and discussed proposals for a free trade agreement. [65]

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Le partage des cultures : Une contribution aux politiques culturelles de l’Europe

From July 11 to 13, 2004, the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) conference entitled Sharing Cultures: A Contribution to Cultural Policies for Europe was held in Rotterdam . The Foundation’s objective was to provide an organized framework for European cultural policies. Based in the Netherlands, ECF is Europe’s only independent, non-national, and pan-European foundation active in the areas of culture, the media, and education. It promotes artistic and cultural cooperation in the European integration process. [65]

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Un nouveau groupe de politique culturelle démarre en Europe

The European Cultural Foundation (ECF) has formed a Cultural Policy Education Group (CPEG) for students, researchers, and professors working on cultural policy issues and vocational training. CPEG activities center on cultural policy development and education, as well as the creation of academic programs in this area. [65]

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Deuxième réunion inter-américaine des ministres de la Culture et des hautes autorités de l’OÉA

The II Inter-American Meeting of Ministers and Highest Authorities of Culture of the Organization of American States (OAS) will be held on August 23 and 24, 2004, in Mexico City, Mexico. It follows preparatory meetings held in Washington, D.C. on June 16 to 18, 2004, and attended by OAS member countries (Argentina, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, [Bolivia], Brazil, Canada-Québec, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, , Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, [Panama], Paraguay, Peru, , Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela) and nongovernmental organizations (the Inter-American Development Bank [IDB], U.S. National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, International Network on Cultural Policy [INCP], UNESCO Regional Program Office, World Bank [IBRD], and World Intellectual Property Organization [WIPO]). These preparatory meetings focused on three major themes: culture as an engine for economic growth, employment, and development; the challenges faced by cultural industries; and culture as a tool for social cohesion and the fight against poverty. [65]
Site web : http://www.oas.org/
To view the documents:

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Les Rencontres de Séoul stimulent la création de coalitions en Espagne, au Pérou et en Uruguay

In our July 12, 2004 newsletter, we announced the creation of the Spanish Coalition for Cultural Diversity. This week, the Secretariat for the International Liaison Committee of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (ILC) reports in the July 2004 issue of Coalition Currents that new coalitions for cultural diversity are also being established in Uruguay and Peru, and that leading cultural organizations in Brazil, Hungary, Italy, and Poland have initiated discussions with a view to forming coalitions in their countries as well. Similar initiatives are planned in Colombia, Ecuador, Ireland, and South Africa. The newsletter concludes that the Third International Meeting of Cultural Professional Organizations in Seoul is already a remarkable success, given this series of actions occurring in its wake. [65]

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Congrès international sur les droits culturels et le développement humain

From August 23 to 27, 2004, Interarts Foundationwill host an International Congress on Cultural Rights and Human Development in parallel with the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures in Barcelona, Spain. [65]

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Liberté culturelle dans un monde diversifié - "Pour le PNUD, le développement humain passe par la liberté culturelle"

Le Monde, édition du 15 juillet 2004 - 2004/07/15

In this edition of Le Monde, journalist Babette Stern revisits the 2004 World Human Development Report published by UNDP. She writes that the Report also warns against the standardization of culture, which “would lose all its flavor if left solely to the whims of the market.” World trade in media products and services has quadrupled over the past two decades, increasing from $95 billion to some $380 billion, with approximately 80% of these flows originating in only 13 countries, primarily the United States. For Report authors who support a cultural exception in international trade agreements, cultural goods differ from other goods because “they convey ideas, symbols, and lifestyles.” [65] (Available in French)

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"Notre politique culturelle doit être offensive et reposer à la fois sur le soutien à l’action publique et sur le développement d’industries culturelles européennes"

Le Nouvel Observateur, Semaine du jeudi 8 juillet 2004 - n°2070 - Réflexions - 2004/07/08

  1. Mr. Laurent Fabius, Deputy Mayor of Grand-Quevilly, former Prime Minister of France, former Minister Delegate to the Minister of Economy and Finance, and former President of the National Assembly, takes part in the Débats de l’Obs series on the importance of culture and argues that it be made central to policy: “We should not be ashamed of what we think: Let us demand a major role for local public bodies and the state in culture , since the market does not need culture and cannot regulate it.” In his view, “subjecting intellectual creation to the sole logic of commerce is forgetting that artists and cultural practices must be preserved from exclusively profit-driven motives. This is our position in major trade negotiations—and rightly so. Let us put it into action in France and in Europe! This means encouraging patronage of the arts and developing attractive tax incentives, rather than withdrawing support and slashing budgets. It means promoting artists, cultural institutions, museums, theaters, and orchestras and funding public broadcasting, which must take action at a time when reality entertainment is gradually invading our television and music.”

The former prime minister nonetheless recognizes that culture has become a major economic issue: “Audiovisual services are the leading U.S. export item. In the battles rocking the publishing world in France and Europe, we’re gauging the importance of guaranteeing writers the freedom to write, and readers the freedom to choose. New technologies are transforming the copyright economy. Closer ties between Microsoft and Time Warner will profoundly affect the distribution of works. With the cultural economy marked by the worldwide flow of available works, the question of regulating corporate concentration underpins the cultural debate. With its wonderful language, abundant talent, and rich heritage, our country must take action if it is to remain a player in sectors where we traditionally excel. Of course, this will require cooperation with European partners. Our cultural policy must be offensive and based both on support for public initiatives and the development of European cultural industries. We must lose sight of the times we live in or the battle to be fought: Somewhere between an independent cottage-style industry tottering behind protective barriers rendered obsolete by new technology and the reign of the ultrapowerful transnational conglomerates marching to the American drum, Europe must invent its own model. France can and must help to lead the way.” [65] (Available in French)

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