Cultural diversity

Newsletter
The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 9, no 16, Monday, May 4, 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

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 Intergovernmental Committee has held two regular meeting to date: one in Ottawa, Canada from December 10 to 13, 2007, and the other in Paris, France from December 8 to 12, 2008. In addition to these meetings, two special sessions have been held in Paris, from June 24 to 27, 2008, and from March 23 to 25, 2009. The second Conference of the Parties will be held from June 15 to 18 at UNESCO headquarters, in Paris.

At press time, 98 Parties (97 states and the European Community as a regional economic integration organization) 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

Culture in the broad sense—cultural policies, promotion of cultural diversity, and intercultural dialog—is gradually becoming a leading political concern (Koïchiro Matsuura)

On April 27, 2009, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura opened a symposium organized by Culturesfrance entitled The Convention on Cultural Diversity: A New Era in the World Cultural Landscape?

On its website, UNESCO reiterates that “the purpose of this symposium was to draw up an initial report on the implementation of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted in October 2005. Two roundtables were organized on the following themes: “Has the convention helped change the world cultural landscape into one of plurality?” and “Can the Convention be expected to affect the economy and culture?” A certain number of recognized and respected figures from France and abroad took part in these roundtables, including a number of UNESCO Executive Council members. Former Minister of French Culture Jack Lang presented the closing address of the symposium.

“The choice of this venue (Théâtre National Chaillot in Paris), where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, is highly symbolic,” said the Director-General in his opening address, “and strongly bears witness to the universality of the principles that govern both human rights and cultural diversity. The large number of representatives from the worlds of arts and politics among us accurately reflects the new sensitivity to these issues and the need to rethink the place of culture on the international political agenda. Adoption of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions by UNESCO in October 2005 was clearly a major step in this awareness.”

The Director-General reiterated that UNESCO had adopted a global approach in the field of culture by developing a set of conventions, including the three main ones on cultural diversity: the 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the 2005 Convention, which came into effect on March 18, 2007, and to date numbers 98 ratifications.

“You know that this Convention aims above all to recognize the distinct nature of cultural goods and services as bearers of identity, values, and meaning,” continued the Director-General, “to define new terms and conditions of agreement and international solidarity, and to reaffirm the sovereign right of States to maintain, adopt, and implement policies and measures that they deem appropriate for the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions on their territory, while ensuring the free circulation of ideas and works. The primary objective of the convention is therefore to jointly strengthen five inseparable links: creation, production, dissemination/ distribution of, access to, and enjoyment of cultural expressions.”

Pointing to the need for not only States and the public sector but also civil society, non-governmental agencies, and the private sector to consider new roles for new players, Mr. Matsuura also mentioned the challenge of setting up innovative partnerships to strengthen international cooperation—particularly in favor of developing countries—and called to mind the role that the International Fund for Cultural Diversity will be led to play in this regard.

“Culture in the broad sense—cultural policies, promotion of cultural diversity, and intercultural dialog—is gradually becoming a leading political concern. It is important to us, because it is at the center of the latest debates on identity, social cohesion, and sustainable development. In this process, the notion of ‘diversity’ is essential; it reminds us that pluralism is the incubator of freedoms, that cultural pluralism is the political response to cultural diversity, and that it is part and parcel of a democratic framework,” concluded the Director-General.

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Cannes 2009: Ten days devoted to the promotion and marketing of films from five continents

The Cinémas du Monde building will be a symbolic hotbed of creativity, a breeding ground for filmmakers, and a convergence of professionals at the heart of Marché international du film de Cannes (MIF). Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), Culturesfrance, Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France, and the TV5MONDE network will be the hosts of this venue from May 13 to 24.

“The partners of the Cinémas du Monde building will rally around a single objective—cultural diversity—promoting and marketing films from five continents over a period of ten days,” specifies OIF on its website.

“In terms of professional accompaniment, this year will feature 15 films and/or projects from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Near and Middle East with a view to optimizing production startup opportunities and facilitating marketing and circulation. A total of 22 producers, directors, and actors will benefit from multiform accompaniment (training, screenings, themed meetings, individualized contact) with the participation of three continents in a friendly environment equipped with the latest communication technology.

On Friday, May 22, OIF will organize a breakfast on the theme of assistance for the development of feature films in southern countries, particularly French-speaking ones. During the festival it will also present films that it supports through Fonds francophone de production audiovisuelle du Sud, including

  • Min Yé by Souleyman Cissé (Mali), official out-of-competition selection
  • L’absence by Mama Keïta (Guinea)
  • Ouled Lenine by Nadia El Fani (Tunisia)
  • Morbayassa by Cheick Fantamady Camara (Guinea), recipient of the OIF bursary at Fespaco 2009, and the animated film Diabou Ndaw by Makéna Diop (Senegal), two projects under development

La Francophonie is a leading source of funding for film and television productions in developing French-speaking countries. Since its inception in 1988, Fonds francophone de production audiovisuelle du Sud has supported the production of over 1,600 film and television works at the rate of 70 to 80 per year.”

