Cultural diversity

Newsletter
The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 9, no 4, Monday, February 9, 2009

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



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 a special session in Paris, France, from June 24 to 27, 2008. The second ordinary session of the Intergovernmental Committee recently took place in Paris from December 8 to 12, 2008. Another Committee meeting will be held in March 2009, before the Conference of Parties, scheduled to occur in June in Paris.

At press time, 95 states had ratified the treaty. On January 27, 2009, Bosnia-Herzegovina submitted its ratification instrument to UNESCO, joining the States Parties 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

Québec Premier Jean Charest made Commander of France’s Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur

On February 2, Québec Premier Jean Charest was made a Commander of the Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. During a speech for the occasion, the premier recalled certain key moments in the France-Québec relationship, describing it as a privileged relationship “which now covers all aspects of economic, social, and cultural life,” adding that “this friendship and fraternity continues to reach new milestones.” Premier Charest noted that “in 2005, Québec, France, and Canada joined together in a united front at UNESCO to promote the adoption of a convention aimed at protecting the diversity or cultural expression, affirming through their actions that the soul of a people is not an object of trade.”

The full text of the speech is available on the website of the Office of the Premier.

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“The World Report on Cultural Diversity will lend an international perspective to major social debates underway in Québec” — Michel Audet, Quebec Government Representative within the Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO

Mr. Michel Audet, Quebec Government Representative within the Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO believes the World Report on Cultural Diversity, to be launched next August, “will lend an international perspective to major social debates underway in Québec on such varied topics as protecting the French language, national identity, reasonable accommodations, sustainable development, diversity of cultural expression, and media consolidation.”

On January 14, Mr. Audet, whose comments are reported in Bulletin Québec@monde, attended a meeting called by UNESCO Assistant Director General for Culture Françoise Rivière together with other Member States of the organization in order to discuss the report.

According to the Québec@monde article, “The World Report on Cultural Diversity aims to provide a profile of issues involving cultural diversity, critically review common notions and assumptions, and propose concrete recommendations in trans-sectoral areas. Topics receiving special attention include identities, intercultural dialogue, the future of languages, media pluralism and cultural industries, education, sustainable development, cultural industries, governance, and human rights.

The report was requested by the 2005 General Conference and is on a scale comparable to that of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) World Development Report on Human Development, the UNESCO Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report, and the United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR) by UN-Water.

UNESCO created an Advisory Committee of fifteen experts from various fields across several continents. The Committee is tasked with steering the work toward achieving the goals set out in 2005. There have been numerous consultations with members of UNESCO, civil society, and the academic milieu. Between 2006 and 2008, UNESCO requested over 50 expert reports.

The 350-page, eight-chapter World Report on Cultural Diversity will include 10 major recommendations based on consultations over winter and spring with UNESCO’s 193 member countries. Before the Report’s official release, scheduled for August, 2009, a summary may be available for International Cultural Diversity Week, which concludes on May 21.”

For more information on the UNESCO World Report on Cultural Diversity, visit the UNESCO website

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Recent Publications

Comments on the impact of CARIFORUM-EU EPA on the Caribbean creative sector

The latest edition of Trade Negotiations Insight, now available on the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) website, includes two articles on the CARIFORUM-EUROPEAN UNION Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

In an article entitled “As EPA ink dries, what’s next for our creative sectors in the Caribbean?,” author Josanne Leonard, Director of Miribai Communications, Consultant and Chair of the Caribbean Creative Industries Business Forum, “attempts to highlight some of the EPA text on the Protocol on Cultural Cooperation, with a focus on the implications for the region’s cultural industries and entertainment sectors.” The article is available on the ICTSD website.

In the second text, “Expanding trade flows of cultural goods and services,” Edna dos Santos Duisenburg states that “despite their abundance of creative talents and rich cultural assets, developing countries—including the ACP (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific)—are not yet benefiting from the huge potential of their creative industries to promote economic growth, job creation, social inclusion, and export earnings [...]. But this situation has the potential to be improved and all opportunities to do so should be seized. The EPA is one such opportunity.” While the author is chief of the Creative Economy Program at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), she writes the article as an independent author. The article is available on the ICTSD website.

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Publication of the proceedings of the symposium La langue française dans sa diversité

From September 21 to 23, 2008, a symposium entitled “La langue française dans sa diversité” was held in Montréal. This scientific gathering brought together some thirty researchers and specialists and was organized by Secrétariat à la politique linguistique du Québec in collaboration with Conseil supérieur de la langue française and Office québécois de la langue française.

According to the introduction, “The French language is part of the history of many states where it continues to be used as a mother tongue, second language, or partner language. As the common language of the Francophonie, it is shared by diverse cultures and reflects different social realities. It is pluralist in its very essence. All French speakers, be they French (from Paris or Marseille), Belgian (from Brussels or Namur), Québecois (from Montréal or Sherbrooke), or African (from Dakar or Abidjan), speak French using words, accents, and expressions from the country or region in which they live. Like other geographically diffuse languages, French also diversified over time, producing a number of distinct and original varieties worthy of recognition and promotion. That diversity contributes to the vitality of French. In recent years, research has been carried out on the phenomenon of linguistic variation common to all languages and into the various ways French is used. Recognizing and valuing the diversity of French raises questions that should be examined in greater detail. Greater openness to variation also encourages us to examine how francophones see the phenomenon and to consider the hierarchy of the varieties of French as well as the relationship that should be developed between standards, the use of different varieties of French, and comprehensibility between speakers of these variations. Variation also has major implications in the fields of French language teaching and competency evaluation, and in the creation and use of tools to promote French. We need to reevaluate ways of taking into account these variations on the sociolinguistic, linguistic, didactic, and cultural levels (in dubbing, for instance).

These questions are very significant to discussions on the future of French, and professionals from a variety of backgrounds where invited to the symposium to discuss them further. The texts collected in this work address the phenomenon of variation, the manifestation of those variations in French, and the issues related to recognizing them and taking them into account.

The full texts of the  symposium proceedings are available in French on the Secrétariat à la politique linguistique website.

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Cultural Policies and Measures – Best Practices

February 21 is International Mother Language Day

The International Mother Language Day, proclaimed by the General Conference of UNESCO in November 1999, has been observed yearly since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

It originated as the international recognition of Language Movement Day, which has been commemorated in Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) since 1952, when a number of Bangladeshi university students were tragically killed in Dhaka.

The tenth International Mother Language Day on 21 February 2009 also provides an opportunity to recall the objective of this celebration to Member States: the recognition of linguistic diversity and the importance of multilingual education.

The Program of the Day as well as a message from Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of International Mother Language Day are available on the UNESCO website.

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Culture in motion: a snapshot of the projects funded by EU’s Culture Program

The European Commission website has announced the publication of a brochure entitled Culture in Motion, which presents a snapshot of the projects funded by the EU’s Culture Program. The program has a budget of 400 million euros for the 2007-2013 period. It will enable hundreds of cultural operators and many thousands of individuals to take part in trans-national cultural cooperation projects, and to reach people throughout Europe.

The preface to the brochure notes that it provides  “examples of projects promoting the mobility of artists and their works, increasing access to our common cultural heritage, promoting the creativity of young people through innovative cultural education initiatives, and developing the capacities of cultural professionals.” The brochure also describes initiatives promoting intercultural dialogue and a number of projects illustrating creativity and innovation, which is the theme of the 2009 European Year.

The brochure is available in French, English, and German on the European Commission website

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