Cultural diversity

Newsletter
The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 4, no 8, Monday, March 1, 2004

La diversité culturelle au centre de la coopération bilatérale Québec-Bavière

The first part of the French version of our monthly chronicle on cultural diversity is already available on our website at the following address:
 http://www.mcc.gouv.qc.ca/international/diversite-culturelle/pdf/chronique03-11-12.pdf
In this study, Professor Ivan Bernier analyzes the theoryand reality of local content quotas for film, radio, and television as a means to protect cultural diversity. The English and Spanish versions will be available on the website this week.

IN THIS ISSUE :

Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Publications and Studies

Other News of Interest



Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

La diversité culturelle au centre de la coopération bilatérale Québec-Bavière

Ministère des Relations internationales du Québec - Munich, le 26 janvier 2004 - 2004/01/26

Quebec Premier Jean Charest met in Munich with Bavarian Minister-President Edmund Stoiber to discuss economic and academic cooperation between Quebec and Bavaria and exchange ideas on issues of shared interest, particularly cultural diversity. The two heads of state, in particular, reaffirmed their “commitment to defending and promoting cultural diversity.” In this regard, they clearly expressed the desire of both governments to “encourage progress in the implementation of a convention on the diversity of cultural content and artistic expression.” This shared point of view, they declared, “echoes UNESCO’s commitment to draw up such a convention by 2005.”
(Available in French only)

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"La diversité culturelle et les droits humains : deux sujets au cœur des relations internationales du Québec"

Mme Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, vice-première ministre du Québec, ministre des Relations internationales et ministre responsable de la Francophonie – Sherbrooke, le 31 janvier 2004 - 2004/01/31

On the occasion of the fourth edition of “Quebec Model of United Nations 2004,” held in Sherbrook on January 31, 2004, Monique Gagnon-Tremblay emphasized that protecting cultural diversity is essential for Quebec. “That is why,” she stated, “we were the first government to support an International Convention on Cultural Diversity.” Defining cultural diversity as “the aspiration of nations to develop in a global context that encourages the growth of all cultures, within the framework of a true dialogue each other,” Ms. Gagnon-Tremblay maintained that this concept does not conflict with globalization. She stated, “As world citizens, we are proposing a modern conception of cultural diversity, one that is based on a controlled globalization that allows for the preservation of our own identity.” .Particularly pleased with the decision by UNESCO to “begin the work for drafting a convention on cultural content and artistic expression,” Ms. Gagnon-Tremblay stated that “Quebec would like to fully maintain its ability to support culture through its policies.” As a result, “It is strongly supporting and campaigning for the planned adoption of an International Convention on Cultural Diversity, which would create law that is parallel to international trade law, but not subject to it.” Quebec also intends to “devote its efforts” in partnership with the Canadian government to “assert” its position, “so that it will be considered at the next UNESCO General Conference, to be held  in 2005 in Paris.” (Available in French only)

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"Les institutions européennes doivent privilégier la diversité culturelle à la rentabilité "

Forum européen des Créateurs, Bruxelles, le 19 février 2003 - 2003/02/19

 Organizations representing writers, musicians, actors and artists, grouped within the European Creators’ Forum, criticise market forces, which “by responding to imperatives of profitability, pose a threat to intellectual property protection policy.” For the Creators, “This situation could have drastic consequences for cultural development and seriously jeopardise the fabric of diversity in an enlarged European Union.” To this end, they have called on Brussels to protect their rights to prevent European “cultural decay” and stated that “European institutions must defend cultural diversity against profitability and that means acknowledging the fundamental role that creators play in the economic and cultural life of Europe.” (Available in French only)

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Francophonie : "Poursuivre la bataille pour la diversité culturelle au sein de l'UNESCO"

M. Abdou DIOUF, secrétaire général de l’Organisation internationale de la francophonie - Mali, le 25 février 2004 - 2004-02/25

“On an official visit to Mali, Secretary-General of la Francophonie, Abdou Diouf, and his delegation were received by Malian government officials, including the President of the Republic and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.  They discussed cultural diversity, economic development, and good governance, issues on which Mr. Diouf assured Malian officials the “accompaniment” of la Francophonie.  Mr. Diouf also called for “civilized globalization” and stated that “the IOF also pledges to continue the fight for cultural diversity within UNESCO.” (Available in French only)