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Recent Publications

“Culture and Creative Industries in Germany” report

L’Observatoire de l’administration publique announces the publication of the study Culture and Creative Industries in Germany by Germany’s Ministry of Economics and Technology.

“This report focuses on the situation of culture and design industries in Germany. Dwelling on the economic aspects these industries represent—notably in employment terms—the report discusses support accorded by the German federal government and issues a number of recommendations for strategic government action, including the accessibility of these industries to current innovative business support programs,” explains the Observatoire newsletter.

This study is available on the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology website.

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Online version of the spring edition of the Culture in Motion newsletter

The European Commission is now featuring a brand new newsletter, Culture in Motion, on its website. This publication reports on events and activities in connection with the Culture Programme and calls for projects under way.

The EU’s Culture Programme (2007–2013) has a budget of €400 million for projects and initiatives to celebrate Europe’s cultural diversity and enhance our shared cultural heritage through the development of cross-border cooperation between cultural operators and institutions. It encourages interdisciplinary cooperation between European organizations such as theaters, museums, professional associations, research centers, universities, cultural institutes, and public authorities with a view to extending their cultural and artistic reach across borders.

The Culture Programme aims to achieve three main objectives: to promote cross-border mobility of those working in the cultural sector; to encourage the transnational circulation of cultural and artistic output; and to foster intercultural dialogue.

We invite you to read this newsletter on the European Commission website.

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Arabic version of the study “Cultural Expressions under Threat in the UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions” by Ivan Bernier

The study Cultural Expressions under Threat in the UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions by Ivan Bernier is now available in Arabic.

As announced in the April 27 newsletter, following a brief examination of the provisions of the Preliminary Draft Convention that served as a starting point for the government experts’ negotiation on cultural expressions under threat, Professor Bernier discusses convention provisions that refer explicitly to this issue and looks at the draft operational guidelines adopted in June 2008 by the Intergovernmental Committee that will be submitted for the approval of the Conference of Parties in June 2009.

This study is available on our website in English, French, Spanish, and Arabic.

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Cultural Policies and Measures – Best Practices

Lisbon: Spotlight on next-generation networks and Internet-related public policies

Calling the recent World Telecommunication Policy Forum a veritable “spotlight on next-generation networks and Internet-related public policies to encourage the future development of ICT,” the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) had this to report on the event: “The Lisbon Consensus adopted at the fourth ITU World Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF-09) addressed telecommunications policy and regulatory issues associated with technological change and convergence in the rapidly evolving world of information and communication technologies (ICT). […] The Forum agreed that ITU should continue playing its role in facilitating the coordination of Internet-related public policy issues and study the management of Internet resources, international Internet interconnection (e.g., tariffs and accessibility), and a multilingual Internet to facilitate the diversity of online participation. An enabling environment should be developed and promoted to allow governments to carry out their roles and responsibilities in international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet and in ensuring its stability, security, and continuity, although not in the day-to-day technical and operational matters.”

The entire content of this press release is available on the ITU website.

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Entries in the Commonwealth Short Story Competition accepted until May 11

The Commonwealth Foundation mentions on its website that the deadline for entries in the Commonwealth Short Story Competition is May 11.

The Commonwealth Short Story Competition is an annual scheme to promote new creative writing. It was established in 1996. According to the Commonwealth Foundation website, it is funded by the Commonwealth Foundation and the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, who work together to administer the scheme.

“The scheme exists to increase understanding and appreciation of Commonwealth cultures and to promote rising literary talents. Each year 26 winning and highly commended stories from the different regions of the Commonwealth are recorded onto CDs and broadcast on radio stations across the Commonwealth. The winner receives a prize of £2,000 and there are regional prizes of £500. The competition is open to all people who are citizens of a Commonwealth member country,” says the Commonwealth Foundation.

For complete competition rules, we invite you to visit the Commonwealth Foundation website.

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Other News of Interest

Montréal welcomes the 10th International Digital Arts Festival

From May 1 to 10, digital culture lovers can get together in Montréal at the International Digital Arts Festival. “Elektra is a major event in the world of digital art. Its tenth anniversary bears witness to the strong innovative contributions of our creators. Thanks to their expertise in high tech artistic design, they are popular in many areas around the world,” said Pierre Arcand, Québec Minister of International Relations.

“This event presents works and artists that combine cutting-edge electronic music and visual designs using new technology. It reflects the close ties between new technology and culture while allowing multidisciplinary artists to be part of an international network as part of the International Digital Arts Market. By bearing witness to the diversity of artistic expressions in Montréal, Elektra projects a creative, avant-garde image of our city,” says Christine St-Pierre, Québec Minister of Culture, Communications, and the Status of Women.

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