Cultural diversity

The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 5, no 7 , Monday, March 28, 2005

To continue mobilization and awareness push for UNESCO adoption of a Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions


Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Recent Publications


Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

The 171st UNESCO Executive Board and the European Community’s participation in the upcoming negotiations on the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

UNESCO, Paris, 17 March 2005 – 2005/03/27

At the 171st UNESCO Executive Board session which will be held, as agreed, April 12-28, 2005 in Paris, UNESCO will vote on adopting a draft decision allowing the European Community to actively participate, on behalf of the European Community, in the upcoming negotiations on the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The draft is item 60 on the agenda, at the request of Luxembourg on behalf of Member States of the European Union. Those require to the Executive Board to authorize the participation of the European Community by extending to it the following rights : to have the right to speak, to reply, to put forward proposals and amendments at the formal meetings; to be permitted to take part in committees, working groups, formal and informal meetings; to have its own nameplate. The right to vote is not included.

It should be noted that at present, the European Community is an observer in UNESCO. However, The rights that UNESCO attaches to observers do not allow the European Commission to fully negotiate on behalf of the European Community, and to be able to safeguard its interests, given the European Community’s wish to become a Party to the Convention. In addition, the Treaty establishing the European Community provides that in the areas pertaining to Community competences, in particular to exclusive competence, the Member States of the European Community are no longer entitled to negotiate and to undertake individually or collectively, international obligations. Moreover , some of the envisaged provisions of the preliminary UNESCO Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions have a direct impact on the exclusive competence of the European Community. A number of other areas of the Convention fall within shared competences between the Community and its Member States. It is therefore because considering the extent of Community competences covered by the draft Convention, the Council of the European Community adopted, in November 2004, negotiating directives authorizing the European Commission to conduct, on behalf of the Community, the negotiation of the Convention. [05-07]

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Supporting UNESCO in the intergovernmental approval process of the Convention on Cultural Diversity: I nternational Meeting of the Ministers of culture in Madrid

Ministère français de la Culture et de la Communication, le 21 mars 2005 – 2005/03/21

In a joint statement, Spanish, Brazilian and French Ministers of Culture, respectively Mrs. Carmen Calvo, Mr Gilberto Gil, and M. Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, launched an invitation to their colleagues for an international Meeting of the Ministers of Culture. This meeting will be held in Madrid, June the 11, and 12 2005 with an aim of reiterating their engagement to support UNESCO in the intergovernmental process of approval of Convention on cultural diversity, at the time of the general Conference of the autumn 2005. The three ministers consider that future Convention constitutes an essential instrument to ensure the development of all the cultures in the world and to return freedom of movement of the goods and cultural services compatible with the necessary safeguarding of the cultural identities. In this spirit, the joint ministerial statement in support of the draft Convention on Cultural Diversity highlights the fundamental elements that the draft must contain. [05-07]

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Protecting cultural diversity in Europe: European heads of state call for major revisions to the draft Bolkestein directive

Coalition française pour la diversité culturelle, le 23 mars 2005 – 2005/03/23

La Coalition française pour la diversité culturelle a lancé un appel à la mobilisation contre le projet de directive sur la libéralisation des services (directive Bolkestein ) concocté par la Commission européenne. À cet égard, de nombreux États européens, dont l’Allemagne, la Belgique, la Suède, le Danemark, le Portugal et l’Espagne, ont rallié publiquement cette semaine la position française réclamant une remise à plat de ce texte, lors du Conseil européen. La Coalition espère que cette volonté politique se retrouvera dans la décision du Conseil qui, en l’absence du retrait total du projet de directive par la Commission européenne, reste le seul décisionnaire avec le Parlement européen. De plus, les défenseurs de la diversité culturelle, à travers la Coalition, réitèrent leurs positions en faveur de l'exclusion des politiques culturelles (audiovisuelles et de cinéma) du champ d'application de la directive, et demandent un traitement spécifique pour les activités des sociétés de gestion collective, du statut social des travailleurs de la culture et des licences d'agents artistiques et d'entrepreneurs de spectacles. [05-07]

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Recent Publications

Éléments pour une économie des industries culturelles

SODEC, le 23 février 2005 - 2005/02/23

The Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC) of Quebec recently published a book entitled: Éléments pour une économie des industries culturelles . The book by Marc Ménard, who holds a PhD in economics and has worked as a researcher for SODEC since 1998, analyzes the relationship between the economy and cultural industries. At this crucial time when economic liberalism is attempting to put cultural goods on equal footing with other types of goods, SODEC examines the characteristics of the economy of cultural industries (“an economy unlike any other”) from Quebec’s experience. Marc Ménard states that the unique nature of cultural goods corresponds to an economy with the following distinct traits: reproduction based on high fixed production costs and low reproduction costs; implementation of a high amount of creative work; constantly renewed supply; uncertain demand; each product is a prototype. Although these characteristics are not unique to culture, their importance and simultaneous appearance within the same sector correspond to cultural industries and distinguishes it from other sectors.

