Vol. 7, no 1, Monday, January 22, 2007
The Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions will come into effect on March 18, 2007
The Secrétariat gouvernemental à la diversité culturelle team offers its best wishes for 2007 to the loyal s ubscribers and readers of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions News Bulletin. Thank you for sharing 2006 with us!
The Diversity of Cultural Expressions News Bulletin is back, allowing you to follow the Convention ratification process and learn about the latest developments in the field of cultural diversity. Throughout 2007, we will continue to keep you informed of this process, which will culminate in the implementation of the Convention that UNESCO Member States have sought. We will also continue our practice of following any event or news story that may have a bearing on the objectives and principles of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. We will also continue examining developments in cultural policies and reporting on examples of good practices in the field as they happen.
We would also like to announce that the editor of the Bulletin for the last three years, Mr. Victor Dzomo-Silinou, will be leaving the Secretariat to occupy a new position. We offer him our sincere thanks for all the excellent work he has accomplished and we wish him the best of luck. Rest assured that we will devote all our efforts to maintaining the high standard of quality set by Mr. Dzomo-Silinou for our Bulletin.
The Secrétariat gouvernemental à la diversité culturelle Team
IN THIS ISSUE :
The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions—adopted at the 33rd General Conference on October 20, 2005—recently reached and surpassed the 30 ratifications required for it to come into effect.
On December 18, 2006, the European Community and 13 of its Member States ( Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden) deposited their ratification instruments at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
Since then other ratifications have followed. Four other states ( Cyprus, South Africa, Ireland, and Greece) have also deposited their ratification instruments, bringing the total number of states that are currently party to this Convention to 39.
The Convention will therefore come into effect on March 18, 2007—3 months after the date on which the 30th ratification instrument was deposited and roughly 17 months after it was adopted.
We applaud this remarkable success, the result of a broad and determined campaign to see the Convention ratified that has garnered the support of heads of state and governments of leading countries around the world, leaders of international institutions and non-governmental agencies, ministers of culture and foreign affairs, government officials involved in the issue, and representatives of cultural communities and civil society.
However, ongoing efforts to have the Convention ratified by the remaining Member States must persuasively and energetically continue because the legitimacy of the Convention will be proportional to the number of countries from all regions of the world that ratify it, accept it, approve it, and adhere to it.
The success of this ratification campaign poses new challenges, and we must now consider more attentively the importance of preparing for the implementation of the Convention!
For more information, please consult this edition of the Bulletin.
In Brussels on December 19, 2006, the European Commission held a ceremony to celebrate the ratification of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions by the European Community and 13 of its Member States. In a speech delivered for the occasion, UNESCO director-general Koïchiro Matsuura stated that this commitment on the part of the European Community meant that the 30 ratifications required for the Convention to come into effect had been reached and surpassed. “The Convention will come into effect on March 18, and I will do everything possible to ensure that the first Assembly of Member States takes place as soon as possible thereafter.” After reminding the parties that by signing the 2005 Convention they were committed to a legal and operational procedure involving many actors, Mr. Matsuura declared, “It is my hope that we will continue to collectively meet this common responsibility, which consists of placing cultural diversity—the cornerstone of communal harmony—at the forefront of our political agendas.”
In a press release dated December 19, 2006 , the European Commission welcomed the ratification of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression. Mr. Ján Figel, European Commissioner for Education and Culture said: “These ratifications by the Community and the Member States are a clear sign of the EU’s commitment to cultural diversity, both within the EU and at an international level.” The European Commission was keen to stress that “this convention forms the basis of a new pillar of world governance in cultural matters. Its ratification paves the way for enhanced cultural cooperation at the international level, notably through exchanges of views and best practices in public policies to promote cultural diversity.”
In a press release dated December 19, 2006, the French culture and communications minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres said: “The ratification of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression by the European Commission and Member States, including France, is an historical and decisive step forward for preserving cultural identities and stimulating creativity.” The minister was pleased “that Europe has shown the way forward and that this international convention now coming into force will allow culture to grow not only in Europe, but throughout the world.”
