Vol. 8, no 18, Monday, May 26, 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 first meeting in Ottawa, Canada, from December 10 to 13, 2007. Other meetings will be held before the next Conference of Parties, slated for June 2009 in Paris, France.
At press time, 80 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.
“Over the last few years, a great deal of work and a great many resources have gone into developing the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. However, the full scope of the Convention will be realized only when it has been implemented. To that end, Canada will continue to promote the ratification of the Convention by the greatest number of countries so that it may advance the diversity of cultural expressions in every part of the world,” stated Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages, Ms. Josée Verner on the occasion of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on May 21.
Later in her declaration, Verner added that “ Canada has always played a leading role in matters of cultural diversity.” After the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions was adopted by the 33rd UNESCO General Conference, we became the first country in the world to officially accept it. The Convention entered into force on March 18, 2007. By 2008, 80 countries had joined Canada in officially ratifying the Convention.
“The Convention recognizes both the social and the economic nature of cultural goods and services such as books, films, and television programs,” stated Verner, adding that “Moreover, it reaffirms the right of States to take steps to support the diversity of their cultural expressions.”
As a member of the Intergovernmental Committee tasked with governing the Convention and promoting its objectives, “ Canada will maintain its leadership by continuing to play an active role in the Convention’s implementation and to ensure that concrete results are achieved”. In that regard, the minister indicated that in 2007, Canada had announced a contribution of $500,000 to the International Fund for Cultural Diversity “to support cooperation on sustainable development and foster the emergence of a dynamic cultural sector, especially in developing countries.”
“The Government of Canada welcomes diverse cultural expressions and recognizes how important it is for citizens to have access to their own culture.” According to Verner, “a concrete example of Canada’s commitment to cultural diversity is the agreement in principle reached by all partner governments to ensure the future of TV5MONDE […] in preserving this international tool for the promotion of the French language and the values of the Francophonie, all partners have taken a step forward in the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions.”
May 21, 2008, marked World Day for Cultural Diversity. According to the Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity, the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions “recognizes the distinctive nature of cultural goods and services and affirms in international law the right of countries to apply cultural policies and other measures to ensure that their citizens have access to books, films, television, music, performing arts, and other cultural content that speak to their own experience.” The Coalition adds that “strong domestic cultural industries are essential if a country is to contribute to balanced cultural exchange at the international level.”
During a visit to Canada in the third week of May, International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity President Rasmané Ouedraogo of Burkina Faso praised “(…) the major contribution that organizations representing artists, creators, and all cultural professionals the world over have played in building support for the UNESCO convention—and the importance of maintaining this mobilization through the crucial early stages of implementing it.” Mr. Ouedraogo stated that an important role of his Federation “will be to ensure that cultural professional organizations have a strong voice in the process for implementing the UNESCO convention.”
The Canadian Coalition also declared that “Mr. Ouedraogo’s visit to Montreal recognizes the important work achieved to date in rapidly mobilizing broad international support for the convention, but also underscores the major work that lies ahead.”
According to the Coalition, “The process for implementing the UNESCO convention is still in its earliest stages, and the voice, of artists, creators, and all cultural professionals must be heard clearly in this process,” adding that in order for the convention to realize its full political and legal potential, “countries that ratify it must be coherent in their actions by upholding the principles and objectives of the convention in other international forums, including trade agreements.” Moreover, the Coalition added that major work remains to be done in achieving broader ratification from the current level of 80 countries to 150 or more ratifications—“a benchmark for any major international agreement.”
The Canadian Coalition believes that international cooperation “is also fundamental to the convention—including creation of an International Fund for Cultural Diversity to assist developing countries in nurturing the emergence of their own cultural industries, notably through the application of cultural policies. […] For the fund to fulfil its role, it will need to be adequately resourced by developed countries that have ratified it. […] The announcements by the Governments of Canada and Quebec—both of which have strongly supported the convention initiative from the very beginning—at the first meeting of the convention’s intergovernmental committee last December that they will contribute $500,000 and $100,000 respectively to the Fund were important signals on this count.”
The full version of the Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity press release is available online.
In a press release dated May 21, 2008, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General, Mr. Edwin Carrington, called on the Community to respect and promote the principles of cultural diversity and to ensure that the Community is a place built on mutual understanding and respect for all cultures.
In a message on the occasion of World Day for Cultural Diversity (May 21, 2008), Secretary General Carrington acknowledged the key role of cultural understanding, cooperation, and awareness to the effective implementation of the Community’s flagship programme, the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), asserting that “the foundation of our regionalism is located in the common historical and cultural heritage of the Caribbean.”
According to the Secretary General, the promotion of cultural diversity, safeguarding cultural heritage, and development of creative industries are priority areas in CARICOM.
“Culture is central to building a sense of community, of ensuring that the people of the region feel connected and ‘intensely Caribbean,’ and forging a regional identity,” the CARICOM Secretary General opined.
