Vol. 8, no 36, Monday, November 3, 2008
Efforts to implement the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions are underway!
IN THIS ISSUE :
At the first Conference of Parties to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the Intergovernmental Committee was tasked with developing operational directives for Convention implementation. The Committee held a regular meeting in Ottawa, Canada from December 10 to 13, 2007, and an extraordinary session in Paris, France from June 24 to 27, 2008. Other meetings will be held before the next Conference of Parties, slated for June 2009 in Paris.
At press time, 92 states had ratified the treaty. On October 14, 2008, Burundi deposited its ratification instrument with UNESCO, thereby joining the ranks of Member States to the Convention.
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.
The UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage was held on October 27, 2008, “a day for reflecting on the power of film, television, and radio to transmit ideas and information and in so doing to nurture dialogue among and between communities around the world.”
For the occasion, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura delivered a message on the theme of "Audiovisual Heritage as a Witness of Cultural Identity."
Mr. Matsuura opened his speech by stating that “While heritage permits us to understand the past, it also reflects the cultural identities and diversity of communities living today, with audiovisual heritage, in particular, being a primary means for contemporary societies to portray their values and express their creativity.”
In 2008, the International Year of Languages, stated Mr. Matsuura, “the development of local television and radio content, as well as the ability to access different cultures and perspectives through national and international channels are particularly important in this regard as they further enrich global diversity and open paths to dialogue, but while the role of audiovisual records in bridging gaps is indisputable, the format is intrinsically fragile and their disappearance would mean the loss of a significant portion of our global heritage, along with the memory and identity of the people it depicts. […] It was in part this fragility that led the 33rd session of UNESCO’s General Conference to declare a World Day for Audiovisual Heritage.”
“Preservation of heritage entails major efforts where printed and written documents are concerned, but,” said Mr. Matsuura, “audiovisual records are far more endangered—and on a larger scale—than conventional carriers.” Mr. Matsuura also stated that their preservation is affected by factors as diverse as the spontaneous ignition of nitrate films or the vinegar syndrome of acetate film, bacterial or fungal infestations, color fading or sound deterioration, sticky tape syndrome or demagnetization and technical obsolescence, as well as lack of legislation and training curricula for professional or technical staff.
The Director-General continued by stating, “Consequently, there is an urgent need not only for greater awareness of these issues, but also for the allocation of the human and financial resources for preservation so that future generations may benefit from the legacies of the past. Without concerted action, this heritage is doomed, and with it, the existence of some indigenous communities whose voices now live on only through audiovisual recordings made before their world vanished.”
In closing, Mr. Matsuura declared, “On this, the second World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, I call upon UNESCO’s partners and friends: governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector to work with us to ensure that audiovisual heritage receives the recognition it deserves both as a witness of cultural identity and a custodian of the world’s cultural and linguistic diversity.”
For the full text of Mr. Matsuura’s message, visit the UNESCO website
“Arènes européennes de l’indépendance: cultural SMEs in Europe” took place on October 23 and 24, 2008, in Paris. The project, initiated by France’s Minister of Culture and Communication, was organized by Culturesfrance in partnership with Impala (a European association of independent music labels) as part of the European Cultural Season.
In an article written for the occasion, the Ministry of Culture and Communication stated “In the midst of the current digital revolution and the questioning of the copyright system, we must work with local authorities to defend cultural diversity through the actions of independent professionals in the music, book, and film sectors.”
According to the article, the two-day event included workshops geared towards “gauging the size of the challenge and making concrete suggestions.” The article further states that workshops, screenings, and concerts brought together several hundred cultural professionals form across Europe, including writers, composers, performance artists, producers, broadcasters, heads of very small, small, and medium-sized businesses, and others around the theme of cultural diversity.