This model for the economy of cultural goods that the author proposes follows an analysis of the importance placed on culture in economic theories throughout history, as well as a detailed description of each of the following industries: books, records, variety shows, applied arts, film and television production. At a time when the international community is actively engaged in a debate on cultural diversity, SODEC is proud to shed further light on the topic, which helps us understand the ways in which cultural goods are absolutely unlike other goods. [05-07]

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International Commons at the Digital Age/La création en partage

Danièle Bourcier & Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay , Éditions Romillat, décembre 2004 – 2004/12

International Commons at the Digital Age/La création en partage is the first collective and international work on the Creative Commonslicenses. Creative Commons is a nonprofit that offers an alternative to full copyright to help authors to share and build upon creative works. The book analyses the first questions raised by the introduction of Creative Commons licenses in different legal systems and shows the real accounting of "cultural diversity" through Internet actors self-regulation. The authors defend that open access to information and culture for all is possible. They also address a wealth of subjects such as adapting to national specificities and legal systems, the influence of Creative Commons licenses on the creative process, the relationship between this mechanism and the management of traditional copyright, the originality of using metadata in exercising the right to seek information. These contributions gather testimonies and analysis of project leads in charge of the licenses translation, dissemination and implementation in their national legal systems. These lawyers, law professors, students and Information Technology researchers are enthusiastic with the possibility of sharing and mixing creative works in a context of open access to information and culture for all. Their contributions are grouped into three sections. The first section deals with the processes of transposing and adapting the system into national law (Holland, Australia, Taiwan, Sweden). The second section concerns governance and new modes of regulation on the Internet, since Creative Commons is considered a characteristic initiative of the “the civil society of Internet users”. The third section of the book describes two practical uses for Creative Commons licenses in the cultural sector (music and archives).

The second section holds one’s attention, particularly the chapter entitled: Creation as a Universal Common Good - Reflections on an Emergent Model / La création comme bien commun universel - Réflexions sur un modèle émergent. Here, the authors, Danièle Bourcier, Director of Research at CNRS (CERSA – University of Paris II) and Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay, Project Manager for International Creative Commons in France (CERSA – University of Paris II), show how the idea of Creative Commons can revolutionize the public domain’s approach and the exclusive nature of property rights. They reveal that an international critique in the Intellectual Property domain is growing. According to them rights are too strong, too exclusive (overpropertization), too difficult to manage in the digital world. For example, within the European Union, the French transposition draft of the 2001 Copyright Directive1 does not seem to bring a common and shared solution, notably on the implementation of the concept of “cultural diversity”. They also maintain that new solutions must be analyzed from the point of view of various actors on the web. In this way, they note that debates on author rights and on-line cultural practices oppose two economic approaches: one is based on sharing, the other on the market. But, according to the authors, these two approaches can be reconciliated by solutions such as Creative Commons. They suggest that Creative Commons licenses not only enable authors to regain the control and management of their right to choose to offer open access to culture, information, education and science, they also illustrate the complete process of electronic governance. Information and communication technology are both the source and objective of a new law. The educational and demonstrated nature of the licensing process goes against a traditional form of creative governance that is too rigid and incompatible with the freedom belonging to creativity and discovery. According to the authors, Creative Commons illustrates the principle of an emerging right that is adaptable, flexible and negotiated, one that does not oppose, but rather complements states rights, which are at times too restrictive. Such practices of self-regulation renew the question of the standard’s effectiveness, as its application is not controlled and its violation is not sanctioned. Freedom of contract serves as a shield against protection laws and techniques that seek to re-establish the economic rivalry of digital products, and allows other objectives to be effectively achieved, such as enriching the public domain and establishing a common cultural heritage that is freely accessible and shared.

