Vol. 6, no 26, Monday, August 14, 2006
Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions: The ratification phase is now underway!
The Québec Minister of Culture and Communications Line Beauchamp and the UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura
Speech by Québec prime minister Jean Charest
Photo : Paul Ducharme
The “Diversity of Cultural Expressions News” column returns with a bang after the summer break. Already, we are bringing to your attention a certain number of international forums, liable to have major effect on the subject of cultural diversity, which will be held during this fall.
Among others, the 52th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference of the XIth Summit of la Francophonie and its different preparatory meetings, of the 175th session of the UNESCO Executive Board, of the 3rd Meeting of the OAS Ministers of Culture, of the ACP Ministers of Culture Meeting, of the 9th Meeting of the INCP Ministers of Culture, of the 9th General Assembly of the Delegates of the Member Coalitions of the International Liaison Committee of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity. These major international gatherings will constitute as many occasions for the international community to promote the ratification of the Convention with the UNESCO Member States that have not yet done so.
This issue of the newsletter updates the follow-up of the ratification of the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and of the mobilization efforts, at the national as well as the international level, in order to promote the ratification of this Convention with UNESCO Member States
Have a good reading session!The Staff of the Secrétariat gouvernemental à la diversité culturelle
IN THIS ISSUE :
UNESCO has updated the list of the States that have deposited with the Director General their ratification, acceptance, approval or accession instrument of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. To Canada and Maurice have been added Mexico (July 5), Romania (July 20 ) and Monaco (July 31). (Source: UNESCO )
It must be underlined that a certain number of countries have already approved the principle of ratification of the Convention according to their domestic legislation and are about to officially deposit their ratification instrument with the Director General of UNESCO:
It must be recalled however that this Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions - adopted at the 33rd session of the General Conference last October 20, 2005 - may become effective, it will first have to be ratified by 30 UNESCO Member States. Prior to its entry into force, UNESCO declares that its action will be made of two stages, that is: increasing the awareness of the Member States on the stakes of the diversity of cultural expressions, and developing technical partnerships in view of the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, states the Organization
Why must States ratify this Convention? To find out about it, consult the January 16th issue of our Bulletin
At the end of a meeting between the Québec Prime Minister Jean Charest, and the President of the French Republic Jacques Chirac, which concluded the European tour that the Québec Prime Minister had undertaken in Paris on July 6 and which had also taken him in Austria and Germany, both Statesmen hoped for a wide ratification of the UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions that would free culture from the rules of commerce. Therefore, they agreed on "joining forces" to convince the countries that have supported the said Convention to ratify it promptly so that it may become effective rapidly.
Prime Minister Charest, further asserted that «every effort must be made to ratify it » because some countries will continue to oppose it. Regarding ratification, « it is not only a matter of thirty or so countries approving it, we request the largest possible number of them (…). Wherever I go, I systematically bring up this question », he insisted. Indeed, Mr. Charest considers that this Convention, to which were opposed at UNESCO but two countries: the United States and Israel, represents a "major victory for Québec", as a result of the "efforts conducted with the Canadian Federal Government and France" to mobilize supports throughout the world. "Today, adds Mr. Charest in an interview to Le Monde, the struggle lies in obtaining the implementation of this Convention", which must be ratified by about thirty countries before coming into force.
Following promulgation last July 5 of the law authorizing the adhesion of France to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the President of the French Republic Jacques Chirac determinedly committed himself to a vast mobilization in order to accelerate the number of ratifications of the UNESCO Convention. To that purpose, he sent on July 12 a series of letters concerning the ratification of this Convention to the President of the European Council, to the President of the European Commission, to the Director General of the UNESCO, to the Secretary General of the United Nations (UNO), and to the Secretary General of the International Organization of la Francophonie (IOF).
To the Director General of the UNESCO Koïchiro Matsuura, he informs him that taking into account the importance of this Convention, he has decided to proceed to its ratification by way of Parliament (National Assembly and Senate), and that the internal procedure has therefore been completed as far as France is concerned. He is hoping that France may, while respecting its European commitments, contribute to the imminent enforcement of this Convention that will bring about legal results. He insists notably that this Convention constitutes a major advance for the recognition in international law of the equal dignity of cultures and of the legitimacy of the measures adopted by States to support their cultural policies.
To the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, and to the President of the European Council Matti Vanhanen, Prime Minister of Finland, he informs them of the ratification of the Convention by France and asserts that he has asked his Government to notify the Secretariat General of the Council of the immediate achievement of these procedures France being in future able to deposit its ratification instruments at any moment. According to the President Chirac, it is essential that the European Commission, in the name of the European Community, as well as of the largest possible number of Member States may deposit together their Instruments of ratification as promptly as possible with UNESCO. In this respect, he maintains that "the Convention will bring about legal results, as moreover demonstrated by the adhesion of the European Community. Its entry into force is therefore necessary to allow the States that wish to do so, particularly those from the South, to refer to it in the conclusion of bilateral agreements. Many countries of the world thus expect a determined commitment on the part of the Europeans following their active role in the negotiation. Such is the case of the Francophone States that will meet at a Summit in Bucarest next September 28 and 29".
To the Secretary General of the International Organization of la Francophonie Abdou Diouf, he indicates that this Convention contains a mixed character, from the point of view of the European Union: "It commits community competencies and national competencies. At the community level, the ratification therefore must in principle gather The European Commission and a sufficient number of Member States, but not necessarily the whole of them ». Therefore, he has written to the President of the European Council and to the President of the European Commission to bring to their attention the international emergency of a entry into force of the Convention, while underlining the importance for the European Union and its Member States to be among the first to deposit at UNESCO their Instruments of ratification, which will not only allow the Convention to come into force but also Europe to be represented within its directing bodies. He further insisted upon the importance to rapidly move forward in this direction in the perspective of the Summit of la Francophonie in Bucharest and expressed hope that France should be in a position, while respecting its European commitments, to deposit its Instruments of ratification on the occasion of the said Summit.
On the occasion of two recent public declarations, Minister of Canadian Heritage Beverley Oda has strongly reaffirmed the commitment taken by her Government to see that the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions will come into force promptly, and that its ratification will be the broadest possible so that it may become a credible international legal instrument. In the Commons Chamber, the Minister declared that she will take advantage of her meetings with political leaders from other countries to incite their Governments to follow suit with Canada in the prompt ratification of the Convention.
Upon the 12th International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montréal, last June 6, Minister Oda, on the occasion of a speech delivered in her name by Mrs. Sylvie Boucher, Parliamentary Secretary of the Prime Minister Stephen Harper, recalled her Government’s firm intention to "promote the coming into effect of the Convention in time for the next UNESCO General Conference, that will take place in the fall of 2007". She notably stressed that reaching the minimum threshold of 30 ratifications is the necessary minimum, and not the ultimate objective: "A critical mass of countries will be required for the Convention to gain real weight", she asserted. In this regard, Canada will thrive "to secure an important majority of ratifications (…). I do maintain, unequivocally the intention of the present Government to work towards that goal, she indicated, adding that the Federal Government will continue to collaborate closely with the civil society and with the Provincial and the Territorial Governments to promote UNESCO Convention".
To the intention of Mr. Matsuura, Minister Oda showed that "UNESCO, as an Organization, has a role to play" through inciting the Member States to ratify the Convention, adding that "the Government of Canada will be happy to work with Mr. Matsuura and his Organization in order to promote with strength and determination the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions".