Cultural diversity

Newsletter
The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 8, no 40, Monday, December 1, 2008

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

Other News of Interest



Convention Update

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

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, 93 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

Member States of the European Union meet to remove Amendment 138 (the "Bono Amendment") from the Telecoms Package

In a November 28, 2008 press release, French Minister of Culture and Communication Christine Albanel proudly declared that all Member States of the European Union have agreed to remove Amendment 138 (known as the “Bono Amendment”) from the Telecoms Package.

According to a press release describing the event, during a revision of the Telecoms Package, all 27 European telecommunications ministers agreed to remove Amendment 138, adopted September 24 by the European Parliament under the initiative of French socialist MP Guy Bono. According to Minister Albanel, “this is another piece of good news this week for the defense of creators and the sharing of their work over the Internet.” The press release goes on to say that on November 20, “the 27 culture and audiovisual ministers unanimously adopted the findings of the French presidency to encourage prevention of and the fight against piracy, particularly through the implementation of progressive, non-judicial mechanisms based on education.”

The French Ministry of Culture and Communications adds that Minister Albanel wishes to indicate that “Amendment 138, which was based on very general principles, added nothing to existing rights.” The press release goes on to state that “the Minister categorically denies the interpretation of lobbyists opposing the defense of creative rights, who have claimed that this amendment was a legal obstacle to France’s implementation of a preventative and gradual struggle against piracy described in the Creation and Internet Bill.”

“Nevertheless, the imprecise terms used in the amendment allowed for several interpretations, making the amendment a source of confusion that could hinder the proper democratic debate expected by French citizens and Europeans on the issue of piracy.”

According to the Minister, “because of Amendment 138, the defense of liberty—to which the Creation and Internet Bill poses no threat—served as a bunker in a rear guard struggle fought to the detriment of cultural artists and industries representing hundreds of thousands of jobs in our country. Things are now clear, and the enemies of creators will have to fight out in the open.”

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As Claude Lévi-Strauss turns 100, UNESCO Director-General pays tribute to one of the leading thinkers of the 20th century

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura has joined in paying tribute to French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss on the occasion of his hundredth birthday on November 28, 2008.

On this occasion, Mr. Matsuura stated, “Claude Lévi-Strauss, one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, has always been very close to the unfolding history of UNESCO. His work, with its humanist message and universal scope, has radically changed our understanding of the world. Interested in all civilizations, he has taught us about the complexity of myths and the diversity of cultures, as well as their fragility. Thanks to him, we know that the wealth of humanity lies in its diversity and its ability always to accept the other.”

According to the press release, on November 16, 2005, alongside other dignitaries, Claude Lévi-Strauss opened the ceremonies commemorating the 60th anniversary of UNESCO. In his speech, he declared, “Cultural diversity and biological diversity are only phenomena of the same kind, they are linked organically, and, every day, we become more aware that on the human scale, the problem of cultural diversity is the reflection of a much wider problem, whose solution is even more urgent, and that is the relationship between humanity and other living species. It is of no use to attempt to resolve the problem on one level if it is not also tackled on the other, as it is so evident that the respect that we wish to obtain from every human being towards cultures that are different from their own, is only a special instance of the respect that should be felt towards all forms of life.”

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Cultural diversity “in French” honored in the literary world

In a November 25, 2008 press release, the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) stated that “French-language literature occupies a place of honor this year, earning prestigious Swedish, French, and even Chinese prizes,” adding, “the diversity of French-language writers, the place held by their works in world literature, and the international distinctions they earn are the most eloquent testimonies to the richness and vitality of the French language.”

To illustrate its statements, the OIF points to the following prestigious awards earned by French-language authors:

  • The Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded to Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio for the collected body of his work. In January 2008 in Beijing, together with five other foreign writers, he received an award for best foreign writer for 2006 from Chinese publisher The People’s Literary Publishing House.
  • The Goncourt Prize, awarded to Franco-Afghan writer and filmmaker Atiq Rahimi for Syngué sabour. Pierre de patience. (P.O.L., 2008)
  • The Théophraste Renaudot Prize, awarded to Guinean writer Tierno Monénembo for Le Roi de Kahel. (Seuil, 2008)
  • The France Télévisions Prize, awarded to Franco-Algerian writer Yasmina Khadra for Ce que le jour doit à la nuit. (Julliard, 2008)
  • The Décembre Prize, awarded to Mathias Enard for Zone. (Actes Sud, 2008)
  • In addition to the Mallarmé Prize, Seymus Dagtekin received the Académie française Théophile Gautier Prize for his collection of poems entitled Juste un pont sans feu. (Le Castor Astral, 2007)

For more information on each of these writers, please see the full OIF press release.

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Recent Publications

“Putting Culture First: Commonwealth perspectives on culture and development,” by Andrew Firmin and Mark Nowottny

The Commonwealth Foundation has announced the release of a report entitled “Putting Culture First: Commonwealth perspectives on culture and development,” by Andrew Firmin and Mark Nowottny.

Putting Culture First is the product of extensive consultation with representatives from government, civil society, and the culture and development sectors across the Commonwealth, carried out between February and October 2008.

Describing the report, the Commonwealth Foundation states that “across the Commonwealth, people are instinctively expressing and making the most of their culture and creative resources. Governments and citizens, however, have rarely been able to pin down exactly how culture is being used for development, and have therefore rarely been able to offer necessary support to individuals, cultural practitioners and civil society organizations. This report is a first step at the Commonwealth level to recognize the value of culture, and to begin to untangle some of the many ways in which culture is linked to development.”

