Cultural diversity

Newsletter
The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 7, no 35, Monday, October 29, 2007

Efforts to implement the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions are underway!

IN THIS ISSUE :

Convention Update

Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Recent Publications

Cultural Policies and Measures – Best Practices

Other News of Interest



Convention Update

Efforts to implement the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions are Underway!

UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions came into effect on Sunday, March 18, 2007. Implementation of the convention was kicked off with the first Conference of Parties to the Convention, held in Paris, France, from June 18 to 20, 2007.

At press time, 69 states had ratified the treaty. Efforts to implement the treaty are well underway, but 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.

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Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

UNESCO – Nine new members elected to World Heritage Committee

In an October 25, 2007 press release, UNESCO announced that nine new members have been elected to the 21 member World Heritage Committee in charge of implementing UNESCO’s Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

Australia , Bahrain, Barbados, Brazil, China, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, and Sweden were elected for four-year terms. UNESCO notes that the election took place during the general assembly of the 184 States Parties to the Convention, who meet every two years when their representatives come to UNESCO’s Paris headquarters to attend the organization’s general conference.

According to the press release, the new members elected to replace nine States Parties whose terms on the World Heritage Committee had expired were Benin, Chile, India, Japan, Kuwait, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, and the Netherlands.

The World Heritage Committee meets every year to add properties to the World Heritage List, which currently boasts 851 sites in 141 States Parties. The committee also reviews the state of conservation of listed properties and determines what should be done to safeguard them.

The General Assembly of the States Parties was opened by UNESCO director general Koïchiro Matsuura, who described world heritage as “one of UNESCO’s flagship activities.” He then invited Member States to work toward harmonious synergy among the organization’s three main legal instruments for cultural diversity: the 1972 World Heritage Convention, the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

The director general also emphasized plans to increase the role played by the UNESCO science sector in World Heritage Center operations, and assistant director general for natural science Walter Erdelen later spoke of “the need to develop the complementarity of science and culture, notably in the 80 sites which carry the twin labels of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program and world heritage.”

On the same subject, assistant director general for culture Françoise Rivière told States Parties of “the need to reinforce the link between biodiversity and cultural diversity and to improve interdisciplinarity” which, she pointed out, “already exists, notably when space technology is used to monitor the state of world heritage sites.”

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Message from the UNESCO director general on World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

In a message issued for World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, UNESCO director general Koïchiro Matsuura, noted that “audiovisual records—which is to say moving images and recorded sound—provide us with valuable entries into the past. They draw us into the collective dramas of our recent history, they allow us to experience, firsthand, how an art was practiced, they show us people going about their business in settings that may have changed vastly, and indeed going about business that may have changed just as much. They tell us a great deal about ourselves and others, where we have been, and what makes us what we are.”

The director general recalled that last year at the 33rd session of UNESCO's general conference, the Member States decided to declare October 27 World Day for Audiovisual Archives, noting that this heritage was testimony “to the economic, political, and social development, the evolution of education, scientific knowledge, and diversity of cultures of different nations and communities, as well as to the evolution of nature and the universe.” The drafters of this resolution, noted Mr. Matsuura, “were fully aware that these archives are extraordinarily fragile, and that the efforts to preserve them can be extremely costly, and not easily within the means of many countries.”

Developing the theme of fragility, the director general asserted that floods, fires, storms, and earthquakes can erase this heritage overnight. War, theft, and vandalism—or basic human negligence—have destroyed many collections and continue to do so. Humidity, heat, dust, and salt-laden atmospheres also play their part, and losses are caused by technical obsolescence as well as physical decay affecting not only old images and sound recordings, but also “new” digital media.

The UNESCO director general went on to note that “safeguarding audiovisual heritage is a very complex process requiring a range of legal, institutional, technical, and financial solutions. Not taking action will result in the loss of entire chapters of this heritage in less than ten years and lead to the irreparable impoverishment of human memory, culture, and identity.”

On the first-ever World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, Mr. Matsuura called upon governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector “to give audiovisual heritage the recognition it deserves, and more than that, the resources so essential to its preservation.” “Only by doing so will we be able to ensure that future generations can enjoy the legacy that is still within our grasp,” he concluded.

