Vol. 12, no 11, Monday, November 5, 2012
Efforts to implement the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions are underway!
IN THIS ISSUE :
The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and 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 guidelines for implementing the Convention. Since then, five ordinary and two extraordinary sessions have been held, for a total of seven.
The third session of the Conference of Parties, which took place in Paris on June 14 and 15, 2011, saw the approbation of operational guidelines concerning three articles of the Convention and measures to ensure the visibility and promotion of the Convention. In total, twelve articles of the Convention now incorporate operational guidelines.
At press time, 125 Parties (124 states and the European Union 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.
Expressing major concern over the consequences of the European trade policy on the European cultural and audiovisual sectors, the European Coalitions for Cultural Diversity met on September 20 in Bratislava (Slovakia) and adopted a common position that they presented to the Directorate General of Trade of the European Commission as part of the consultations on a future trade agreement between the Unites States (US) and the European Union (EU).
In their written contribution, the European Coalitions expressed their concern that “the audiovisual or other cultural services could be included in the trade negotiation and be used as a trade bargaining chip.”
Among other things, they recalled that:
“[…] the protection and promotion of the audiovisual sector is in line with the traditional stance of the EU on audiovisual services. Indeed, the EU has hitherto refused any trade commitment in this field since the GATS.”
“[…] by adopting the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the EU recognized the specific and double nature, both economic and cultural, of cultural goods and services as well as the right of States to implement cultural policies. This should not be just a reference quoted in European Commissioners' cultural speeches. It should bring effective consequences in the way the EU acts in trade negotiations.”
Concerning the negotiation of a trade agreement US-EU, the European Coalitions “[invited] the European Commission to express itself in favor of the horizontal exclusion of the audiovisual and cultural services from the trade negotiations with the US.” In the opinion of the European Coalitions, such a position would ensure that the European measures and policies aimed at fostering the diversity of cultural expressions will be maintained.
They also expressed their dissatisfaction with the position of the European Commission on the issue of culture and trade in recent last years, particularly regarding the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada:
“For instance, whereas the Members States’ mandate to the European Commission on the EU-Canada CETA globally excluded the audiovisual and other cultural sectors from the scope of the negotiation, the European Commission did not consider that it automatically triggers the horizontal exclusion of audiovisual and cultural sectors. Moreover, despite its commitment to do so, the European Commission has not published any strategy on the crucial issue of culture and trade.”
Finally, with respect to the position of the Unites States regarding audiovisual services, the European Coalitions indicated the following risks:
“[…] the United States stance in various fora reveals that the opening of trade negotiations on the non-linear audiovisual services is one of their trade priorities.”
“On the one hand, they support the OECD exercise named STRI [Services Trade Restrictiveness Index] in the audiovisual services sector whose objective is to list the trade barriers. The inclusion of the European measures and policies aimed to foster cultural diversity into this list, by considering them only from the trade perspective, inflects a negative judgment on them and could contribute to question their existence.”
“On the other hand, United States suggested the integration of the non-linear services into the category of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). If Video on Demand (VoD) is not considered as an audiovisual service, its trade liberalization will become much easier given that similar barriers do not exist in the ICT sector and that a few European Member States do have trade interests in this field.”
“This US position can be considered as a first step towards a formal demand of liberalization of the non-linear audiovisual services.”
To read the full contribution of the European Coalitions, visit the French Coalition for Cultural Diversity website.
The Directorate General for Education and Culture and the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission are organizing a meeting on November 13, 2012 in Brussels (Belgium), with civil society stakeholders on culture and trade.
This meeting aims to provide information on the state of play of current and future bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations, as well as on the Protocols on Cultural Cooperation with third countries, in the overall context of the implementation of the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
Those wishing to participate must register before noon on November 8, 2012.
To view the meeting agenda and for more information, visit the European Commission website.
The documents for the Sixth Ordinary Session of the Intergovernmental Committee to be held in Paris, December 10 to 14 will be available in mid-November on the UNESCO website.
The article "Cultural Development. Reactivation of the International Fund for the Promotion of Culture (IFPC) and its Institutional and Political Implications" (Développement culturel: La relance du Fonds international pour la promotion de la culture et ses implications institutionnelles et politiques) was recently published in the “Les inédits” section of the Observatoire review.
Below is a summary of this article by Antonios Vlassis, postdoctoral researcher at Centre d’études sur l’intégration et la mondialisation (Université du Québec à Montréal) and junior faculty member in the political science department at Université Libre de Bruxelles.
“A year ago, and following the request of certain States, UNESCO took the initiative to reactivate the activities of the International Fund for the Promotion of Culture (IFPC), which had been suspended in 2006. Even though this appears to be a key initiative with regards to questions surrounding cultural development and international cultural cooperation, it prompts us to assess the usefulness of the reactivation, the political and institutional implications of this action, and the relationship that the IFPC will maintain with the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and its International Fund for Cultural Diversity.”
