Cultural diversity

Newsletter
The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 4, no 5, Monday, February 9, 2004

Diversité culturelle : "Le gouvernement du Canada continuera de jouer un rôle de chef de file dans la création d’un nouvel instrument international"

IN THIS ISSUE :

Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Publications and Studies

Other News of Interest



Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Diversité culturelle : "Le gouvernement du Canada continuera de jouer un rôle de chef de file dans la création d’un nouvel instrument international"

Mme Adrienne CLARKSON, Gouverneure générale du Canada - Discours du trône ouvrant la troisième session de la trente-septième législature du Canada  - 2 février 2004 - 2004/02/02

In the Speech from the Throne, Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson, declared that “Canada can make a difference.” She said that in order to do this, “We need to work better, to work smarter, in diplomacy, in development, in defence and in international trade,” because “all of which have become profoundly interdependent and are increasingly touching Canadians in their daily lives.” She also emphasized that, “We can play a distinctive role based on our values - the rule of law, liberty, democracy, equality of opportunity, and fairness.” With respect to this, Governor General Clarkson said specifically that, “The Government will continue its leadership in the creation of a new international instrument on cultural diversity, participate actively in la Francophonie, and promote and disseminate our cultural products and works around the world”. (Available in English and French)

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Publications and Studies

"L'exception culturelle - Une règle en quête de contenus"

Jean-Michel BAER, dans la revue EN TEMPS RÉEL, numéro 11, octobre 2003 - 2003/10

In this text, former Director of Culture and Audiovisual Policy at the European Commission, Jean-Michel Baer, emphasizes that UNESCO’s recent decision “to begin drafting an international political instrument capable of protecting and promoting cultural diversity” conveys to what extent “culture has become an issue in world politics.” He suggests that the first challenge of cultural diversity is to “recognize that culture is a good that is not simply commercial.” According to Baer, “addressing this challenge no longer makes sense except on a international level. However, once such recognition has been achieved, which is not yet the case, it is natural to then address the content of diversity.” In the text, the author stresses three facets of the issue: demonstrating how the question of cultural diversity “has developed politically in Europe … against an American vision that is very clearly opposed to the concept”; supporting the reason why the protection of cultural diversity has never solidified, which according to him, can be attributed to the development of technology and power that creates a state where “the relationship between the market and culture is constantly being renegotiated”; and outlining what will be “the real issue of cultural diversity: content.” With respect to this, he emphasizes specifically that slowing down the conglomeration of cultural offerings, dealing with cultural diversity in Europe by qualified majority, and promoting global distribution of cultural works “are goals without which diversity runs the risk of becoming a generic concept, all the more since it would lack content,” because even if “it is more or less clear what the protection of cultural diversity seeks to prohibit,” there is still the question of “what such a policy seeks and is able to promote.” (Available in French only)

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Les aides publiques européennes au cinéma et à l’audiovisuel pour la promotion de la diversité culturelle

IRIS plus, Observations juridiques de l’Observatoire européen de l’audiovisuel, Édition 2003-6, Strasbourg, juin 2003 - 2003/06

The study entitled “European Public Film Support within the WTO Framework” aims to clarify the debate on public support for the promotion of cultural diversity and a competitive European film and programming industry. Specifically, it seeks to describe systematically the areas where public support and the WTO regulatory framework intertwine through several articles that discuss the compatibility of film support policy with the GATT and GATS rules. It discusses that as part of the public consultation concerning the review of the “Television without Frontiers” Directive, various measures designed to support TV program production are under scrutiny, and that regarding film support, the European Commission has set itself the goal of preparing a new programme that will partially replace the MEDIA Plus Programme, which expires in 2006. However, Europeans are also currently faced with a complicated situation in that various states have called for audiovisual services to be made subject to WTO regulations, while one of the stated objectives is for the possibility of potentially anti-competitive effects of the various support programmes to be recognised and reduced. Nonetheless, the European Union has already taken a stance through statements made by the Commission and Parliament that the EU does not plan to enter into any commitments in the audiovisual sector. (Available in English and French)

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Diversité culturelle – l’engagement de la Francophonie : "Au-delà du succès de l’UNESCO, la mobilisation doit être maintenue"

M. Ablassé OUÉDRAOGO, envoyé spécial du Secrétaire général de la Francophonie, le Journal de l’Agence intergouvernementale de la Francophonie (AIF), no 34, octobre-novembre-décembre 2003 - 2003/10-11-12

This edition of the Journal de l’AIF also treats la Francophonie’s commitment to the issue of cultural diversity. It reports that the threat to cultural diversity has strengthened the determination of its defenders who pulled together during the 32nd session of the UNESCO General Conference (Paris, September 29 - October 17, 2003), where an overwhelming majority pronounced itself for the development of an International Convention on the Promotion and Preservation of Cultural Diversity. The Journal recalls that since the Cotonou Declaration and the Cotonou Action Plan for cultural diversity in 2001, la Francophonie has been soundly involved in the defence and promotion of cultural diversity against globalization, and that its efforts have also been applied to mobilizing Francophone States and governments through regional informational meetings organized by the AIF, among others. In this regard, la Francophonie Secretary-General special envoy, former Deputy Director General of the WTO and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, Ablassé Ouédraogo, stresses that beyond the success at UNESCO, “the fight has yet to begin and must be carried out with attention and perseverance so that the content of the International Convention on Cultural Diversity responds to the actual goals of UNESCO members, and especially to the concerns of developing countries who need to implement real national policies on cultural development.” (Available in French only)