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"la Mondialisation et les accords de libre-échange internationaux et régionaux : un passage incontournable"

M. Joseph E. STIGLITZ, professeur d'économie, et prix Nobel d’économie (2001) - Maroc Télécom, le 20 février 2004-2004/02/20

At a conference on the theme, “Quelle planification pour un développement humain durable dans le contexte d'une économie globalisée?,” organized in Rabat by Morocco’s High Commissioner for the Plan, Joseph E. Stiglitz, author of "Globalization and Its Discontents,” warned against “the gigantic market that is globalization, emphasizing in particular, free trade agreements that have become the unavoidable path for any country wishing to work its way towards this globalization, which some fear, with the exception of economic giants, such as the United States.” Mr. Stiglitz maintained that “a free trade agreement does not necessarily guarantee free trade.” Citing the example of agreements signed by the United States with Mexico, Vietnam and Chile, Mr. Stiglitz expressed his desire for “transparency to be implemented in any negotiation to avoid unpleasant surprises.” In fact, according to him, “It was and continues to be very much in the interest of the United States to sign these agreements due to the failure of the Cancun Summit (Mexico).” In addition, “It will only sign this type of agreement if its ‘special interests’ are guaranteed,” maintained Stiglitz. He further speculated that “a good trade compromise can avoid any confusion between the ‘simplistic view,’ which considers liberalisation as merely an opening of markets in both directions, and that which views it simply as a marathon towards formidable competition.” Mr. Joseph E. Stiglitz is a professor of Economics at Columbia University, a winner of a Nobel Prize in Economics (2001), and a former White House Economic Advisor and Chief Economist and Vice-President of the World Bank (1997-2000). (Available in French only)

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Publications and Studies

L'avenir de la Politique de réglementation européenne dans le domaine de l'audiovisuel - Communication de la Commission au Conseil, au Parlement européen, au Comité économique et social européen et au Comité des régions - COM(2003) 784 final

Commission des Communautés européennes - Bruxelles, le 15 décembre 2003 - 2003/12/15

This communication emphasizes the effect of changing technology on the development of the audiovisual market. It suggests that digital technologies and convergence will increasingly involve new forms of content, new means of providing it, and new business models to finance it. To this end, regulatory policy in the sector “has to safeguard certain public interests, such as cultural diversity, the right to information, the protection of minors and consumer protection now and in the future.” In addition, it stresses that Community policy in the audiovisual sector “is aimed at promoting the development of the audiovisual sector in the Union, notably through the completion of the internal market for this sector, while supporting paramount objectives of general interest, such as cultural diversity.” With particular regards to its trade policy on audiovisual services, the European Community and its Member States “have not made commitments and have taken exemptions to the Most Favoured Nation clause in the last multilateral trade negotiations Round, known as the ‘Uruguay Round.’ By doing so, the EU benefits from room for manoeuvre in the audiovisual sector, which secures the possibility both to maintain existing national and Community measures in this sector and to further develop national and Community policies and instruments, in response to developments in the sector.” Moreover, the EU must “ensure that the Community and its Member States maintain the possibility to preserve and develop their capacity to define and implement their cultural and audio-visual policies for the purpose of preserving their cultural diversity.” It is in this context that the Commission adopted in August 2003 the communication entitled, “Towards an international instrument on cultural diversity,” in which it “supported the opportunity to develop a new international instrument on cultural diversity in the framework of UNESCO.” In so doing, the European Union claims it is “open to trade and co-operation in audiovisual services, the promotion of exchanges in those services being a necessary component of its cultural diversity objective.” It states that such objectives are pursued through “the development of the cultural and audiovisual dimension of existing partnerships between the EU and third countries.” (Available in English, French and Spanish)

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Les aides d’État à la production cinématographique et le financement du cinéma européen dans l’Europe de 2004

Me Yannick-Eleonore Scaramozzino, avocate au Barreau de Paris, Scaraye Cabinet D’avocats, février 2004

According to the European Community Treaty, monitoring state aid is solely the responsibility of the Commission.  In this regard, the Commission established the principles to be followed when applying regulation on state aid in the film sector. In addition to general legal criteria, it identified four specific compatibility criteria, which serve as a basis for current evaluations of state aid in film and television production within the framework of its cultural exemption provision. These specific compatibility criteria for aid in film production will remain valid until June 2004.  Thus, Mr. Scaramozzino questions whether the Commission’s criteria, which were established from a domestic market perspective, remain relevant in the construction of a democratic Europe. In other words, by eliminating systems for state aid in film production, will the Europe of 2004 be able to move towards realizing the objective of “respecting cultural diversity” and be “united in its diversity”? Through the analysis of EU financial instruments, such as the “Television Without Borders” Directive, and the “Media Plus” and “i2i Audiovisual” programs, it provides a summary of state aid in the film production and financial mechanisms for the European film industry in the Europe of 2004 with regards to cultural diversity. (Available in French only)

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Other News of Interest

In 2,000 Years, Will the World Remember Disney or Plato? - US “cultural imperialism” threatens foreign cultural diversity

Mr. Mark Rice-Oxley, Christian Science Monitor - January 15, 2004 - 2004/01/15

In this article, Mr. Rice-Oxley demonstrates how “American cultural imperialism” is threatening cultural diversity in the world. In particular, he maintains that the United States has become a global superpower in terms of cultural expansion. It is exporting its culture on an unprecedented scale: from music to media, film production to sports, and language to literature. Hollywood, for example, dominates the global film market, with 90% of audiences in some European countries, while in Africa 2 out of 3 films are American. Rupert Murdoch's satellites, with their heavy traffic of US audiovisual content, saturate the Asian subcontinent. American English is the language of choice for would-be pop stars in Europe, software programmers in India, and Internet surfers everywhere. This “McDomination” poses a totalitarian threat to cultural diversity. Local industries are at risk of extinction because of US oligopolies, such as Hollywood. The author cites a recent report by UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), according to which 13 of the world’s top 14 Internet and satellite TV firms are American. Three American music companies produce and distribute 85% of the music in the world. For Joost Smiers, the consolidation of the communications industry into a few conglomerates such as AOL-TimeWarner, Disney, and News Corporation, means that the “infotainment” generated for global consumption nearly always comes from an Anglophone perspective. He also concludes that “America's aggressive cultural policy hinders national states from regulating their own cultural markets.” That is why, according to him, “we should take culture out of the WTO.” (Available in English only)

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Accord de libre-échange entre le Maroc et les États-Unis : "l’industrie culturelle marocaine en sursis"

Forum marocain du libre-échange, le 23 février 2004-2004/02/23

Le Forum marocain du libre-échange reports on the article of Chadwane Bensalmia, which appeared in the Casablanca magazine Tel Quel, in which the auther worries that following agriculture and pharmaceutical industry, Americans are preparing to “wipe out Morocco’s cultural industry with an agreement that excludes any form of cultural exception.”  Accepting the agreement, he believes would signify “giving up our identity.” In particular, he wonders: A platform for the region, a model for Arab countries, or a successful configuration for future agreements in the process of being concluded? It would be a shame for Morocco to serve as a guinea pig, all the more so since two countries, Israël and Costa Rica, natural allies of the US, refused to sign the cultural chapter of the free trade agreement and eventually obtained the famous cultural exeption. (Available in French only)

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Accord entre la France et Madagascar sur l'encouragement et la protection réciproques des investissements : "une disposition garantissant la liberté de protéger la diversité culturelle"

Présidence de la République française - Paris, le 18 février 2004 - 2004/02/18

The governments of France and Madagascar have ratified a bilateral agreement, which includes a provision that guarantees the freedom to protect cultural and linguistic diversity. This Franco- Malagasy agreement grants legislative protection to investments in the host country and includes clauses for fair and equitable treatment that is at least as favourable as that which is reserved for national investors or most-favoured nation investors, if such treatment is more favourable. In addition, it includes the recourse of international arbitration in the case of a disagreement between the investor and the host country. (Available in French only)

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