Cultural diversity

Newsletter
The Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Vol. 13, no 7, Monday, July 8, 2013

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!

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, six ordinary and two extraordinary sessions have been held, for a total of eight.

The fourth session of the Conference of Parties, which took place in Paris, June 11 to 13, 2013, saw the approval of operational guidelines governing the use of the emblem of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions as well as the revised guidelines on using the resources of the International Fund for Cultural Diversity. In total, twelve articles of the Convention now incorporate operational guidelines.

At press time, 130 Parties (129 states and the European Union as a regional economic integration organization) had ratified the treaty. On June 4, 2013, Morocco deposited its ratification instrument with UNESCO and is now one of the 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

Audiovisual services excluded from the bargaining mandate for the E.U.–U.S. free trade agreement

In a press release dated June 17, 2013, the European Coalitions for Cultural Diversity hailed the European states’ decision on Friday, June 14 to refuse the inclusion of audiovisual services in the bargaining mandate for the free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States.

The European Coalitions expressed its appreciation to governments, heads of state, national parliaments, and the European parliament for working doggedly to obtain this victory for the cultural exception. They also thanked all media personalities, creators, and artists who came together across the continent to "say no" to a Europe that would abandon cultural support and allow commercial interests to take over its identity.

Annoyed by remarks made by Karel De Gucht, the European commissioner for trade who expressed a willingness to undertake discussions on audiovisual services if the Americans so wished, the European Coalitions urged that he "respect the letter of the mandate conferred on him by the [European] states, who have full democratic legitimacy, which expressly excludes audiovisual services." They also reminded Mr. De Gucht that "should he wish to take part in talks, he must reappear before the European Council of Ministers to seek their unanimous accord, which was effectively refused on June 14." 

The European Coalitions further called on the European Commission "not to overturn this democratic decision, and to accept all its consequences. This means setting aside its suspicions and constant questioning of cultural policies adopted by European Union member states."

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Recent Publications

UNESCO: Resolutions of the fourth ordinary session of the Conference of Parties

The fourth ordinary session of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions took place June 11 to 13, 2013, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

During this session, the Conference of Parties examined for the first time the first quadrennial periodic reports of the Parties to the Convention, as well as the Committee's work on the implementation of Article 21 of the Convention. In addition, it adopted a resolution requesting the Committee "to continue its work on the implementation of Article 21, taking into account its discussions and resolutions at the fourth session and to communicate the results thereof at its fifth ordinary session" (Resolution 4.CP 11).

The Conference of Parties also selected an emblem for the Convention and approved the operational guidelines governing the use of the emblem of the Convention, as well as the revised guidelines on using the resources of the International Fund for Cultural Diversity.

Finally, it renewed half of the members of the Intergovernmental Committee and defined its future activities, notably the examination of aspects of the development of digital technologies that have an impact on the Convention and the assessment of the involvement of civil society, including the work of the Convention’s statutory bodies (Resolution 4.CP 13).

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"Preliminary Reflection on the Implementation of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in the Digital Age"

The report "Preliminary Reflection on the Implementation of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in the Digital Age" was recently written by Véronique Guèvremont, Professor in the Faculty of Law and Institute for Advanced International Studies at Université Laval and co-founder of the International Network of Lawyers for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (Réseau international des juristes pour la diversité des expressions culturelles-RIJDEC).

The executive summary reads as follows:

"This report examines the impact of digital technologies on the way the diversity of cultural expressions is evolving and proposes a number of topics for discussion with a view to adapting the implementation of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions to the particularities of the digital environment.

While digital technologies offer extraordinary possibilities for enriching the diversity of cultural expressions, they also increase the risk of certain cultures remaining on the sidelines. Without the space and time restrictions of the "material world," these technologies allow a growing mass of "dematerialized" cultural expressions to circulate more freely and be more accessible to a broader public. The arrival of the digital age thus poses new challenges to States wishing to adopt and implement effective cultural policies and measures to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions in their territories and on the international scene.

The metamorphosis of the landscape in which cultural expressions now find themselves raises a number of questions concerning the adaptations required to effectively implement the 2005 Convention in this day and age. This study, however, rejects the idea of amending the instrument since such amendments to the text do not appear essential to the pursuit of the objectives of protecting and promoting cultural diversity in the digital world. While no provisions of the Convention explicitly mention digital technologies, the instrument implicitly conforms to the principle of technological neutrality. As such, the obligations of the Parties can be implemented regardless of the environment—material or virtual—in which the cultural expressions are produced and disseminated. An examination of its scope of application and the relevant definitions led to the same conclusion: the 2005 Convention allows the Parties to take the particularities of the digital cultural ecosystem into account when they adopt policies and measures to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions.

While the text and the operational guidelines make no mention of issues specific to the digital world, a discussion on ways to adapt or guide the implementation of the relevant provisions of the Convention should nonetheless be encouraged in order to ensure that the objectives set by the Parties can also be attained in the digital environment. The study has assembled these provisions into four topics that merit in-depth discussion: (1) adapting national cultural policies to the particularities of the digital environment; (2) taking the reality of the digital world into account when deploying measures to educate and raise the awareness of the public, increase the participation of civil society and integrate culture into sustainable development; (3) cooperating to accelerate the digital shift in developing countries, especially by transferring digital technologies, strengthening the capacity to use these technologies and increasing the availability of digital cultural expressions from these countries; and (4) promoting the objectives of the 2005 Convention in other relevant negotiation forums, especially in negotiations of bilateral, regional and multilateral trade agreements whose scope of application extends to digital products.

