Vol. 6, no 14, Monday, April 24, 2006
Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions: The ratification phase is now underway!
Speech by Québec prime minister Jean Charest
Photo : Paul Ducharme
IN THIS ISSUE :
The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions has been adopted at the 33rd session of the General Conference last October 20, 2005 , by the UNESCO Member States. So that it may become effective, 30 States must ratify it.
So far, Canada has been the first State that has ratified this Convention. Just recently, the Director-General of UNESCO congratulated Mauritius to have in turn ratified this Convention (See the April 12th issue of our Bulletin).
Why must States ratify this Convention? To find out about it, consult the January 16th issue of our Bulletin
According to a release from the Government of the Republic of Mali, the Council of Ministers adopted last April 19 the draft treaty concerning the ratification of the 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 , by the UNESCO Member States
On the occasion of the launching of the 3rd World Festival of Negro Arts (FESMAN III) held from the 14 to April 16, 2007 in Saint-Louis in Senegal, cultural agents, artists, film makers and writers expressed hope that all African countries should ratify the UNESCO Convention on the diversity of cultural expressions before holding the Festival anticipated between June 1 and 21, 2007 in Senegal. They have notably asked the President of the African Union Commission, and the AU President in office to do everything possible for the ratification of the Convention by all African countries .
The call from these cultural professionals and agents, signed by distinguished men of culture, specifies moreover that six months after the adoption of this Convention, Burkina Faso and Senegal alone, among the 54 Member States of the African Union, have ratified the said Convention (NDLR: another source indicates that these two countries "are in the process of ratifying it", which, in the next weeks, will bring to 5 the number of countries having already ratified the Convention).
In the last issue of our Bulletin, we underlined the organization on April 19 and 20 à Dakar (Sénégal) of an international seminar in which African Ministers of Trade, Culture and Information , would participate to analyze the impact from policies and negotiations between the trade sector and the cultural sector. Studying subjects such as " Must cultural goods and services be treated like any ordinary merchandise? " or still "Should liberalization be extended to culture goods? ", the participants clearly reaffirmed notably that the preamble of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted on October 20, 2005 which stipulates that " cultural activities, goods and services have both an economic and a cultural nature, because they convey identities, values and meanings, and must therefore not be treated as solely having commercial value" . But, they insist, « it is because cultural goods and services assume a double nature, that the problem of their consideration as mere merchandise occurs with recurrence ».
In fact, the participants uphold that in order to face the legal gap noticed on these matters left unanswered by WTO, notably subsidies, protection and safeguard cultural goods and services , an approach was developed outside WTO which led to the adoption of the Convention on the diversity of cultural expressions . To that effect, they assert, the Convention recognizes to the States a sovereign right to adopt cultural policies, putting on equal terms trade and culture, notably through the clause which sets out that States recognize their engagement towards WTO in the other international agreements, but at the same time, acknowledge their right to adopt measures for protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions : «The attitude for states to demonstrate clearly is to choose the sectors where they may find interests to be liberalized while taking care to indicate on their lists the policies they wish to maintain ».
But, if the signatory States of this Convention have an appropriate framework to supremely apply their cultural policy and, to that effect, have the right to "design and implement policies fostering cultural development, as well as supporting culture industries production through incitement and regulation measures ", as estimated by the Senegalese Minister of Trade, Mr. Mamadou Diop, for the filmmaker Cheikh Gaïndo Bâ on the opposite, the struggle for the non liberalization cultural goods and services must not be simply limited à l'adoption de la Convention. On the contrary, he asserts, the ratification by the signatory States of this Convention must be a priority.
With this perspective in mind the Summit of Heads of States of the African Union (AU) had adopted on July 10, 2003, in Addis-Abeba, a Declaration which sets clear directions to African States, notably by urging these « to refrain from any liberalization commitment at WTO regarding cultural goods and services and this, in order not to jeopardize the efficiency of instruments aimed at promoting and supporting cultural diversity ».
However, the Senegalese Minister of Trade maintains that this Convention on the diversity of cultural expressions is the appropriate framework which must become the reference for any policy intended for cultural goods and services . At the end of this international seminar , the participants recommended notably that the ratification process of the Convention by the States be accelerated towards its implementation.
Sources (in French only):
A round table about African countries strategies on culture gathered in Brussels, Belgium, on April 21, the Observatory for Cultural Policies in Africa (OCPA) and its partners, among which, the African Union (AU), UNESCO, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) and the Bantu Civilization International Center (CICIBA), as well as the Danish Cooperation, Ford foundation and the Maputo African Heritage School (Mozambique).
According to OCPA, «culture industries can create an important prosperity in Africa that can further be reinvested in the continent's socio-economic development », underlines on that occasion its Executive Director, Mr. Lupwishi Mbuyamba. As a consequence, with the support of UNESCO, Ford foundation and AU, the OCPA ambitions to contribute towards the design and implementation of cultural strategies in Africa .
This OECD publication entitled: Culture and Local Development , published on December 2005, shows, from recent international case studies in 13 countries, how public policies can foster culture as a lever for local economic development in terms of partnerships, tax relief, and other innovative instruments. The book also sets out the implications for national governments in the fields of education and intellectual property rights.
This publication highlights the impact of culture on local economies and the methodological issues related to its identification. In particular, the book demonstrates that the contemporary contribution of culture to economic development is not only limited to attracting tourists, but that it increasingly acts as a catalyst for other activities to further develop through territorial clusters. It also demonstrates the power of culture as a tool for the social integration of distressed people and communities, thus contributing to sustainable development.
This volume from the collection Repères of La Découverte publishings presents the technical, industrial and commercial trends « of the new digital scene » under way, constantly evolving (changes in formats, supports or dissemination) by placing it within the present environment of technique, industry and commerce. This digital scene does not have to do with the field of the media alone but stands further as an enormous growth potential for such fields as data processing, electronics and telecommunications. Besides, it also offers keys to ongoing dynamics and strategies, from production to distribution, through the challenges linked to the regulation of digital communication and notably, the subjects raised by internationalization of regulations - facing the limits of national sectoral regulations; through the growing interdependency of the different fields; through intellectual and artistic property rights; and through competitiveness rights in such a context.
Philippe Chantepie, Head of the Department of Studies, Prospective and Statistics at the Ministry of Culture and Communication ( France ) is a lecturer in digital economy at Paris -I. Alain Le Diberder, former Program Director of Canal +, is the CEO of CLVE, a new media software development enterprise.