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Other News of Interest

"El multilateralismo cultural : Encuentro de intelectuales con de Villepin"

José NATANSON, Pagina/12, Buenos Aires-Argentina, edición del: 04 de Febrero de 2004 - 2004/02/04

In this edition of the Buenos Aires-based Argentinean daily, José Natanson gives an account of the meeting between the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dominique de Villepin, and some Argentinean intellectuals. The intellectuals believe that the concept of cultural diversity needs to be broadened to one of “multipolar thought” or “cultural multilateralism” to “deconstruct” the predominant North American model and to develop a cultural and political model that is Latin American. Natanson goes on to discuss the initial “cultural exception” proposed by the French, and the notion of “cultural diversity” developed by Quebec to avoid subjecting governments’ rights to support their cultures to the WTO's market regulations (an idea that included the initial cultural exception), and suggests that what may follow now, given Franco-Argentinean thinking, is the development of a model of “multipolar thought” and of respect for cultural diversity or “cultural multilateralism” to compete against the predominant North American model. The general challenge proposed is to create a Latin American model. (Available in Spanish only)

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L’Union européenne et les pays du Groupe des États d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique (ACP) : "À la recherche d’un meilleur accord de partenariat économique"

Libération, Europe1, l’Express (Île Maurice), éditions du 4 et 5 février 2004 - 2004/02/04-05

Ambassadors and technicians from the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region and from the European Commission have begun preparatory meetings for the negotiation of an for Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe. Such an agreement aims to replace the Cotonou Agreement, which was declared incompatible with WTO regulations. The Cotonou Agreement provides for one-way trade preferences granted by the European Union to the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). However, such one-way agreements are prohibited by the WTO. To avoid the problem, economic partnership agreements between Europe and the subregions of the ACP need to be made by 2007. Such agreements would provide for the creation of free trade zones that would open ACP markets to European products. Negotiations began September 27, 2002 in Brussels. At the end of the first round of talks between the EU and the countries of the ACP, a preliminary agreement was signed on October 2, 2003 on horizontal issues in key areas such as market access, trade questions, services, and the scope of the development of EPAs. For observers, there is economic and commercial sense in these negotiations: “with the establishment of a free trade zone, countries in the region will constitute a potential market for European companies, while the threat of seeing products from these countries compete with European industries is diminished”. However, some say that “once committed to subregional agreements with Europe, it is possible that the importance of ACP countries as an economic group may fade to the point of disappearance.”
(Available in French only)

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Des aides publiques d’État au cinéma et à la création audiovisuelle: "Les professionnels européens réfutent les options proposées par la Commission européenne"

Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques (SACD), Paris, 16 janvier 2004 - 2004/01/16

In October 2003, the European Commission began reviewing the current EU system of national public support for films and TV programming and proposed “the adjustment of State compatibility criteria for films and TV programming”. At the center of the debate lies the idea of “territorialization”, according to which a member country that is partially financing a film may require that a producer spend a certain amount of the film budget within its territory. The current system enables a country to require a producer to spend up to 80% of the film budget, for which it has provided support, within its territory. According to SACD (French Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers), “if they were adopted, these proposals would lead to a profound examination of the regulations that currently govern the systems of public support for national film industries and audiovisual art. The proposals would promote the fragmentation of the filming process by breaking the necessary cohesion between the creative process and technical industries.” Moreover, SACD suggests that the best guarantee would be “to include measures in the draft EU constitution to ensure the protection of systems of public support for the creation of films and audiovisual art within the framework of protecting cultural diversity”. (Available in French only)

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Accord de libre-échange entre les États-Unis et le Costa Rica

The Associated Press – WASHINGTON, 26 janvier 2004 -2004/01/16

The Associated Press reports that the United States and Costa Rica reach a free trade agreement on February 1, 2004 that will enable the Central American country to join its four neighbours, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras, in establishing a free trade zone with the United States. The Associated Press reports specifically that in December 2003 the United States reached a free trade agreement with four Central American countries, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras, which covers every sector, but that Costa Rica had abruptly left the talks complaining of excessive demands on the part of the US regarding the opening of its telecommunications and insurance markets to competition. Nonetheless, on February 1, 2004 Costa Rica accepted completely opening its insurance market to foreign competition by 2011 as well as 3 key telecommunications sectors. (Available in French only)

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"L'accord de libre-échange Maroc/USA dans une phase décisive"

Jeune Afrique l’Intelligent, édition du 22 janvier 2004 - 2004/01/22

The newspaper reports statements made by the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Taieb Fassi Fihri, who said that negotiations for a free trade agreement between Morocco and the United States have entered an “advanced and decisive stage” for “sensitive” areas of national production regarding the conclusion of the agreement. However, the paper states, “the minister did not provide any details on new items that were introduced during the negotiations, which began at the beginning of 2003 and have been stalled for a few months because of concerns expressed by Moroccan professionals who fear unfair competition from the United States to the detriment of some national production”. According to Michael Koplovsky, economic advisor for the United States Embassy in Rabat, the agreement aims to be “broad, comprehensive, global, and exhaustive,” and includes not only customs rights, but also protection of intellectual property, transparency of government markets, e-commerce, telecommunications, the services sector, and investment. The Moroccan Minister of Communication, Nabil Benabdellah, assured that the free trade agreement between Morocco and the United States “does not present any danger for national production.” In this regard, he stated that “during the negotiations, Morocco presented its precise stances in cooperation with professionals from the cultural, audiovisual, agricultural, and pharmaceutical sectors and that the Americans made it clear that they understood Moroccan concerns.” (Available in French only)

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