This report calls on the Parties to react promptly to the new challenges posed by the reality of the digital world when implementing the 2005 Convention. It also invites the Parties to reject any form of compartmentalized discussions and to favour an open approach in order to take into account the way digital technologies are influencing the evolution of other legal instruments, notably trade agreements, whose e-commerce provisions may have an impact on the diversity of digital cultural expressions."

To access the full report, please go to the Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity website.

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UIS Fact sheet: "Feature Film Diversity"

To mark UNESCO’s World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (May 21), the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) has published a new fact sheet on "Feature Film Diversity."

This fact sheet presents the latest data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) on feature films. The 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions advocates the development, collection, analysis and dissemination of statistics on the diversity of cultural expressions. Since 2007, the UIS has used its biennial feature film statistics survey to assess cultural diversity in cinema. Based on data for 52 countries from the 2012 survey, this fact sheet examines the diversity in film production and consumption.

To consult this publication, please visit UIS website.

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Culture, commerce et numérique, vol. 8, no 6

The July 2013 edition of the newsletter Culture, commerce et numérique features the following topics of special interest:

  • CDCE implementation—balancing digital issues and budget restrictions
  • Digital and cultural diversity: Digitalization means changing the way cultural expressions are viewed politically (by Heritiana Ranaivoson)
  • The cultural exception: The balance of power in a controversial issue
  • Where does culture fit on the agenda for post-2015 world development?
  • Mercosur for cultural rights
  • Greek public radio and television experience a brutal shutdown
  • International treaty adoption helps those with vision deficiencies access published works
  • A new U.S. strategic plan to protect intellectual property

The newsletter Culture, commerce et numérique (formerly Accords bilatéraux et diversité culturelle) is put together monthly by CEIM (Centre d’études sur l’intégration et la mondialisation) for the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF). Its main aim is to monitor the latest media content on U.S. initiatives regarding bilateral trade agreement negotiations, particularly the negotiation of clauses that could impact the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

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Cultural Policies and Measures – Best Practices

6th Nordic Conference on Cultural Policy Research

The cultural sector is in motion. The classic cultural institutions are being redefined and new types of institutions have appeared. Mediatization, including social media, that blurs the boundaries between producers and consumers, has created new types of artists, new art forms, new arenas and new forms of cultural communication and identity formation. But how does cultural policy follow along? What do these transformations entail for cultural policy and the theoretical foundation of cultural policy? These changes are the theme for the 6th Nordic Conference on Cultural Policy Research that will focus on the consequences of the mediatization and digitalization of culture with its diversity of forms and participation.

The conference is organized in collaboration with the Copenhagen Business School (CBS) and the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies at the Royal School of Library and Information Science (IVA). It will be held in Frederiksberg, Denmark, from August 14 to 16, 2013.

More details about the conference and registration can be found on the Nordic Conference on Cultural Policy Research website.

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2013 Cultural Diversity Award: Call for applications

This fall, for the third year, the French Coalition for Cultural Diversity will award a monetary prize for cultural diversity. A €3,000 prize will be awarded to a festival or initiative promoting access to culture and promoting cultural diversity in any form.

All cultural fields are eligible (written, audiovisual, live performance, music, etc.).

The deadline for applications is September 20, 2013.

For more details on this call for applications, please consult the French Coalition for Cultural Diversity website.

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World Social Science Forum 2013

The 2013 edition of the World Social Science Forum will take place October 13 to 15 in Montreal, Canada.

During the Forum, scholars from across the disciplines and around the world will come together to address the ways in which digital technologies are being developed and used, according to two thematic elements:

  • First thematic element: how digital technologies are transforming different spheres of social life
  • Second thematic element: how they are transforming the social sciences

The program includes a presentation entitled "Culture in the digital era: The case for a new international governance model" which will address the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Its summary reads as follows:

"The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions makes the States responsible for protecting and promoting cultural diversity, enabling them to legitimize public policy implementation and enact measures protecting cultural expressions within their boundaries. With information and communications technologies (ICT) developing apace, we are experiencing a social transformation driven by the deterritorialization of culture; as a result, the traditional governance model for protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions seems increasingly inadequate. In today’s environment, where cultural content can be produced and distributed largely unfettered, is the UNESCO agreement still an effective tool for achieving its objectives in the digital era? We suggest that it is time to rethink the way the diversity of cultural expressions is protected and promoted by scrutinizing the connection between culture and place and questioning the very concept of cultural expression in the digital era. We will demonstrate that the Internet is a "place" where individuals can become part of virtual cultural communities that are based on ideas, values, and symbols. The best way to protect the diversity of cultural expressions is to promote it by providing access to such "deterritorialized" spaces, which is why the Convention—more than ever before—represents an indispensable tool that must continue to evolve."

For the event program and other information, please visit the World Social Science Forum website.

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