Vol. 9, no 23, Monday, June 22, 2009
Efforts to implement the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions are underway!
IN THIS ISSUE :
The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions came into force on March 18, 2007. At the first session of the Conference of Parties to the Convention in June 2007, the Intergovernmental Committee was given a mandate to develop the necessary operational directives for implementing the Convention. The Committee has met four times over the past two years.
The second session of the Conference of Parties, which took place in Paris on June 15 and 16, 2009, saw the adoption of operational directives concerning 9 articles of the Convention. The Intergovernmental Committee was mandated to continue developing operational directives.
At press time, 99 Parties (98 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.
With the closing of the 2nd session of the Conference of Parties, UNESCO has posted Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura’s opening speech on its website. We present here a summary of his remarks.
The Director General began with a tribute to the work of the Intergovernmental Committee, which helped develop critical guidelines for implementing the Convention, saluting its respective presidents, Ambassador Gilbert Laurin of Canada and Ms. Vera Lacoeuilhe of Sainte Lucie.
While expressing satisfaction at the rapid pace of ratification (98 states and the European Community), the Director General also expressed the wish that the regions still under-represented, Asia and the Pacific as well as the Arab states, take all necessary measures toward ratifying the Convention. “It is only through universal or quasi universal ratification that the international cooperation the Convention was created to promote can have full effect,” the Director General emphasized.
Mr. Matsuura went on to review planned operational directives and guidelines regarding the promotion and protection of cultural expressions, the role and participation of civil society, international cooperation, and the question of preferential treatment for developing countries subject to the Conference of Parties, after intense debate during Committee sessions, as well as planned guidelines for allocating resources from the International Fund for Cultural Diversity.
“An essential tool for implementing the Convention and for strengthening international cooperation, the Fund is made up principally of voluntary contributions that are neither linked nor assigned […]. The Committee has clearly stated that the Fund should be used to support cultural industries in developing countries, cooperation for sustainable development, and poverty reduction,” said the Director General, announcing the Fund had reached $1.5 million.
Noting that the Fund is made up only of voluntary contributions, the Director General expressed the hope that “in this period of financial crisis, parties to the Convention and other potential contributors will remain convinced of the importance of the diversity of cultural expressions and international solidarity, so that truly sustainable development policies can be implemented.”
Mr. Matsuura also emphasized the importance of education and public awareness in the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, as well as the critical issue of visibility, “on which depend the Convention’s success, financing, and credibility.”
The Director General concluded by expressing the hope that the directives submitted to the Conference of Parties would be approved and become effective immediately, so that the Convention would become fully operative a mere three and a half years after its adoption, constituting “a record in the history of UNESCO.”
The full text of Mr. Matsuura’s address is available in French and English on the UNESCO website.
Mr. Michel Audet, Québec representative on the Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO, took the floor during the 2nd session of the Conference of Parties. After noting the involvement of civil society in the work to implement the Convention, Mr. Audet saluted the U40–World Forum, which, on the initiative of the German Commission for UNESCO and the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity, was an opportunity for young experts to discuss Convention implementation.
He also drew attention to the International Network of Lawyers for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, a group whose goals include the initiation of independent reflection on issues around the implementation and interpretation of the Convention and the provision of legal support services for Convention implementation to governments and members of civil society who request it.
Regarding follow-up to the 2nd session of the Conference of Parties, Mr. Audet declared, “When all is said and done, we intend to continue in the coming years to promote reflection on Convention objectives through the Québec government’s Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine website and weekly newsletter on the diversity of culture expressions. We draw your attention to a new essay by Professor Ivan Bernier, an independent, internationally recognized expert, soon to be available on this website, which will discuss the scope and interpretation of articles 20 and 21 of the Convention. Professor Bernier’s text is, as always, his own work and does not represent the opinion of the Government of Québec or the Government of Canada.”
Professor Ivan Bernier’s essay will be available shortly in French, English, Spanish, and Arabic.
Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF) spoke out last week in Paris following the 2nd session of the Conference of Parties. Speaking on behalf of the APF, Québec MNA Bertrand St-Arnaud congratulated the Committee for its impressive work. “Now that the time has come for the Conference to establish new priorities, the parliamentarians of La Francophonie would like to encourage the Committee in carrying out its mandate for the next two years,” he declared. “We are confident that the Committee will be able to prepare operational directives for all articles for which they are required because, like you, we believe in the importance of implementing the Convention as quickly as possible.”