Carrington acknowledged the need for the Community to create opportunities for the full development of the creativity of its young people, noting that this was central to the development of the region’s culture agenda.
“Youth must be engaged both because they are primary producers and consumers of culture and also as a strategy for diverting youthful energy into positive avenues and away from risky behavior,” Carrington stated.
He pointed to the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) as one vehicle that presented excellent opportunities for youth engagement and exposure and further called on the Community to support the tenth staging of the region’s premier cultural festival, which is slated to take place August 22– 31 in Guyana.
The CARICOM Secretary General also acknowledged the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for taking the lead in observing May 21, as World Day for Cultural Diversity in accordance with the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
“Now is the time to make Education for All a reality. Now is the time to acknowledge that respect for cultural diversity and languages is the key to social development and peace. Now is the time to face up to the challenges of an overexploited planet and to take steps to preserve it for generations to come.” In their annual meeting at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on May 20 and 21, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors reminded the international community that these goals are far from being met.
According to a UNESCO press release, the Goodwill Ambassadors urged governments and civil society to redouble their efforts to achieve “Education for all” by 2015. The press release also mentioned that the Ambassadors supported UNESCO Director General Koïchiro Matsuura “in appealing to donors to honour the promise made at the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000 that no country seriously committed to EFA would be thwarted in its efforts by a lack of resources.”
Meeting on the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development and the International Year of Languages (2008) the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors “acknowledged that multilingualism is a passport to democracy.” UNESCO points out that, considering that half of the world’s 7000 languages currently face extinction, the Goodwill Ambassadors “also made a plea to governments to promote bi- and multilingual education and to respect mother languages in all countries.”
Read the full version of the UNESCO press release for more information on the recent meeting of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors
On May 20 as part of the Cannes International Film Festival, during a presentation by France’s Centre national de la cinématographie, French Minister of Culture and Communications Christine Albanel examined the current state of the French film industry. After describing its recent performance, she presented measures aimed at its revitalization.
The first measure presented by Minister Albanel was an anti-piracy law. According to a press release, a “Création et internet” bill will be submitted to France’s council of ministers in June. The press release indicates that the bill “(…) will create the indispensable legal framework for developing a way to make films widely available over the Internet in a manner that respects copyright law and attracts audiences.” After review by France’s Conseil d’État, the bill will be submitted to the country’s council of ministers in the first half of June, followed by a first reading by the Senate.
According to the press release, “This is a question of striking a balance between two sets of fundamental rights—property rights and the moral rights of artists on one hand and the right to privacy of web surfers on the other.”
Another new measure addressed changes to systems in support of cinema. The press release indicates that Minister Albanel has tasked Véronique Cayla, Director General of France’s Centre national de la cinématographie, with “establishing a broader dialogue with all film industry professionals.” France’s Minister of Culture and Communication indicated that this new direction rests on two documents—one from the “Club of 13” which “calls for reforms to the systems supporting the seventh art,” and another by Anne Perrot and Jean-Pierre Leclerc entitled “Cinéma et concurrence,” which deals with film releases, fee policies affecting operators, and relations between multiplexes and local theaters.
According to the news release, the priorities are “bolstering support for producers and writers, supporting independent companies in order to promote diversity and creative standards, and avoiding the bipolarisation of production, which poses a threat to the diversity and quality of our film industry.”
Minister Albanel also announced other measures to come. First, Albanel declared that she hoped to “(…) help promote the introduction of film into the digital realm, encourage the international expansion of our film industry through more effective support for exports, recapture the public’s attention, and attract young people through better training in cinema within schools.” She concluded by announcing changes to the cinema code and the modernization of the CNC, which now enjoys greater financial autonomy and better adapted branches of government.
The press release indicates that these measure and reforms require legal changes that will be brought together in a bill regarding the film industry.
UNESCO has made four working documents and information regarding the First Extraordinary Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions to be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris June 24 to 27, 2008, in Room II available online.
The following four documents are now available:
On May 22, 2008, the OIF (Organisation internationale de la Francophonie) announced the launch of the 16th public call for projects that would benefit from financing by the Fonds francophone des inforoutes. The mission of the Fonds francophone des inforoutes is to encourage the adoption and use of information and communications technologies (ICT) in Southern Hemisphere and Central and Eastern European countries. It aims to increase the presence of the French language on the World Wide Web.
The OIF states that projects submitted to the Fonds francophone des inforoutes must involve multilateral content production and French-language digital applications. They must meet at least one of the following criteria:
In compliance with Declaration of the Eleventh Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Francophonie (Bucharest, 2006), the Fonds francophone des inforoutes will place great importance on projects introducing information and communications technologies to the field of education. Projects headed by or benefiting women and/or youth are particularly encouraged to apply and will receive special attention.
The deadline for submitting project proposals is September 22, 2008.