Vol. 7, no 12, Monday, April 23, 2007
The Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions
IN THIS ISSUE :
UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions came into effect on Sunday, March 18, 2007. At press time, 57 states had ratified the treaty. On March 16, 2007, Ivory Coast deposited its ratification instruments with UNESCO, thereby joining the ranks of Member States to the Convention.
More than ever, the mobilization campaign to encourage Member States who haven’t already done so to ratify the treaty must continue with commitment and conviction. The Convention’s legitimacy will be directly proportional to the number of countries from all parts of the world that ratify, accept, approve, or join the treaty.
A general election took place in Québec on March 26, 2007, following which Québec premier Jean Charest announced his new cabinet on April 18. As several departments are involved in the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, we invite you to take note of the ministers assigned to the following three portfolios:
Raymond Bachand was appointed Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Research, while Monique Gagnon-Tremblay was appointed Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie. Ms. Gagnon Tremblay has held the post since 2003, while Mr. Bachand, who was also named Minister of Tourism, has headed up Ministère du Développement économique, de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation since February 2006.
The premier also announced the appointment of Christine St-Pierre to the post of Minister of Culture, Communications and the Status of Women. In announcing the appointment, Premier Charest was clear about the role he intended the new minister to assume as regards the Convention. “As Minister of Culture and Communications and Minister for the Status of Women,” he declared, “you are responsible for implementation of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.”
First elected in the March 26 election, Ms. St-Pierre was for many years a correspondent with Société Radio-Canada, having worked as a researcher, documentalist, and reporter for various radio and television stations in Montréal, Québec City, and Moncton. From 1992 to 1997, she was a parliamentary correspondent in Québec City, then in Ottawa from 1997 until 2001. She then became a Washington correspondent until 2005, before reassuming the post of parliamentary correspondent in Ottawa.
April 23, 2007 was the twelfth annual World Book and Copyright Day. In a recently published message, UNESCO director-general Koïchiro Matsuura invited “all countries and UNESCO’s partners and friends to join us and contribute to this important event, which places the key issues of quality, pluralism and integration, together with the sharing of knowledge and its dissemination, at the very heart of the project to promote knowledge societies”
In his message, Mr. Matsuura noted that, since World Book and Copyright Day was first celebrated in 1996, it had provided opportunities for countless people from cultures all over the world to consider the vital multiple roles that books play in the educational, cultural, and economic fabric of our societies. “The linguistic dimension of publishing, an instrument of expression that lives through language and within a language, has also been emphasized,” he continued. Noting that there could be no book development without copyright, Mr Matsuura took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of the moral and heritage protection afforded to works of the mind and their authors.
Concerning the question of cultural diversity, we draw your attention to a passage from Mr. Matsuura’s address in which he declares that “This year, more than ever, I wish to emphasize the complementarity of all these aspects and highlight their importance with regard to freedom of expression and the safeguarding and promotion of expressions of cultural diversity, which are major issues for humanity.” We invite you to read Mr. Matsuura’s remarks by clicking on this link.
The UNESCO World Heritage Centre has just announced the publication of a study entitled World Heritage: Challenges for the Millennium. Under the direction of Francesco Bandarin, director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the publication provides an overview and analysis of more than three decades of implementation of the World Heritage Convention, highlighting a number of its successes as well as the challenges it has faced. The study includes a history of the 1972 Convention and its implementation, an analysis of the world’s natural and cultural diversity included in the World Heritage List, and a look at the state of conservation of World Heritage Sites. The collaboration of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, based in Montreal, Canada, has made it possible to include statistical data on many aspects of the Convention. The fruit of the collective efforts of many partners and specialists, this work was made possible by a grant from the Italian government.
In his forward to the study, UNESCO director-general Koïchiro Matsuura declares “In the sixty years since its foundation, UNESCO has developed a body of international standard-setting instruments for the safeguarding of the world’s creative diversity. UNESCO’s conventions, declarations and recommendations cover all aspects of tangible and intangible cultural heritage: from objects and museums to intellectual property, contemporary cultural expressions and living traditions. . . . Collectively these instruments form a network of legal tools designed to support Member States in their efforts to protect heritage and creativity in all regions of the world.” He also observed that “three of these instruments—the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions—constitute a common foundation for the preservation and promotion of that essential component of sustainable development: cultural diversity.” This publication is available in English or French.
The launch of the Fribourg Declaration on Cultural Rights will be held May 7, 2007, at the University of Fribourg and May 8, 2007, at Palais des Nations in Geneva. In the April 2007 edition of its UNESCO INFO newsletter (No. 59), the Swiss Commission for UNESCO wrote, “After 20 years of work by an international group of experts and observers brought together in the University of Fribourg’s Observatory of Diversity and Cultural Rights, with ties to Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and UNESCO, the Declaration has catalyzed a major movement to promote, analyze, and advocate the protection of diversity and cultural rights within the human rights system.”
Regarding the diversity of cultural expressions, the first preamble of the Declaration on Cultural Rights evokes a number of relevant universal and regional instruments, including the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. Further on, the fourth preamble affirms that “cultural diversity cannot be truly protected without the effective implementation of cultural rights.” For more information on the principal stages of and contributors to the Fribourg Declaration, and to read the complete text (in English, French, Spanish, or Arabic) click here.