Cultural diversity

Newsletter
The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 4, no 19, Monday, May 17, 2004

May 21:World Day for Cultural Diversity

On May 21, 2004, the international community will mark the second annual World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, which was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in the wake of the adoption of UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity in November 2001. To underline the importance of the event, UNESCO is inviting all member states and civil society to celebrate the day by getting numerous stakeholders and partners involved. “Let’s celebrate together our rich cultural diversity” is the message from UNESCO director-general Koïchiro Matsuura. Mr. Matsuura notes that “far from separating us, cultural diversity is a collective strength that should benefit the entire world. In this sense, it should be recognized and affirmed as a ‘Common Heritage’ of humanity.” He adds that this World Day provides an opportunity to further our reflections on the value of cultural diversity to help us learn to better “live together.” In his comment, Mr. Mounir Bouchenaki, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, declares that “globalization can be seen as a threat to diversity because of the threat of standardization and impoverishment linked to the growing commercialization of cultural products.” But he points out that there are opportunities to be seized: “Culture in this sense is not only an instrument of peace and conciliation, but also a powerful factor of development, and perhaps even a key to a shared planetary future.”

IN THIS ISSUE :

Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Publications and Studies

Other News of Interest



Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

"Le Canada fait la promotion sans relâche d’une Convention sur la diversité culturelle sous l’égide de l’UNESCO"

M. Paul Martin, Premier ministre du Canada, le 10 mai 2004 - 2004/05/10

In this speech at a luncheon organized by Conseil des relations internationales de Montréal (CORIM), Centre d’études et de recherches de l’Université de Montréal (CERIUM), and the organization Montréal International, Prime Minister Paul Martin of Canada declared that “Canada has relentlessly promoted a convention on cultural diversity under the auspices of UNESCO. Why? First, to protect our own cultural heritage, but also for what it means outside our borders.” Mr. Martin went on to add that “countries must have the right to take the necessary measures to preserve and promote their culture. What's important about the UNESCO convention is that it helps strengthen institutions and reassures societies, by letting them know that they can adopt a modern system of governance and open up to the world, without losing their distinct culture.” Mr. Martin noted that this was the path Canada had followed throughout its history. (Available in French and English)

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Coopération France-Québec : "Poursuivre notre réflexion commune sur la diversité culturelle" - Entrevue accordée par M. Jean Charest à M. Pierre Ganz, journaliste à Radio France internationale

L’Express, édition du 10 mai 2004 - 2004/05/10

In this interview, which can be heard on the Radio France internationale Website, Québec Premier Jean Charest reaffirms Québec’s determination to play a more active role on the international stage within the framework of the Canadian confederation. He discusses the need to protect cultural diversity by reconciling it with what he views as a compatible position in favor of free trade. Mr. Charest declares that “Free trade should not be implemented under just any conditions.” Free trade negotiations must take into account “issues of good governance, human rights, the environment, and workers’ rights”—this is the type of globalization the premier seeks. Asked about the status of France-Québec cooperation, Mr. Charest says he hopes to continue their “joint reflection on cultural diversity issues.” (Available in French)

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Le Québec, la France et la diversité culturelle : "Faire entendre la voix du Québec sur la scène internationale"

M. Jean Charest, Premier ministre du Québec, le 5 mai 2004 - 2004/05/05

Wrapping up a five-day official visit to France in the company of his minister of culture and communications, Ms Line Beauchamp, Premier Jean Charest of Québec delivered a positive assessment of the experience. During the visit, Mr. Charest met with French political leaders as well as the director-general of UNESCO and the secretary general of the Francophonie, with whom he discussed cultural diversity, "an issue that Québec staunchly defends." Radio-Canada reported that one of Mr. Charest’s objectives was to “affirm Québec’s determination to extend its influence in international organizations Canada belongs to on debates touching on areas of provincial jurisdiction.” (Available in French)

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Publications and Studies

Revisiting the debate on policies to promote cultural diversity and local content in the context of globalized communication

Mr. Roberto Montes, International Forum on Local Cultural Expression and Communication, August 2003 - 2003/08

An international forum on local cultural expression and communication hosted by UNESCO was held on November 3 to 6, 2003, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, under the theme safeguarding endangered cultures by promoting local content, freedom of expression, and cultural diversity. The forum addressed issues such as safeguarding endangered cultures through communication; producing local content as an expression of cultural diversity; and promoting communications policies with an emphasis on cultural diversity, freedom of expression, and cultural content. These topics spurred discussions on communications strategies for intercultural dialogue and cultural expression, as well as global trends in local content production and dissemination. Approximately 100 prominent personalities, academics, and communications and cultural science specialists from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin and North America, and the Pacific participated in the event. For the forum, Mr. Roberto Montes produced a working paper suggesting original and different angles for envisaging the debate on policies and measures to promote cultural diversity and local content in the context of globalized communications. He sees this paper as an attempt to open up the debate to new or neglected approaches to understanding the issue. (Available in English and French)

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Francophonie - "Nos deux mandats : développement et diversité culturelle"

Journal de l’Agence intergouvernemental de la Francophonie (AIF), no 35 - Janvier-février-mars 2004 - 2004/01-02-03

This edition of the AIF journal focuses on the Agency’s new program for 2004 and 2005. Refocused on five main priorities, the program includes areas of action in support of the Francophonie’s two mandates—sustainable development and the preservation of cultural diversity. The author of the editorial, AIF general director Roger Dehaybe, states that “La Francophonie, with its vision of a diverse world where differences are affirmed and organized into a constructive dialogue, has no doubt helped lay the foundation for a different vision of globalization. In the same vein, we will pursue our efforts in favor of UNESCO’s adoption of a convention on cultural diversity in 2005. By the same token, we will continue strengthening the position of francophone countries in the South with regard to international trade.” (Available in French)

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Marché mondial du Film - Faut-il internationaliser le financement des films? - Situation de la production et de l’exploitation du film dans le monde

FOCUS 2004 – Observatoire européen de l’audiovisuel, Bruxelles, le 13 mai 2004 - 2004/05/13

In a statistical report entitled World Film Market Trends, the European Audiovisual Observatory notes that European films did well in their national markets in 2003, but performed poorly elsewhere. The Observatory indicates that more films are being produced, whereas ticket sales in the EU have declined. Specifically, “954 million cinema tickets were sold in the 25 Member States of the European Union, a decline of 4.4% in relation to 2002.”American films increased their share of a shrinking market by 1.6%, while European films traveled with less success. In addition, “752 films were produced in the 25 Member States of the European Union in 2003, an increase of 25 films (+ 3%) in relation to the total estimated for 2002 (727 films).”Among the major markets, only France saw an increase in the number of productions, with a new record of 212 films, while Germany, Italy, and Spain suffered from the decline in coproductions. The May 10, 2004 edition of Le Figaro headlined that “Europe has yet to harmonize film industry funding.” According to the magazine, “while American films continue to dominate Europe as a whole, member countries are working to develop funding systems to revitalize a long-neglected film industry.” The magazine also notes that the European countries have all developed national film centers to coordinate funding systems and take action on related economic and political issues, and that as a result of their initiatives, the European Commission did not question film funding late last year. Nonetheless, the article notes that “European solidarity has not prevented countries from developing highly diverse funding systems.” For example, England, Germany, Benelux, and the northern European countries favor tax incentives for producers who shoot their films in the country. “Under this system,” notes the magazine, “producers can write off 100% of a film budget during the fiscal year.” In France and southern Europe, TV networks are the main contributors through a special taxation system generating revenues that are redistributed through a variety of film industry support funds. (Available in French and English)

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Other News of Interest

International symposium Cultural Diversity and Globalization: The Arab-Japanese Experience of Interregional Dialogue