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Library and Archives Canada celebrates UNESCO's World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

Library and Archives Canada is inviting Canadians to celebrate World Day for Audiovisual Heritage on October 27.

According to the press release issued for the occasion, Library and Archives Canada (LAC), along with other audiovisual archives around the world, was invited to provide clips for a trailer film for UNESCO's annual general conference to be held on October 27 in Paris. The trailer follows the conference theme of “Planet Earth: From Place to Space” and will be screened throughout the conference, with a copy given to each delegate. The press release notes that LAC's contribution to the trailer includes clips of two early classic Canadian features: Back to God's Country (1919) and The Viking (1931), as well as a Canadian government travelog, Gem of the Rockies (1933).

“Imagine the thousands of stories to discover in Library and Archives Canada's collection, through film, sound recordings, music, and radio and television programs,” said Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. “These stories define who we are as Canadians; it is vital that we continue to preserve these key cultural records, not only for our own sense of identify and history, but for the benefit of future generations.”

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Recent Publications

“Bilateral Agreements and Cultural Diversity” newsletter

The October 9, 2007 edition of the “Bilateral Agreements and Cultural Diversity” newsletter is now available from the website of Centre d’études sur l’intégration et la mondialisation (CEIM) at Université du Québec à Montréal.

This issue looks at the following:

  • WTO: United States accuses China of violating intellectual property rights
  • Europe imposes intellectual property rights on ACP countries
  • The International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity is born
  • News
    • Europe rewards its cinema
    • Costa Rica says yes to the free trade agreement between Central America and the United States

This publication is available online (in French only). Have a look at it.

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All issues of the Oralidad journal now available in digital format from the “Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean”

All the issues of Oralidad, the Annual for the Rescue of Oral Traditions in Latin America and the Caribbean, are now available in digital format from the Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean. Oralidad, has been published since 1988 with funding from the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean. Prestigious researchers and outstanding writers from the region and around the world have published in the journal on topics relating to the rich oral and intangible heritage of Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Cultural Policies and Measures – Best Practices

International Organization of la Francophonie launches a French-language volunteer program

The International Organization of la Francophonie (OIF) has launched a French-language volunteer program. OIF notes that the pilot project designed to encourage south–south mobility will enable volunteers aged 21 to 35 to hone their skills while contributing to development initiatives.

French-language program volunteers have three areas to choose from:

  • Promoting and supporting the French language in a multilingual environment
  • Using information and communication technology as educational and cultural supports
  • Building local capacity in economic, social, and cultural development

The first call for applications to select 21 volunteers runs from October 24 to November 23, 2007. Young nationals from OIF-member countries who meet the eligibility criteria and are committed to the values of the French-language volunteer program are invited to apply according to the terms and conditions outlined by OIF. They can offer to put their skills to use for 12 months on projects for OIF, AUF (University Agency of the Francophonie), AIMF (Association internationale des Maires francophones), and partners of the Francophonie in nine different countries.

The French-language volunteer program is an OIF project for 2007–2009 suggested by the OIF secretary general and adopted by the 11th summit of francophone heads of state and government held in Bucharest in 2006. One of the OIF’s youth cooperation measures, it is jointly led by AUF and AIMF with plans to involve TV5, Université Senghor, and other partners from French-speaking countries.

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Other News of Interest

2007 Public Administration Award for Excellence from Institut d’administration publique de Québec

Every year, Institut d’administration publique de Québec (IAPQ) honors remarkable achievements in the public sector and pays tribute to the people behind them. Among the awards handed out, an achievement award will be given to a Québec public service organization that has come up with an innovation that has had a significant impact on clients.

For the 2007 edition, the IPAQ jury has shortlisted three Québec government ministries in the civil service category—Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine; Ministère des Relations internationales; and Ministère du Développement économique, de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation—for their outstanding collaboration throughout the campaign for the adoption of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The ministries were involved in both drawing up and promoting the treaty.

The winners will be revealed at a gala on November 14, 2007, at the Québec City Convention Centre, Canada.

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