Vol. 7, no 10, Monday, March 26, 2007
The Director-General of UNESCO announces his intention to convene the first Conference of Parties from June 18 to 20, 2007
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, 55 states had ratified the treaty. Recently Portugal 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.
On March 23, 2007, UNESCO director-general Koïchiro Matsuura held an information meeting with the permanent delegates regarding the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Cultural Expressions. In his opening speech, director-general Matsuura described the entry into effect of the Convention last March 18 as a source of great satisfaction for himself, UNESCO, and the entire international community. He later took the opportunity to provide a broad outline of the timetable he foresaw for Convention implementation.
He began by announcing his intention to convene the first Conference of Parties at UNESCO headquarters from June 18 to 20, 2007. Only Parties having deposited their ratification instruments with UNESCO before March 20, 2007 will be permitted to attend this first meeting as Parties with full voting rights, but Mr. Matsuura stressed that other states would be welcomed as observers. “Since its internal bylaws providing a specific definition of observer status have yet to be adopted—one of the first orders of business—I will also invite certain observers and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations who were involved in developing the Convention.” In his speech, Mr. Matsuura stated that one of the Conference of Parties’ duties will be to elect the 24 members of the Intergovernmental Committee. Acknowledging the still uneven geographical distribution of Member States, he stressed that balanced representation of all the world’s regions was a fundamental requirement for the successful implementation of the Convention’s goals of cooperation and solidarity. He further informed the audience that the first Conference of Parties’ would also be responsible for mandating the Intergovernmental Committee to draw up the operational guidelines for Convention implementation and for creating the International Fund for Cultural Diversity.
Mr. Matsuura added that the Intergovernmental Committee could hold its first meeting in December 2007, mentioning that the Committee would be tasked with giving effect to the spirit and letter of the Convention through the preparation of operational guidelines. He also stated that the Intergovernmental Committee must establish the terms and conditions of use of the International Fund for Cultural Diversity and determine the nature of the reports each party must submit every four years to UNESCO describing the steps taken to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions within its territory. Mr. Matsuura’s preliminary schedule also foresees a special session of the Intergovernmental Committee in May 2008 and a regular session in autumn 2008 followed, if necessary, by a second special session in February 2009. He believes that the second Conference of Parties could be held two years after the first in June 2009, in order to adopt all texts drafted by the Committee. In closing, he said that meetings of experts should be planned on specific subjects that require conceptual development or that come to the fore in debates. He stressed, however, that this preliminary schedule would be adjusted as actual work progressed and needs were identified.
On March 20, 2007 International Day of la Francophonie was celebrated under the theme “Vivre ensemble, différents.” The International Organization of La Francophonie noted that March 20 is a day for celebrating the French language in multiple ways. Last year, some 1,264 events took place in 113 countries. Secretary-general of La Francophonie Abou Diouf stated that this event gives the 200 million French speakers around the world the opportunity to celebrate their common language every year. “It’s also the perfect opportunity for La Francophonie to state its commitment to cultural diversity, as demonstrated by its strong support for the International Convention on Cultural Diversity, which was adopted by UNESCO in 2005 and came into force on March 18, 2007,” he added.
In Canada, minister for La Francophonie and official languages Josée Verner stated that “This day gives us an opportunity to celebrate our attachment to diversity and the richness of the French language and culture, as well as the values of peace, democracy, and respect for human rights, which unite the members of the International Organization of La Francophonie.”
In Québec, minister of international relations and minister responsible for La Francophonie Monique Gagnon-Tremblay declared that “International Day of La Francophonie helps reinforce the feeling of belonging to the international French-speaking community among Quebecers. It’s an opportunity for francophones everywhere to promote their identity by taking part in events organized for the day.” In her press release, Minister Gagnon-Tremblay stated that “the basis of La Francophonie is the rich linguistic heritage and cultural diversity that francophones wish to safeguard.” The minister further noted that “through its actions here and on the world stage, Québec helps promote the French language and defend a world vision grounded in cultural dialog and respect for the diversity of peoples.” Minister Gagnon-Tremblay also mentioned that as the cradle of French-speaking North America, Québec intended to play its role in La Francophonie to the fullest possible extent. “In keeping with that spirit, Québec will welcome the 12th Summit of la Francophonie in autumn 2008, on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Québec City,” added the minister.