According to the authors, the Creative Commons example shows that independent of public policies, private initiatives, through the voluntarily relinquishment of rights, are expanding the notion of common goods. These flexible solutions are contributing to a new “vitality” in the public domain. In this regard, Creative Commons is expanding the open source and open content movements, and falls under the UNESCO Resolution on the universal access to the cultural heritage of humanity. They ask, is it a new form of “global patriotism”, a new type of online governance to counterbalance the overly-complex rights of States? Does it suggest a new balance or a conflict between the globalization of goods and the universality of common values? Nevertheless, they conclude, if rights are reserved for the ownership of goods, it is also feasible that other rights could be applied to cultural heritage and the universal access to knowledge and culture. [05-07]

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Journée internationale de la Francophonie : La défense de la diversité culturelle fédère et élargit la communauté francophone

Le Monde , édition du 19 mars 2005 – 2005/03/19

On March 20, 2005, the francophone community across five continents celebrated the Journée internationale de la Francophonie . This edition of Le Monde reports that the event has prompted numerous events around the world. In some cases, the festival of la Francophonie has been spread out over a week or more. New York is hosting approximately forty cultural events throughout the month of March; a "Semaine de la Francophonie", including events ranging from film to karaoke is beieng held in Poland’s major cities; in Mexico, the "Primavera de la francofonia" (the Spring of la Francophonie) will last until June. This means that the voice of la Francophonie is making itself heard well beyond French-speaking countries. As proof of this, French is the dominant language used in only a small number of Member States of the International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF). According to the article, promoting the spread of the French language remains one of the Organization’s primary objectives, a campaign which long ago ceased being a rearguard battle against English and is now aimed at defending plurilingualism and cultural diversity.

According to Le Monde, “The key issue of the OIF is protecting cultural diversity. This campaign began in 1993 at the Mauritius Francophone Summit, when Member States joined the fight that France had been leading more or less alone until then. The cause has continued to gain followers well beyond La Francophonie. In 2004, La Francophonie submitted to UNESCO the need to arm the international community with a convention to protect cultural production and trade from being subjected solely to the laws of the market and exempt them from global trade liberalization measures. […] In its campaign, which IOF has primarily been leading against the United States, the organization has been joined by Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking groups, other countries in the Commonwealth besides Canada, such as India and English-speaking African countries, the entire European Union, where British and Spanish resistance has yielded, China and others. Both at UNESCO and in their bilateral relations, the United States’ fight against the draft Convention on Cultural Diversity has been as bitter as its battle against the International Criminal Court (ICC). Supporters aim to adopt the convention in the fall.” [05-07]

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Narrowing the digital divide between the North and South: “The Euro-Arab Dialogue and Cultural Diversity in Knowledge Societies”

La Presse de Tunis, édition du 27 mars 2005 – 2005/03/27

An international symposium was held March 24-26, 2005 in Tunis on “The Euro-Arab Dialogue and Cultural Diversity in Knowledge Societies”. The meeting aimed to highlight the need to encourage creativity, promote the Knowledge Society, preserve cultural and linguistic diversity, protect freedom of expression, and facilitate universal access to education. According to Jean-Pierre Boyer, Secretary-General of the French Commission for UNESCO, the symposium was dedicated to cultural diversity in knowledge societies, terms used by UNESCO, which promotes the notion of a “Knowledge Society” over the “Information Society”. “It stresses individuals, their values and the type of society they aspire to be, and the need to create societies that favour pluralism, integration, solidarity and participation.” The symposium, which is part of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), aimed to implement recommendations outlined in the action plan adopted in Geneva in December 2003 and prepare for the second phase of the summit, which will be held in Tunis in November 2005. It was also intended to establish areas for cooperation and foster the development of partnerships to implement concrete projects for promoting cultural and linguistic diversity in knowledge societies. Such diversity would be founded on shared thinking rooted in the exchange of knowledge and experience.

This action-oriented thinking is based on three main objectives: enhancing and preserving tangible and intangible cultural heritage through information and communication technologies; developing and protecting the creation, production and distribution of culturally and linguistically diversified content on the Internet; promoting cooperation among national commissions, organizations, and governmental and non-governmental institutions (civil society) working in the fields of education, science, culture and communication. At the end of the meeting, participants stressed the need to monitor the respect of cultural diversity and the right to be different. They also stated that cultural diversity plays an essential role in preserving the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of peoples and in increasing popular participation in decision-making. In this regard, they recommended the development of mechanisms to combine the market mentality and the need to safeguard areas for the creation and distribution of cultural expressions while respecting cultural diversity and identity, as well as expand the scope of dialogue and mutual comprehension. They also recommended continuing an analysis of legal and regulatory means of ensuring the proper distribution of works while respecting the rights of creators.

According to organizers, the international symposium was a joint project between the French and Tunisian Commissions for UNESCO, organized as part of the Euro-Arab dialogue introduced by the National Commissions of both regions and supported by UNESCO, ALECSO, ISESCO, the Council of Europe and Intergovernmental Agence of la Francophonie. The Euro-Arab dialogue on the topic of “learning to live together” was launched during the 46 th session of the International Conference on Education in 2001, initiated by the German and Tunisian Commissions for UNESCO. A working group made up of representatives from nine Arab National Commissions and nine European National Commissions was established and included Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Canada, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine. [05-07]

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