On October 23, in her inaugural speech, French Minister of Culture and Communications Christine Albanel paid homage to “the essential role played by independent artists in our cultural life,” adding that “SMEs are not only pillars of cultural diversity, they are also engines of economic growth.” Minister Albanel continued by stating, “This event should tell us how we can make sure cultural SMEs have the tools they need to play their dual economic and creative roles.” In closing, Albanel stated that “for the last 18 months, the ministry has carried out two major transversal actions regarding all aspects of culture: the fight for a reduced VAT rate applicable to all cultural goods and services, and the fight against the pirating of work on digital networks.”
The full version of Minister Albanel’s speech is available (in French only) in the "Actualités" section the French Ministry of Culture and Communications website.
In June 2008, Forum des droits sur l'Internet announced the launch of the “Internet and sustainable development” task force, which will examine the accessibility and use of languages on websites.
First, in addition to technical concerns regarding resource availability, the Forum will address the following:
Forum des droits sur l'Internet goes on to say that the task force’s recommendations will make useful contributions to current deliberations among public authorities regarding implementation of the legislation of February 11, 2005, to a variety of initiatives headed by the European Community, to issues of digital accessibility (e-Inclusion, i2010), and to the Internet Governance Forum, on the recognition of international standards for a truly multilingual Internet.
Forum des droits sur l’Internet concludes by stating that recommendations will be aimed directly at website designers, accessibility solution providers, Web surfers, and search engines in order to ensure that sites are more accessible and to better preserve linguistic diversity.
The “Internet and sustainable development” task force began working in July 2008.
Lorna's Silence, by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne won the second edition of the European Parliament's LUX film prize on Wednesday, October 22, 2008, in Strasbourg. According to the European Parliament, MEPs choose the winning film from a shortlist of three compiled by an international jury of filmmakers.
According to a European parliament press release, the LUX Prize is awarded to films that help increase people's understanding of different cultures and peoples in Europe. The winning film will receive funding to be subtitled in all 23 official languages of the EU. “LUX stands for the Latin word for light and alludes to the Lumière brothers, the French pioneers of cinema.”
Presenting the prizes, the President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, said that each of the three films addressed a different issue deserving of greater recognition and that each of the three films was a winner.
Luc Dardenne stressed the importance of subtitling the film thanks to the prize because “we do not watch each others’ films often enough in Europe.” He hoped that “all distributors and cinema managers will understand the message of this prize.”
In a press release dated October 15, 2008, the DG Communication of the European Commission states that, as this year's MIPCOM reaches its halfway mark, the European Audiovisual Observatory has announced its latest figures on European TV markets in 29 countries. According to the press release, this data comes from the Observatory's MAVISE database, created in 2007 for the DG Communication of the European Commission.
Furthermore, according to the Observatory, as of October 15, the estimated supply of TV channels in 27 EU markets + Croatia and Turkey was as follows: around 6,500 channels are currently available to EU audiences. The MAVISE database currently identifies 5,068 active channels. The Observatory's survey of local television channels is still ongoing; a further estimated 1,500 small local channels are active in European markets and will be progressively added to the database. Of the 5,068 channels identified in MAVISE, 4,663 channels are established in one of the 27 EU countries or in the two candidate countries (Croatia and Turkey), and 405 originate from other countries.
For more information on the nature of the European channels surveyed, the breakdown by country of television channels, and the availability of thematic channels, please see the press release available on the Observatoire européen de l’audiovisuel website.
We wish to draw our readers’ attention to linguo-responsable.org. Founded in February 2006, this association is interested in the linguistic and cultural issues surrounding globalization. On its website, linguo-responsable.org states that it “informs various stakeholders of the importance of diversity and contributes to the effective integration of languages and cultures into sustainable development policies.”
Referring to UNESCO’s adoption and many countries’ ratification of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, linguo-responsable.org states, “Today, cultural diversity has become the fourth pillar of sustainable development with regard to the economy, the environment, and social concerns. Linguistic diversity precedes and is a part of cultural diversity.”
“Furthermore, the main objective of linguo-responsable.org is to help integrate language and culture into the sustainable development policies of organizations.” To that end, linguo-responsable.org—
Please visit the linguo-responsable.org website to find out more about this organization and subscribe to its monthly letter.