The new edition of the biennial report of the International Organization of La Francophonie, entitled “La Francophonie dans le monde 2006-2007” (La Francophonie around the world 2006-2007) has been published by Les Éditions Nathan and is now available. The report describes the current state of the French language in the world and francophone realities in the realms of teaching, culture, communication, the economy, democracy, and the rule of law. At a press conference on March 13, 2007, Mr. Clément Duhaime, a director of the International Organization of La Francophonie, presented the new edition and Prof. Samir Marzouki, an expert in the field, outlined the major trends described in the new edition. “By crossing the threshold of 200 million French speakers worldwide, La Francophonie has demonstrated its vitality, which is in large part due to the demographic growth of the countries of Africa, where half the world’s francophones live and where the level of instruction of and in French is growing steadily. After a short period of decline, the renewed growth in the number of people learning French or studying in French has allowed the language to near the 110 million student mark.” For more information, visit the International Organization of La Francophonie website.
Africultures invites you to consult its special edition devoted entirely to the economy and cultural development of Africa. This report, produced in partnership with CulturesFrance, is in two sections. The first is a summary of the “Maintenant l'Afrique” meetings held in Paris in October 2006 and their pre-conference sectoral workshop reports. In the second experts, researchers, and professionals analyze and expound on issues related to the themes of the meetings, such as “cultural wealth and economic development”. To order a copy of this issue, visit the Africultures website.
Professor emeritus Ivan Bernier from the law faculty of Québec City, Canada’s Université Laval and Ms. Nathalie Latulippe, a lawyer for Québec’s Ministère de la Justice have collaborated on a document addressing the dispute resolution process inscribed in UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Cultural Expressions. Article 25 of the Convention contains clauses providing the opportunity for Parties in disagreement to appeal to a number of different dispute resolution processes. These processes include finding a solution through negotiation, coming to a consensus using good offices or third party mediation, and the possibility for either party to request that a board of conciliation be tasked with suggesting a resolution that both parties would have to examine in good faith. The document by Bernier and Latulippe is intended as a study of the dispute resolution process provided for by the Convention in light of the history and practical application of this procedure in existing international conventions. You can now consult this document on our website.
Settlement of disputes (Article 25)
On December 21, 2006, the Swiss Federal Council began consultations on ratification of the UNESCO conventions on cultural diversity and on intangible cultural heritage. Interested parties have until March 26, 2007, to send their comments to the Swiss Federal Office of Culture. In the March 2007 issue of its newsletter (UNESCO INFO), the Swiss National Commission for UNESCO provides readers with a link granting them access to items such as the statement it presented as part of the consultation process for the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. UNESCO INFO also contains information aimed at organizations and institutions interested in taking part in the consultations.
In May 2006, France created CulturesFrance, a new agency promoting French culture around the world. An article in the fourth quarter 2006 issue of Label France explains that the agency will focus on France’s extensive cultural network abroad, which includes 150 cultural centers and 220 branches of Alliance française. CulturesFrance is the result of the merger of Association française d'action artistique (AFAA), which was created a little over 80 years ago as a means of spurring cultural exchange initiatives, and Association pour la diffusion de la pensée française (ADPF), which was founded in 1945 to promote the French language and francophone cultures through the publication and distribution of works. According to the article in Label France, “As the heir of these two prestigious institutions, CulturesFrance will be active in a very broad range of fields, including the performing arts, film history, publishing, the visual arts, architecture, and cultural engineering.” To find out more, visit the CulturesFrance website.
In 2007, the city of Monterrey, Mexico will host the second “Universal Forum of Cultures.” In a press release marking the occasion, UNESCO states that it will once again be the Forum’s main partner. The press release also indicates that according to the “terms of an agreement between the Director-General and the Monterrey 2007 Foundation created by the federal government of Mexico, the state of Nuevo León, and the municipality of Monterrey, UNESCO will provide technical assistance for the Forum and will facilitate the attendance of international and non-governmental organizations.” The Forum will run from September 20 to December 8, 2007, on the grounds of Monterrey’s Parque Fundidora. The main themes will be cultural diversity, sustainable development, peace, and knowledge. The conferences, interactive exhibits and displays, shows, and multicultural experiences organized for this event are designed to encourage interaction between the public and artists, intellectuals, politicians, scientists, economists, and environmental protection experts from all regions. To find out more, visit the Monterey Forum 2007 website.