Cultural diversity

The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 6, no 32, Monday, September 25, 2006

Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions: The mobilization in order to promote its ratification is building growing momentum!

Suivi de la ratification de la Convention de l'UNESCO
10. Belarus
7. Djibouti
5. Monaco
1. Canada



 Why must States ratify the UNESCO Convention?

 Photo gallery


Convention Update

Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Cultural Policies and Measures – Best Practices

Convention Update

Why must States ratify this Convention?

The Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions will enter into force three months after the date of deposit of the thirtieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, but only with respect to those States or regional economic integration organizations that have deposited their respective instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession on or before that date.

To this day, Madagascar is the 11th country that has ratified and officially deposited last September 11 its instruments of ratification with the Director General of UNESCO, after Croatia (August 31), Togo (September 5) and Belarus (September 6). Thus, these countries join Canada, Mauritius, Mexico, Romania, Monaco, Bolivia and Djibouti, which are already Parties to the Convention (Source: UNESCO ).

Based on available information, seven (7) other States have already concluded their internal ratification processes and are expected to file their instruments with UNESCO in short order: Peru, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, France, Finland and Austria.

In addition, several other countries have their ratification processes well underway such as Belgium, Moldavia, the Popular Republic of Congo, Norway, Spain, Brazil, Chile, among other (source: Coalition Currents)

As we mentioned it in the last edition of our Bulletin, the distinction between ratification of the Convention and deposition of the relevant instruments with UNESCO is crucial: a member state is only deemed to be a State Party to the Convention when it has ratified and filed its documentation with UNESCO’s Paris headquarters. Moreover, there is a clear incentive for the UNESCO Member State to ratify early: those that do will be among the participants at the first Conference of Parties, which will elect the initial 18-member Intergovernmental Committee that will be charged with developing the operational mechanisms of the Convention. The Intergovernmental Committee members therefore stand to have a major role in setting the direction of the new Convention.

This is the reason why we must continue with the mobilization campaign, in order to promote the ratification of the Convention with the UNESCO Member States to reach the target of the 30-ratification threshold by the end of next June. If we reach this goal, the Convention
will enter into force through its first Conference of Parties at the time of the 34th UNESCO General Conference in October 2007.

Why must States ratify this Convention? To find out about it, consult the January 16th issue of our Bulletin

Top of page

Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

XIth Francophonie Summit and promotion of the ratification of the UNESCO Convention on the diversity of cultural expressions - 2006/09/25-29

Romania receives from September 25 to 29 the XI th Summit of la Francophonie (OIF) which will gather the 63 Heads of States and Governments of countries partaking French. Supreme body of la Francophonie , the Summit , held every two years, constitutes a major gathering for the orientations of the Francophone political action and cooperation. The Summit may be defined as a session of the Permanent Council of la Francophonie (September 25), proceeded by a meeting of the Ministerial Conference of la Francophonie (September 26), followed by the Conference of the Heads of States and Governments (September 28-29). In Bucharest , the Summit will bear on "Information technologies in education" , a theme which covers several important programs defined within the decennial strategic framework of la Francophonie and implemented by OIF and its operators.

It is worth noting that OIF is determined to maintain its mobilization in order to give its full meaning to the UNESCO Convention on the diversity of cultural expressions adopted on October 20, 2005. To that effect, within the proceedings of the 32th session of the Assemblée parlementaire de la francophonie (APF) were held from June 30 to July 3, 2006 in Rabat, Morocco, the Secretary-general of the International Organization of la Francophonie (OIF), Mr. Abdou Diouf,, was already making an "urgent and solemn plea" to all francophone elected representatives of the world so that "they may double their efforts in favour of a very prompt ratification of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions" . He was also demanding from those present there "to forward this call into their own countries as soon as they return and to gather all political forces as well as those of civil society around this great cause". According to Mr. Diouf, it was "crucial that as large a number as possible of the Member States have deposited their instrument of ratification (...) before the next Summit of Bucharest", being held this very week ( consult the July 10 th issue of our Bulletin - no 25)

During a press conference having to do with this XI th Summit, on September 5, the Secretary-general's Advisor and spokesman of OIF, Mr. Hugo Sada, indicated that "The Bucharest Summit would give a fresh boost to the ratification of the Convention on the part of many other countries".

We will return to this event in a coming issue.

Sources available in French only

Top of page

" It becomes urgent for the UNESCO Convention to come into effect in order to inscribe in international law the specific value of cultural goods and services " - 2006/09/15

"Cultural diversity : An emergency of our time"

The newspaper La Croix offers a special document to cultural diversity in its issue dated on September 15. The French Minister of Culture and Communication Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, in his article, declares that around the President of the French Republic and with the President of the European Commission, France mobilizes for the Member States and the European Union to be part of the first thirty members of UNESCO that will determine the orientation, the interpretation and the application of the Convention on the diversity of cultural expressions. To the minister, if ten or so States outside of European Union have already ratified this Convention, within the Union, France and Finland alone have already led conducted their ratification process according to their national law, as well as Spain, Autria and Sweden which have just completed theirs too, while Luxembourg and Malta are about to do so.

The minister asserts notably that « there is emergency in implementing this project eminently political in today's world ». In this respect, he declares : "In a world where every artistic expression must have freedom of a city, including, of course, the vast American culture , where 85 % of movie places are sold for movies produced in Hollywood, where 50 % of fictions shown on television in Europe come from America, where nine out of the ten most translated writers have English as their mother tongue, where 90 % out of the 6 000 languages listed by linguists are not represented on Internet, it becomes urgent for the UNESCO Convention to come into effect in order to inscribe in international law the specific value of cultural goods and services, which must not be submitted to market laws, as well as the sovereign right of States to take supporting measures for cultural activities".

"The action for the international cultural right"

According to Pierre Gueydier, responsible for cultural affairs at the Catholic University of Angers, if the adoption of the Convention has "allowed to lay this first stone of the international cultural right", "the benefits of this text still remain largely virtual since, to this day, it has been ratified by only a handful of States (.), while the number of thirty must be reached for the Convention come into effect". In his opinion, "one of the reasons is the constant opposition of the United States " who, after losing this fight of the adoption of the Convention during the last UNESCO General Conference on October 2005, "display bypass strategies. Thanks to the conclusion of bilateral trade agreements including the cultural sector, they are in a position to use blackmail on inferior countries in order for them to abandon their right to adopt policies protecting their national culture, especially in the cinema sector. Encouraged by the suspension at WTO of the Doha Round, they continue to negotiate at high speed such bilateral free trade agreements with at least fifteen or so countries".

"Internet, freedom under control"

In the same connexion, Louis Pouzin, projects d irector at Eurolinc ( Conférence Internet des langues européennes ), asserts that «the US meaning of culture is only a variety of merchandise. Therof the guerillas with some Europeans regarding cinema, radio or television. With Internet, the United States believe they hold the top trade weapon to spread their cultural commodity (.). The means of pressure from the super power allowing it to impose through its language a set of legal and commercial made to measure rules to ensure its supremacy : standards, certificates, personal data, security, contracts, finance ».

"Cultural diversity: The reality of the American patchwork"

On his part, James Cohen, professor at the University of Paris VII , concludes his article in this manner: "in spite of the cosmopolitan character of some large American cities and in spite of the ritual speech praising "diversity" (.), the real challenges of the cultural diversity remain to be taken in".

Read the entire document in La Croix , September 15th issue

Top of page

The ratification of the UNESCO Convention: a major stake for the Member States of European Union - 2006/09/18

In an article: Diversité culturelle: solos ou concert pour les pays européens ? published by Cineuropa , Chantal Gras asserts that the legal instruments a doption process for the ratification of the UNESCO Convention on the diversity of cultural expressions by the States follows its course. In the case of Belgium , « the French Community of Belgium published in August its parliamentary agreement decree to the Belgian Monitor but the other levels of authority implied (Regions) must still adopt it before the federal level may adopt it officially ». She further quotes Henri Benkoski, a Belgian Government expert, who underlines that « the fact that 2 important border countries of USA (which continue its undermining steps through bilateral agreements) should have ratified it as promptly ( Canada and Mexico , NDLR) holds a highly symbolic value».

She also brings our attention that a debate on strategy is under way within the European Union Member States: either let the Member States officially deposit at UNESCO their instruments of ratification the ones after the others in solo, or officially present tohether the 25 ratifications: « For the partisans of the "25 together", it means primarily showing a certain European cohesion and also reaching a truly significant threshold (.) from a political viewpoint with about 80 ratifications. If one should wait to reach all the signatures of the 25 Europeans, the defenders of the "solos" run the risk not to be within the 30 first ones, and therefore not to figure among the first General Assembly, which would be just as symbolically harmful for the exemplary image of a Europe that fought hard for this cultural diversity! To them, the present ratification by twenty or so countries is already positive because what prevails is that it be implemented as soon as possible». She concludes that a strategy will be adopted in this regard during the next European Ministers' Council responsible for the Audiovisual at the end of November.

Cineuropa , le site de référence du cinéma européen

Top of page

Cultural Policies and Measures – Best Practices

In the Service of Young People? Studies and Reflections on Media in the Digital Age - 2006/09/19

"In the Service of Young People? Studies and Reflections on Media in the Digital Age" is the title of a UNESCO supported publication that was recently launched by the Nordic Information Centre for Media and Communication Research - Nordicom of Göteborg University Sweden. T his new publication assembles contributions by researchers from different parts of the world in order to shed light upon issues of vital importance that arise when dealing with a subject such as "media in the service of young people". The first part of the book contains many articles which exhibit theoretical visions and empirical examples of what constitutes and what does not constitute media and media contents in the service of children and youth. The researchers also reflect on measures of how to improve young people's media situation in the digital age.

The second part of the publication presents different kinds of efforts at raising media and information/Internet literacy among young people, parents, media educators and media professionals through examples of activities, projects, resources, and best practices with a focus on children's and young people's own media production as one of the more effective means to raise their level of knowledge and awareness.

Top of page