Vol. 7, no 15, Monday, May 14, 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. 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 May 10, 2007, the Québec National Assembly passed a motion congratulating Nicolas Sarkozy on being elected president of France. During discussions leading to the passage of this motion, Québec Premier Jean Charest also thanked President Jacques Chirac. “He contributed greatly to the success of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. It would not have been possible without him.” Charest declared that the adoption of the Convention represented the greatest victory of Québec diplomacy. “This victory would not have been possible without the support of France and of President Chirac, in particular, and it is a testament to the importance of the relationship between Québec and France,” he added.
French minister of culture and communications Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres addressed the cabinet regarding the cultural equality of French citizens. In his speech, the minister stated that “thanks to France’s commitment, cultural diversity has become a pillar of our cultural policy, as well as a new and universally recognized principle of international law with the coming into effect of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions on March 18.”
Donnedieu de Vabres also declared, “The cultural equality of French citizens is the other principle with which we will recast our cultural policy, in response to the new wishes of all French citizens—that culture no longer be a divisive, partisan issue in public debate. This is the objective of policies created to ensure the cultural equality of French citizens by opening heritage sites to the public, developing our cultural assets, and ensuring strong cooperation between ministries.”
To read the full text of the speech, visit the French Ministry of Culture and Communications website by clicking here.
UNESCO has just announced the first 2007 update of the Index Translationum. This update features some 32,000 new entries provided by bibliography centers or national libraries in participating countries concerning translated books in all fields of knowledge. These countries include Albania (books published in 2004 and 2005), Belgium (1984–1988 and 1993–2002), Canada (2005), Cyprus (2005), Côte d’Ivoire (various years), Cuba (2005), France (2005), Hungary (2005), Norway (2005), the Philippines (2003–2005), Poland (2005), and Tunisia (various years).
The Index Translationum is a list of books that have been translated around the world. The database contains cumulative bibliographical information on books translated and published in about one hundred of the UNESCO member states since 1979 and totaling more than 1,700,000 entries in disciplines including literature, social and human sciences, natural and exact sciences, art, history, and others. Updates are planned for every four months. Periodicals, articles from periodicals, patents, and brochures are not included in the database.
According to the most recent UNESCO statistics, approximately 5,000 languages, not including dialects, are spoken around the world. The Index Translationum allows users to take advantage of this vast linguistic heritage that reflects the diversity of human culture. To learn more, visit the section of the UNESCO website that is dedicated to the Index Translationum by clicking here.
On May 10, 2007, the European Commission adopted a policy statement on the role of culture in a globalizing world. It suggests the first-ever European strategy for culture. The statement affirms the central role of culture in the process of European integration and suggests a cultural agenda for Europe and its relations with third world countries. The press release distributed on this occasion explains that the new policy stance, entitled “A European agenda for culture in a globalizing world,” takes the form of a Commission Communication and is complemented by an accompanying Staff Working Paper that describes the many ways in which the European Union supports culture. These documents were prepared following extensive public consultations with stakeholders.
According to the press release, “the policy statement presents three major objectives that together form a cultural strategy for the European institutions, the member states, and the cultural and creative sector: 1. Promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue; 2. Promotion of culture as a catalyst for creativity in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy; and 3. Promotion of culture as a vital element in the Union’s international relations.”
The communication “proposes measures to make culture an even stronger part of political dialog with partner countries and regions around the world, promoting cultural exchanges and systematically integrating culture in development programs and projects. In order to support specific actions in ACP countries [African, Caribbean, and Pacific States], the European Commission is proposing to create an EU-ACP Cultural Fund as a joint European contribution to supporting the distribution—and in some cases the production—of ACP cultural goods.” According to the European Commission, this Fund will encourage the emergence of local markets and industries and will increase the access of ACP cultural goods to European markets. The press release explains that the European Commission proposes to allocate a Community contribution to the fund of about EUR 30 million for the period 2007–2013 and invites member states to contribute additional funding.
The press release adds that the new policy direction also suggests the introduction of a more structured system of cooperation among member states and the EU institutions on cultural matters. It is also expected that “this communication will seek to involve the cultural sector—ranging from individual artists and performers to the creative and cultural industries—more closely in European affairs. It therefore seeks to introduce improved structures for dialog and partnership with these stakeholders through a new ‘Cultural Forum.’”
Lastly, the press release explains that the European strategy for culture will be complemented by other actions by the EU in the area of culture, such as the forthcoming European Year for Intercultural Dialogue 2008. For more information on this new strategy, visit the European Commission website.
The fifth International Congress on Culture and Development will be held June 11 to 14, 2007, at the Havana International Conference Center in Cuba under the theme “Defending Cultural Diversity.” The objectives of this event are to encourage reflection, debate, and the sharing of ideas on the recognition of cultural plurality and the diversity of its expressions, the culture of resistance, cultural processes, and development in a globalized world that urgently needs to preserve its cultures. The event is also aimed at promoting analysis of the role of cultural industries, technological changes, cultural services, and product marketing; encouraging the sharing of ideas and projects to foster human creativity in response to current challenges; promoting the search for common trends; and coordinating strategies and projects to foster cultural development through cooperation. For more information, please visit the Congress website (available in Spanish, English, and French).
The fourth Federal Meeting for Cultural Policies will be held June 7 and 8, 2007, in Berlin, Germany, under the theme “culture.makes.europe – europe.makes.culture.” The meeting is organized by Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft e.V. and the Federal Central Office for Political Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung) in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
Two workshops held during the conference will specifically address the issue of cultural diversity. On Thursday, June 7, the first panel will tackle the issue from the point of view of “ Europe as a Cultural Power. How Does Europe Make Use of the Opportunities of its Cultural Diversity?” The theme of cultural diversity will also be addressed the following day in a panel entitled “Culture and Business—The Same Struggle? European Cultural Diversity and Global Players.” For more information on event themes and workshops, click here.