Vol. 7, no 17, Monday, May 28, 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, 59 states had ratified the treaty. 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.
An experts meeting on the theme “Towards the Integration of the Principles of Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialog in Sustainable Development Policies” was held at UNESCO headquarters May 21 to 23, 2007. The meeting, organized by UNESCO in collaboration with the Arab League Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organization (ALECSO), sought to translate into concrete policies the principles of cultural diversity and intercultural dialog after a critical analysis of the vocabulary used by the intellectual community and the political world.
On May 21, 2007, on the occasion of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, UNESCO director-general Koïchiro Matsuura gave a speech to open the meeting. He began by thanking ALECSO director-general Mongi Bousnina, with whom UNESCO has been working closely for many years. Mr. Matsuura also thanked the various experts from government and non-government organizations for generously agreeing to take part in the meeting.
“Today, the international community must agree on a vocabulary and an innovative method that places the principles of cultural diversity and dialog at the heart of sustainable development,” declared Mr. Matsuura. “That is what UNESCO has worked to achieve within the framework of the United Nations, in particular through the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001),” he continued. “In fact, all the work accomplished by UNESCO in this field since its inception, and the seven international conventions on the protection and promotion of cultural diversity in its many manifestations this has made it possible to adopt, provides compelling proof today that cultures are not closed and inward-looking.”
According to Matsuura, “the issue of terminology is important because, ultimately, it speaks to and underpins our entire concept of cultural diversity. It also speaks to our ability to convince individual states and all of the United Nations and its development agencies of the important role of culture, cultural exchange, and intercultural dialog in the emergence of a development model that is truly sustainable.” To meet these challenges, he added, certain action strategies had already been set out. Mr. Matsuura cited the example of actions and/or positions ensuing from the 2001 United Nations global agenda for a dialog between civilizations, the Report of the High-Level Group of the Alliance of Civilizations published in the fall of 2006, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in 2002 in Johannesburg.
On the same topic, Mr. Matsuura added that “all throughout recent years, UNESCO has, through a cross-sector and multidisciplinary approach, placed greater emphasis on cultural dialog, quality education, the revision of schoolbooks, and the promotion of cultural, linguistic, and religious diversity, which led to the development and adoption by our organization’s Executive Council of an action plan to promote dialog between peoples in 2006. Without a doubt, it is now time to articulate these various initiatives, clarify the concepts used, and bring consistency to our thinking. Indeed, this is the very issue being discussed today. I am pleased to note that the issues of terminology and practical and concrete policies will also be addressed,” stated Matsuura.
In closing, Matsuura declared that “UNESCO is more aware than ever of the links between cultural diversity, intercultural dialog, and sustainable development (…) and has a very major responsibility in this regard. We must give ourselves the means to reconcile universal rights with the diversity of the human condition in the new reality created by globalization. I will therefore be following your discussions with great interest. I am sure they will measure up to these issues.”
The texts and results of the international conference on the theme “Cultural Diversity – Europe's Wealth. Bringing the UNESCO Convention to Life,” held in Essen, Germany, April 26 to 28, 2007, are now available on the German Commission for UNESCO’s website.
During this conference, 450 participants from 60 countries from all continents met to discuss the implementation of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. This event was organized by the German Commission for UNESCO in cooperation with the European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010 office in Essen and sponsored by the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes) with the support of the State Government of North-Rhine Westphalia, the German Federal Foreign Office, and the European Commission.
Representatives of UNESCO; the European Council; government representatives from the 27 EU Member States as well as from other, non-European states; artists; persons otherwise engaged in the cultural sector; and representatives of civil society gathered in eight thematic forums (film, music, state and society, north-south cooperation, media, education, public awareness, and Forum U 40) and four plenary sessions in order to debate the main priorities of the process of implementing the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity. In addition, the guests of the conference seized the opportunity to exchange their ideas beyond the conference program and to create new networks.
The World Language Documentation Center (WLDC), which comprises world-renowned experts in language technologies, linguistics, terminology standardization, and localization, was officially launched on May 9, 2007 at the offices of UNESCO in Paris ( France).
One of the goals of the WLDC is the promotion of multilingualism in cyberspace and the maintenance and sustainability of the wealth of information about the languages of the world. Regarding this subject, UNESCO states that “developed countries may think of the Web as ubiquitous, but there is a distinct lack of content in a majority of the world's languages. The predominance of use of the English language in readable Web content is gradually being suppressed, but as a variety of studies have demonstrated, the Web does not present a reliable surrogate for the use of languages in the world.”
UNESCO mentions that in a number of cases, this is because the capacity for representing these languages and the variety within these languages is lacking, adding that “the launch of a World Center is due, in part, to a significant expansion to a series of international standards that are fundamental to a number of information systems and the need to encapsulate a broad range of linguistic and technical expertise.”
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Last May 23, the 2007 Cannes Films Festival dedicated a day of its "Tous les Cinémas du monde" program to Africa. According to information appearing on the festival website, the Federation of African Filmmakers (FEPACI) was present and declared that “FEPACI resolves to encourage the governments of African states to ratify the UNESCO convention on preserving cultural diversity” and that it would “set up an assistance fund to foster and promote inter-African co-productions.” The Federation of African Filmmakers is an organization tasked with encouraging African states and international institutions to put in place cultural policies that support national, regional, and inter-African film industries.
UNESCO and the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) of India invite audiovisual directors and filmmakers to submit their latest productions to The Open Frame: The International Festival & Forum on Public Service Broadcasting, to be held in New Delhi, India, August 24 to 30, 2007.
The forum will screen documentaries, short fiction films, and television programs that are innovative (in form or content), creative, or challenging, or that go beyond conventional forms of television language, as well as a genuine expression of different cultures in the world.
Click here for production registration forms and terms and conditions.
DVDs and registration forms must reach UNESCO by June 15, 2007.
Launched in 2002, this yearly festival aims to promote the expression of cultural and linguistic diversity through the audiovisual language, by encouraging the showcasing and distribution of diversified media content from all regions of the world.
For more information on the Forum, contact : firstname.lastname@example.org