An international symposium entitled Cultural Diversity and Globalization: The Arab-Japanese Experience of Interregional Dialogue was held at UNESCO on May 6 and 7, 2004. The event provided a forum for experts from Japan and the Arab world to discuss cultural diversity and the challenges of globalization. Organized by UNESCO, the Arab Group to UNESCO and the Permanent Delegation of Japan to UNESCO, with the assistance of the Japan Foundation, the symposium focused on three main themes: a comparison of the modernization process in Japan and selected Arab countries and the teachings to be derived from the outcomes; the challenge of sustaining cultural diversity in the face of globalization; and the elaboration of an epistemology of intercultural dialogue and methodological tools for cultural policies at the national and international levels. Speaking at the opening of the symposium in the presence of representatives from Japan and the Arab countries, UNESCO director-general Koïchiro Matsuura declared, “This symposium is as much the rational outcome of the dialogue of cultures and civilizations as of the defense of cultural diversity.”

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International Biennial of Contemporary African Art: the Dak’art 2004

Senegal’s head of state Abdoulaye Wade opened the 6th edition of the International Biennial of Contemporary African Art in Dakar, Senegal, on May 7, 2004, with a speech stressing “the importance of culture to a country’s economic development.” Mr. Wade, who paid tribute to the event for promoting creativity and universal values, rejoiced that “artists are investing the world of digital art, another way of narrowing the digital gap Africa must seek to bridge with the support and solidarity of the developed countries.” Pointing to the Biennial’s diversity, universality, and cultural richness, Mr. Wade expressed the wish that the event serve “as an open-ended framework for promoting art and for providing economic opportunities necessary to the development of our countries and our cultural stakeholders.” Mr. Bernard Petterson of the Intergovernmental Agency of the Francophonie warned members of the cultural community “against the danger of commodifying culture, an idea that is insidiously gaining ground and which culture stakeholders must prepare to fight.” The European Union representative urged the Biennial “to establish a legal framework to help improve its financial viability, but not at the expense of backing away from the government, which must continue to support this event out of public interest.”

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“Global audiovisual communication, cultural diversity and regulation”: Barcelona invites the world to a Universal Forum of Cultures

From May 9 to September 26, Barcelona is staging a new kind of international gathering, the Universal Forum of Cultures, built around three main themes: cultural diversity, sustainable development, and conditions for peace. “All of the problems affecting today’s world will be addressed, not from a government perspective, but from a civil society perspective,” announced Forum 2004 spokesman Oleguer Sarsanedas in presenting the event to the press. On May 8, 2004, King Juan Carlos of Spain officially opened the forum with a call to build a “fairer, more prosperous, more caring world.” UNESCO director-general Koïchiro Matsuura also spoke at the opening ceremonies, declaring that “UNESCO, whose core missions include promoting a fruitful diversity of cultures, cannot but see a symbol in this magnificent idea taking shape before us today of a universal forum of cultures. It is the symbol in this globalizing world of a new value accorded to diversity that not only gives meaning to our differences, but also, and even more importantly, demonstrates our common belonging to humanity.”
One of events scheduled during the forum is Global audiovisual communication, cultural diversity and regulation, a meeting that will be hosted by the Audiovisual Council of Catalonia (CAC) on May 28 and 29, 2004. The meeting will bring together representatives of the world’s 98 broadcasting regulatory authorities along with broadcasters, producers, and experts to debate the role of regulatory authorities in protecting and promoting cultural diversity. Spawned by the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, the event seeks to offer a pluralist vision representative of the countries in attendance. Participants will look at the implementation of policies to protect and promote cultural diversity and the need to exclude culture (including audiovisual) from trade liberalization. Information on the meeting (introduction, news, agenda, documents) is available in English, French, Spanish, and Catalan on the CAC Website.