In a separate statement, the French culture and communications minister stressed that “the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression will provide a legal framework across Member States for the defence and promotion of local cultural identities.”
The secretary-general of the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF), Abdou Diouf, has hailed the pioneering role played by the Francophonie in the process that led to the speedy ratification of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression. “It’s a giant leap forward for member states and governments belonging to the Francophonie, especially for artists, cultural institutions, and industries in the southern hemisphere,” he stated in a press release. The secretary-general noted that “this text proves that culture is not a mere commodity. The convention must now encourage Member States to come up with and implement ambitious cultural policies, notably by way of increased international cooperation.”
In a joint press release dated December 18, 2006, Québec’s minister of culture and communications, Line Beauchamp; minister of international relations, Monique Gagnon-Tremblay; and minister of economic development, innovation, and export trade, Raymond Bachand, applauded the deposit of the 30th ratification instrument of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions with UNESCO.
Minister of culture and communications Line Beauchamp stated that “The Convention’s entry into force represents a very important step for Québec and for its artists, institutions, and cultural industries in particular. The provisions of this treaty guarantee that the government of Québec can continue to implement and expand policies and programs that encourage the growth of its culture and identity.”
Minister of international relations Monique Gagnon-Tremblay added, “This is a great victory for Québec, who was present at every step in the negotiations surrounding the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The diplomatic campaign that we carried out allowed us to engage in a very fruitful dialog with our partners around the world, and especially in Europe, Africa, and within the International Organization of the Francophonie.”
In an open letter to the media, all three ministers reiterated that with every new ratification, the principles embodied by the Convention will gain in legitimacy and recognition. Therefore, “The Government of Québec intends to continue its diplomatic efforts aimed at encouraging as many countries as possible to ratify the Convention.” The ministers also stated that another challenge was “starting a dialog with all our partners, both at home and abroad, on issues relating to Convention implementation.”
The Government of Canada also applauded the fact that the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions would soon come into effect. In a press release dated December 18, 2006, Canadian heritage and status of women minister Beverley J. Oda stated, “This Convention is very important for our artists and creators, for all of us as Canadian citizens, as well as for everyone who is committed to cultural diversity. It will enable us to ensure the free expression of our ideas, our history, and our experiences, while at the same time guaranteeing that these will be communicated to future generations.” The press release also stipulated that “While we will dedicate ourselves to addressing issues related to the entering into force of the Convention, Canada’s New Government will continue to encourage as many countries as possible to officially recognize the importance of cultural diversity by ratifying this important international treaty.”
To mark this turning point, Scott McIntyre and Solange Drouin, interim co-presidents of Canada’s Coalition for Cultural Diversity, drew attention to the exceptional contributions of the governments of Québec and Canada and to their fast and efficient ratification campaign for the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which is still underway. In a press release, Mr. McIntyre declared, “On behalf of the 38 cultural organizations that are members of the Canadian Coalition, I would like to express how proud I am that Canada was the first country in the world to ratify the Convention in December 2005. I would also like to thank Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of Canadian Heritage Beverley Oda for their determination in vigorously pursuing this campaign to ensure the Convention’s ratification and for their unwavering support of the Coalition’s work.” Ms. Drouin applauded the decisive role played by the Government of Québec at every step of the process leading to ratification of the Convention by the first 35 countries. “I would like to convey the gratitude of all our Coalition members to Premier Jean Charest, Culture and Communications Minister Line Beauchamp, International Relations Minister Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, and Minister of Economic Development, Innovation, and Export Trade Raymond Bachand,” she added.
According to the press release, the international movement of coalitions will, as of this month, continue its information and mobilization campaign with the aim of reaching at least 100 ratifications over the next two years and ensuring more balanced representation of all the world’s great regions and subregions and all its linguistic groupings in all countries that have ratified the Convention. The same press release states that the Coalition also intends to take part in the Convention implementation process.
The study entitled Implementing the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions—Future Actions, carried out in 2006 by consultant Ivan Bernier in collaboration with Hélène Ruiz Fabri, was translated into German by the German Commission for UNESCO. You can find this version on our website.