Cultural diversity

Newsletter
The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 8, no 26, Monday, August 25, 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

Cultural Policies and Measures – Best Practices

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, 89 states had ratified the treaty. On July 16, 2008, Switzerland 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.

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Press Releases, Speeches, and Declarations

Message from the Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

August 9, 2008 was International Day of the World's Indigenous People. In a speech given on the occasion, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura stated that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples “acknowledges the significant place that indigenous cultures occupy in the world and their vital contribution to our rich cultural diversity, which constitutes, in the words of its preamble, ‘the common heritage of humankind’.”

The Director-General went on to say that “By approving this landmark Declaration, the UN has taken a major step forward in the protection and promotion of indigenous peoples’ rights in terms of culture, language, and education within the larger human rights framework and has sent a clear signal in this regard to the international community,” adding “it is now the responsibility of the United Nations (in particular UNESCO in its capacity as the specialized agency of the UN for culture, science, education, and communication) to ensure that this message is widely disseminated, understood, and—most importantly—translated into concrete policies that will enable indigenous peoples to participate fully and equally in national and international life.”

Indeed, stated Mr. Matsuura, “the new Declaration echoes the principles of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001) and related Conventions, most notably the 1972 World Heritage Convention, the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.” According to the Director-General, “each of these recognizes the pivotal role of indigenous peoples as custodians of cultural diversity and biodiversity.” However, “in seeking to promote and protect indigenous cultures, these standard-setting instruments also recognize the vulnerability of many of those cultures, the material, environmental, and spiritual conditions of indigenous peoples, their worldviews, and their intimate relationship with the land and natural resources in our rapidly changing world.”

The full text of the speech by the Director-General is available online at the UNESCO website.

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Informal meeting of EU Ministers for Culture and Audiovisual Affairs on July 21 and 22, 2008 at Château de Versailles

Christine Albanel, French minister for culture and communication, brought together her fellow EU ministers for an informal meeting in Versailles on July 21 and 22. She took the opportunity to discuss the four main goals she intends to pursue during France’s presidency to promote the cultural dimension of Europe’s collective existence:

  • Promote, protect, and improve access to European heritage
  • Protect and encourage the creation and distribution of culture in the digital age
  • Promote intercultural dialog and cultural and linguistic diversity
  • Draw attention to the importance of architecture in sustainable development

According to a press release by the minister, the first day of the meeting focused on ways to better enhance knowledge of, and access to, European heritage, particularly for young people. One of the main issues discussed by the ministers of culture concerned the European Heritage Label project. This initiative, put forward by over a dozen Member States of the European Union in 2007, aims to enhance certain key sites and landmarks (monuments, natural and urban sites, and historically significant areas) of European heritage.

The ministers agreed to work within the Community bodies with a view to building an undertaking where all 27 Member States play a role a d European citizens gain a better understanding of their common European heritage. These efforts may also “help to promote economic development of the territories of the European Union and their appeal as a visitor destination.” Several ministers stressed the importance of making sites more accessible to youth.

Ministers for audiovisual affairs discussed the revision of the Community’s regulatory framework governing electronic communication (the Telecommunications Package). They underlined “the need to retain the balance between economic gain and public interest objectives such as media pluralism, cultural and linguistic diversity, and land use planning.” According to the press release, the ministers for audiovisual affairs “wished to draw the attention of their colleagues responsible for telecommunications and of the European and Commission delegates to these points and to the importance of considering the particularities and objectives of the audiovisual sector when revising the Telecommunications Package.

The ministers also raised the issue of digital world protection of copyright and related rights. They stressed the importance of “educating consumers about copyright relating to material made available online and about the consequences of piracy on creation and cultural diversity.” The press release further states that all representatives from the fields of cultural and communications “must come together to fight against piracy and develop a more attractive legal alternative for consumers.”
“The importance of the European public audiovisual service model was reiterated, as was the need to protect subsidies, which make it possible for member states to guarantee the means of developing public audiovisual services.”

In closing, the press release states that the ministers will meet again in Brussels on November 20, 2008 at the Education, Youth and Culture Council to adopt conclusions on points like the European Heritage Label and developing creative content online and protecting it from piracy.

For a complete account of the meeting of the Ministers for Culture and Audiovisual Affairs, please consult the article, file, and press release available on the French Ministry of Culture and Communication website.

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Discussion between the Secretary General of La Francophonie and the President of the Union of the Comoros

On July 21, 2008, Secretary General of La Francophonie Abdou Diouf met with the president of the Union of the Comores, Abdallah Mohamed Sambi.

According to the press release, President Sambi called among other things during their discussion “for the mobilization of OIF and its Member States and governments to promote the teaching of French in the Comores.” He then asked for the assistance of OIF in preparing the next inter-Comoros meeting and its support efforts towards modernization and justice reform.

The press release also states that President Sambi gave Secretary General Diouf his personal assurance that he was “committed to ensuring that UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions will be ratified as soon as possible.”

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Recent Publications

Online publication of the Spanish and Arabic versions of the study entitled “The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions: A Cultural Instrument at the Junction of Law and Politics,” by Professor Ivan Bernier

The study entitled “The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions: A Cultural Instrument at the Junction of Law and Politics,” by Professor Ivan Bernier is now available on our website in four languages (French, English, Spanish and Arabic).

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Cultural Policies and Measures – Best Practices

The Council of Europe becomes a partner of the Sarajevo Film Festival

The Council of Europe has announced that, for the first time ever, it was a partner of the Sarajevo Film Festival (August 15 to 23) and sponsor of the “Heart of Sarajevo” award for best feature film. This year’s winner was the Croatian film “Buick Riviera” by director Goran Rušinović.

According to the press release, since 1988 the European Support Fund for the Coproduction and Distribution of Creative Cinematographic and Audiovisual Works, or Eurimages, has worked within the Council of Europe to promote the European film industry by encouraging the production and distribution of films and fostering cooperation between professionals. As of 2005, Bosnia and Herzegovina has also been a member of Eurimages.

“Being very active in southeastern Europe, the Council of Europe believes that, as a meeting point of the regional film industry, the Sarajevo Film Festival is a natural choice for promoting its activities, recognizing mutual goals to educate people through films, supporting artistic creation and the freedom of expression through film making, and promoting its values of cultural diversity and mutual respect.”

For more information, visit the festival website at www.sff.ba

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Other News of Interest

International seminar entitled “New frontiers for the cultural economy: from cultural industries to creative industries”

As part of France’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, the country’s ministry of culture and communication will hold an international seminar entitled “New frontiers for the cultural economy: from cultural industries to creative industries?” The event will take place October 2 and 3, 2008 at Musée du quai Branly, in Paris. Admission is free, but seating is limited. Registration is required.

According to organizers, the 3rd Conference on Cultural Economics will combine analyses of European economies and discussion on business strategy based on European cultural statistics compiled for the European Commission by Eurostat and the Expert Group on Maximization of the Potential of Cultural and Creative Industries, particularly small and medium enterprises (SME).

According to the information provided, this European gathering will present developments in the field of culture and communication, known strengths in the field, and the new theoretical and practical foundations of cultural industry policy: creation and links to heritage, as well as reflections on the goals of public intervention such as the adoption of regulations. It will bring together people from the fields of economics and culture in France and across Europe for lectures and panel discussions in order to arrive at recommendations aimed at guiding cultural policy in Europe.

For more information, visit http://www.jec-culture.org

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