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Cultural diversity in the Cannes Film Festival

The 57th edition of the Cannes Film Festival opened on May 12 and closes on May 23, 2004. At its April 21 meeting, the Festival Board of Directors solemnly reiterated “its commitment to cultural diversity, which has been at the core of the Festival since its founding.” Writing in Liberation on May 12, 2004, David Kessler, the director general of Centre national français de la cinématographie (CNC), declared that the Festival was also a place of welcome and debate. To this end, the Festival, in cooperation with the European Commission, organized a “Europe Day” for the second year in a row under the dual patronage of Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Education and Culture, and Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, French Minister of Culture and Communication. Two days earlier, Société des auteurs et compositeurs (SACD), an official Festival partner, held a meeting on cultural diversity with members of the Directors Guild of Great Britain. SACD also took part in the Antipiracy Conference held on May 11 and organized by the Cannes Festival, CNC, and Groupe Canal + in collaboration with ALPA (Association de Lutte contre la Piraterie Audiovisuelle). The conference, which was attended by SACD director general Pascal Rogard, brought together professionals and authors to discuss regulatory issues regarding dissemination of works on the Internet and to seek answers in the fight against piracy.

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Aides à la production cinématographique des pays du Sud : "les métiers de l’audiovisuel au Sénégal"

Groupe Wal Fadjri – Sénégal, édition du 12 mai 2004 - 2004/05/12

The Senegalese government recently passed a Film and Audiovisual Industry Act with a view to implementing audiovisual development projects in Senegal. This legislation is intended to “help meet the needs of Dakar Imagesand Ardèches Imagesin their efforts to obtain production assistance for film projects through institutions such as the Intergovernmental Agency of the Francophonie and Fonds Sud Télévision.” Even though several successful projects have been completed under the Audiovisual Professional Development Support Project—an initiative of Dakar Imagesand Ardèches Imagesin partnership with French-language television station TV5 and a producers’ collective—Ms Maty Guèye, Director of Dakar Images, asserts that audiovisual professionals are still struggling to make ends meet. For this reason, both organizations must attend the next West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) meeting to be held in Bamako in June to discuss funding for audiovisual professions. (Available in French)

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Diversité culturelle et développement des industries culturelles – Forum des Nations Unies sur les petits États insulaires en développement (PEID)

Institut International du Développement Durable (IIDD), le 28 Janvier 2004 - 2004/01/28

A one-week Small Island Developing States (SIDS) forum kicked off in Nassau, Bahamas, on January 26, 2004, in the presence of Bahamian Prime Minister Perry G. Christie. Attended by over 300 representatives of some 50 small island states—including numerous ministers—and a dozen donor countries, as well as UN leaders, experts, and NGO delegates, the forum featured six roundtables, including one on cultural diversity, the development of cultural industries, and youth capacity building. Roundtable participant Hilary Brown of the CARIFORUM Cultural Support Fund explained the role of culture in sustainable development and the need to integrate culture into the implementation of the Barbados Program of Action on the Sustainable Development of SIDS (BPOA). She also highlighted the important role of governments in protecting cultural diversity, particularly in light of globalization, trade liberalization, and technological development. Mr. Michael Witter of the University of West Indies stated that cultural industries give SIDS an opportunity to expand their markets and sources of outside income, and stressed the need for governments to promote cultural industries and cooperation between SIDS. Ms Patricia Ramsey of Technical University of Jamaica underscored the need to strengthen SIDS social capital, demonstrate the creativity of local talent, and integrate the socioeconomic benefits of cultural development. She called for the establishment of regional cultural centers, training, and technical assistance, as well as cooperation with local communities. Ms Verna Barnett of UNESCO described UNESCO projects under way in five Caribbean countries to build youth capacity and protect cultural diversity. Forum participants also stressed the importance of speeding the implementation of priorities identified by SIDS in order to promote economic growth and human development, as well as strengthen their national and regional capacities. Recognizing that “globalization and trade liberalization have not yet proven a viable solution to the economic problems of most SIDS and, in many cases, have only exacerbated these problems,” José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, emphasized the pertinence and urgency for SIDS to implement national sustainable development strategies and promote cultural diversity. (Available in French and English)

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