The parliamentarians of La Francophonie gathered in Luxembourg expressed the wish that the Committee establish guidelines shortly for articles 20 and 21, involving ties to other instruments, since these are central to the Convention’s purpose. Specifically, Article 21 dealing with international cooperation and coordination will need careful consideration. The involvement and form of consultation prescribed by the Convention must be defined and spelled out. We are confident that the Committee will deal effectively with the duties it has been assigned, particularly that of promoting the goals and principles of the Convention in other international forums.
The parliamentarians of La Francophonie are determined to maintain their efforts on the international scene. “We continue to follow attentively the foundational work of the Convention and renew our call on member governments of La Francophonie to ratify it,” concluded the APF representative.
We are grateful to Mr. St-Arnaud for providing us with the text of his remarks so we could publish this excerpt.
On June 12 to 14, the German Commission for UNESCO and the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity held the U40–World Forum, “Cultural Diversity 2030.” In this meeting, some 50 young culture professionals from 34 countries presented their vision of cultural diversity as a value, objective, priority, and instrument for human advancement. They also manifested their involvement by proposing initiatives and actions dealing with dimensions such as visibility-understanding-participation, world cooperation, and the International Fund for Cultural Diversity.
Results of the U40–World Forum’s deliberations are available on the website of the German National Commission for UNESCO.
UNESCO has made available on its website a number of documents relative to the 2nd session of the Conference of Parties. These include the speech of UNESCO’s Director General, the list of members of the Intergovernmental Committee since the latest election, a document summarizing the resolutions adopted, as well as a number of working and informational documents. To consult them, we invite you to visit the UNESCO website.
This year, UNESCO celebrated World Day for Cultural Diversity (May 21) in a special way. Throughout the month of May, dozens of artists from all over the world bore witness to the richness of humanity’s cultural heritage under the rubric of the first World Cultural Diversity Festival. Presented simultaneously in several countries and at the Organization’s headquarters, the festival is concrete proof of the fundamental affinity between culture and diversity. The latest edition of the UNESCO Courier is a reflection on this festival.
The Observatory of Cultural Policies in Africa (OCPA) has posted the latest edition of its newsletter, the OPCA News, on its website. Some one hundred items are presented, reporting on events, calling for proposals, and presenting publications and other information of interest regarding life and cultural policy on the African continent. This publication is available on the OCPA website.
The European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Ján Figel', recently signed two joint declarations between the European Commission and the Government of Mexico on education and culture, in the presence of the Mexican Ambassador to the EU, H.E. Sandra Fuentes-Berain. With these declarations, the European Commission and the Government of Mexico seek to strengthen their cooperation through a policy dialogue on key education and cultural issues.
In its press release, the European Commission states that these joint declarations officially mark the opening of a policy dialogue between the European Commission and the United States of Mexico, noting that “in the area of culture, a first pilot phase (2008–2010) of a bilateral cultural cooperation instrument, the Cultural Fund EU-Mexico, with a budget of €1.0 million, began in December 2007 in the framework of the Country Strategy Paper 2007–2013 for Mexico. It was the first time that the focus on cultural cooperation was so visibly placed on our bilateral relations with Mexico, prior to the establishment of the sectoral dialogue on cultural policy. This pilot phase opens a new space of beneficial cultural exchanges for organizations based in the European Union, as well as for Mexican cultural organizations. A second phase of this program (2009–2013) is expected to be signed in 2009, with a total budget of €6.8 million, to which the EU and the Government of Mexico will contribute equally. It is expected that in 2010, this Fund will be used to support some of the activities commemorating the bicentennial of Mexico’s Independence as well as the centennial of the Mexican Revolution.”
These texts and declarations are available on the European Commission website.
On June 16, 2009, Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO, opened the “Colours of the Planet” exhibition, presented by the Permanent Delegation of the Principality of Andorra to UNESCO.
This exhibition originated with a meeting of artists from all over the world, gathering together in Andorra at the instigation of the Andorran National Commission to UNESCO as part of the International Year of Planet Earth and the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.
Noting that “one of the objectives of the 2005 Convention is to promote a cultural diversity for all, carefully ensuring that all cultures can express themselves and make themselves known,” Mr. Matsuura emphasized the role of artistic creativity in opening up a dialogue among cultures, declaring that “this initiative privileges the expressive power of art and the strength of the artistic community in maintaining dialogue and protecting cultural and artistic diversity.”
From July 5 to 20, Algiers will rock to the beat of the 2nd PanAfrican Cultural Festival (PANAF). Some 8,000 people from 48 countries of the African Union, the Western Sahara Arab Republic, the United States of America, and Brazil will converge on Algeria’s capital to take part in a rich and varied program of theater, cinema, song, and dance activities. Books will also be part of this cultural event, through the reissue of close to 250 African titles. Some 25 culture ministers and secretaries of state are expected to attend the event.
For more information, we invite you to visit the PANAF website.