The report includes the following chapters:

  • Introduction
  • The creative economy and sustainable livelihoods
  • Cultural policy and the 2005 UNESCO Convention
  • Culture as a tool for development
  • Culture as a process for development
  • Cultural expression and negotiating identities
  • Culture, crisis, and repression
  • Rights and culture
  • Conclusion: where next for the Commonwealth?

The report can be downloaded (in English only) from the Commonwealth Foundation website. The primary research material can also be downloaded from the same site.

The report can also be purchased on the Commonwealth Secretariat website.

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Other News of Interest

Seminar in Vietnam: "Preserving and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions: sharing Asian and European experiences"

The European Commission and Vietnamese authorities jointly organize an Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) seminar on the theme "Preserving and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions: sharing Asian and European experiences," which will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam on December 15–16, 2008.

The seminar will aim at exchanging experiences and points of view on questions related to the diversity of cultural expressions. It is meant to be an open platform for discussions between officials, decision-makers as well as representatives of civil society active in the field of culture, from both Europe and Asia.

The draft agenda of the meeting provides more information on the seminar.

The European Commission invites all interested organizations and individuals to take part in this event by registering at the following website: http://asem.dnc-group.net/

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Call for papers: International symposium entitled “From an information society to a knowledge society—knowledge sharing networks and communities” Deadline: January 5, 2009

An international scientific symposium entitled “From an information society to a knowledge society—knowledge sharing networks and communities” will be held June 8 to 10, 2009, at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Organized jointly by the National Autonomous University of Mexico and Université Robert Schuman in Strasbourg, France, the symposium will continue discussions begun at the World Summit on the Information Society held in Brazzaville and Kinshasa in the DR Congo in 2006 and in Jijel, Algeria, in 2008.

On the event website, the organizers state that “the relationship between culture and communication is based on networks of knowledge. These networks are the foundation of knowledge societies, a concept that springs from considerations of the ideal society (UNESCO 2005). The knowledge society will be richer and will promote empowerment of the information society. In ‘knowledge societies,’ a global economic model as a social organization paradigm based on the development and expansion of ICT presupposes the existence of communities and social networks for access to knowledge. But what knowledge are we talking about? What are the reference models, terms of sharing, logic, and networks, and who are the agents? What is the impact of the generalization of ICT in universities?”

These are some of the questions arising from the five points addressed by the symposium:

Point 1: Public policy and building a knowledge society
Point 2: Sharing networks and communities (new democratic spaces for exchanging knowledge, e.g., collaborative Web)
Point 3: Socioeconomic logic, practices, and constraints with respect to the sharing of knowledge
Point 4: Cultural diversity, technological tools, and knowledge sharing
Point 5: Industrialization of training, telecommuting, and distance education

Proposals for papers should be sent no later than January 5, 2008, to the following address: colloque_unam@yahoo.fr

The symposium will be held in Spanish, English, and French.

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Culture, Economy, Regional Integration: Culture, a Lever for African Development — Paris, France

A meeting entitled “Culture, Economy, Regional Integration: Culture, a Lever for African Development” will be held on December 16, 2008, in Room 2 of Maison de l’UNESCO in Paris, France.

UNESCO states that this meeting is organized in collaboration with “Réseau Africain des Promoteurs d’Événements Culturels” (RAPEC) with a view to reinforcing the vision by the professional partners, particularly those from the African Diaspora, about the relations between culture and development in Africa, putting particular emphasis on the link between creative industries and economy. A plenary session with eminent personalities will be devoted to the general theme. It will be followed by three round tables of experts and the conclusions by the rapporteur. The public will assist on invitation.

For the Culture Sector, “this activity contributes to the implementation of the strategy of the Approved Program and Budget for 2008–2009, which foresees the follow up of the Plan of Action for Cultural Industries in Africa (Nairobi, 2005). This Plan of Action was also addressed by the Khartoum Summit of African Heads of States (2006).” UNESCO adds that “for RAPEC, this meeting—in French—will be followed by others in Africa, in preparation for a summit of Cultural Managers whose findings will be submitted to the African Union.”

The program for the meeting is available online.

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Symposium entitled “Cinéma et audiovisuel : action publique et territoires. Quelles coopérations pour la création, l’exploitation et l’éducation à l’image ?” in Vendôme, France

A symposium entitled “Cinéma et audiovisuel : action publique et territoires. Quelles coopérations pour la création, l’exploitation et l’éducation à l’image ?” will be held on Thursday, December 11, 2008, as part of the professional meeting of Festival du film de Vendôme (France). The event will be organized by Centre Images et l’Observatoire des politiques culturelles.

On the symposium website, the organizers state, “With unprecedented levels of local investment being made in the cinematographic and audiovisual fields in France and across Europe, this symposium is an opportunity to reflect on the implementation, evolution, and consequences of territorial policy.”

According to the program, following an introduction on the notion of a cinematographic and audiovisual civil service, the day will be divided into three sections:

  • What should the public-private relationship be with respect to operation?
  • Support for creativity: how can groups be subsidized?
  • Education and promotion: How can public agents work together?

Place:
Festival du Film de Vendôme
Le Minotaure
rue César de Vendôme
Vendôme, France

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