To read the article in question, available in French, visit the Observatoire des politiques culturelles de Grenoble website.
Observatoire des politiques culturelles (OPC) de Grenoble is a French organization concerned with the relationship between artistic and cultural innovations, societal change, and public policy at the regional level. Through the organization of studies, meetings, continuous education, and the dissemination of information, OPC’s goal is to keep a wide range of arts and cultural professionals, specialists, and elected officials abreast of the issues at hand.
The October 2012 edition of the Coalition Currents newsletter is now available.
This edition features, among other things, the following articles:
Coalition Currents is published by the Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity in partnership with the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity. It is available in French, English, and Spanish.
The 14th Francophonie Summit was held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on October 13-14, 2012.
At the conclusion of their work, the heads of state and government of Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, having arrived at an agreement on the theme of "Francophonie: environmental and economic challenges facing global governance", adopted the Kinshasa Declaration.
Regarding the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the heads of states and governments using French as a common language adopted the following recommendation:
"We are determined to pursue our cultural policies and industries in the spirit of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and include cultural considerations in our development policies so as to create conditions conducive to sustainable development.
We ask OIF, as well as operators, to continue programs in support of cultural policies and industries in developing countries. We would also like to see policies implemented to conserve and highlight cultural heritage, particularly with the support of digital technology." (Kinshasa Declaration, recommendation 52).
To see the full version of the Kinshasa Declaration in French , please consult the OIF website.
On October 15–17, the UNESCO office in Bujumbura and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture of Burundi organized a capacity-building workshop on implementing the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
This workshop brought together cultural professionals and operators from different sectors, civil society organizations, training and research institutions, parliamentarians, the press and representatives of public institutions.
The 65 participants covered four themes:
For more information, please consult the UNESCO website.
On October 29–31, 2012 in Ouagadougou, Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) and the Burkina Faso ministry of Tourism held a seminar to train Burkinabe professionals and managers on methods and tools to manage, finance, and develop cultural industries.
This seminar was attended by 30 participants, including technical consultants to the Burkinabe ministry of culture, directors and heads of administrative departments and divisions responsible for devising and implementing public development strategies for cultural industries in the areas of film, audiovisual, multimedia, books, music, and performing arts. Representatives from the main cultural professional organizations were also present.
The following five topics were on the agenda:
This activity is part of the OIF’s support program to strengthen cultural industries in underdeveloped francophone countries. The program’s goal is to strengthen the ability of the four selected countries—Burkina Faso, Gabon, Niger, and Senegal—to formulate and implement policies and measures aimed at promoting diversity of cultural expressions as well as the consolidation of industries—with the goal that these actions contribute to the countries’ economic and social development. To this end, OIF and the government of Burkina Faso signed an agreement on May 3, 2012 to implement the four-year Quadrennial Program (2012-2015) in support of Burkina Faso’s cultural policies and industries.
The call for applications for the 2013 UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries for Artists is now open. For 2013, the program offers bursaries in the following fields: creative writing, music, and the visual arts.
The UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries Program was integrated into UNESCO's strategy in 1994 to promote cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. It aims to provide experience to young artists and help them complete their training in countries other than their own.
The program offers residencies to young artists aged 25 to 35 around the world. It advocates and promotes creativity and highlights cultural exchanges and the need for artists to enrich their experience through contact with other cultures. These residencies are catalysts for the development of artistic expression in all cultures of the world.
From the point of view of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, this program constitutes a best practice in terms of cooperation for development (Article 14), because it gives priority to artists and institutions in developing countries in order to enhance North-South and South-South cooperation.
For the call for applications (which varies according to the artist’s choice of institution of residency) and to obtain more information about the program, please visit the UNESCO website.
The 15th Biennale CINARS will take place from November 12—18, 2012 in Montreal, Canada.
In Montreal, every two years since 1984, CINARS has organized one of the largest international art gatherings (circus, dance, music, theater, multidisciplinary arts) with the participation of nearly 1,000 professionals from 40 countries, including 270 of the world's most influential presenters.
Throughout the week participants can attend a hundred shows from Quebec, Canada, and abroad, workshops, networking events, and an exhibition hall.
Now in its 15th run, Biennale CINARS is considered a must-see world-class event showcasing international performing-art productions.
For additional information and to see the complete 2012 Biennale CINARS program, visit the CINARS website.
CINARS is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to promote and support the export of the performing arts. Its main objectives are to encourage cultural creations emerging from the performing arts sector and promote commercial discussions between organizations specializing in production and those specializing in show presentation.