Vol. 6, no 17, Monday, May 15, 2006
Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions: The ratification phase is now underway!
Speech by Québec prime minister Jean Charest
Photo : Paul Ducharme
IN THIS ISSUE :
The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions has been adopted at the 33rd session of the General Conference last October 20, 2005 , by the UNESCO Member States. So that it may become effective, 30 States must ratify it.
Up to now, Canada and the Republic of Mauritius are the first States to have ratified this Convention.
Besides, the President of the Burkinabe Coalition for cultural diversity, Mr. Rasmané Ouedraogo, informs us that the National Assembly of Burkina-Faso unanimously adopted this May 2 the Law authorizing ratification of this Convention. Upon that occasion he urges his colleagues responsible for national coalitions in Africa to redouble efforts towards ratification of the Convention without any delay.
In other respects, a number of countries, among which Cambodia, have already approved the principle of ratification of the Convention according to their domestic legislation and are about to officially deposit their ratification instrument with the Director General of UNESCO. Other countries such as Mali , France , Belgium , Moldavia , the Popular Republic of Congo, have also set in motion the legislative process leading to ratification. We will keep you informed as ratifications go along.
Why must States ratify this Convention? To find out about it, consult the January 16th issue of our Bulletin
Last May 9, at the National Assembly, when consulted during the Funds Study of the Ministry of International Relations , Québec Minister of International Relations Monique Gagnon-Tremblay indicated that immediately upon the adoption of the UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions on October 20, 2005, the Québec Government initiated a diplomatic campaign to maintain mobilization of the international community in favor of its ratification, so that this Convention might be enforced before the Thirty Fourth Session of the General Conference of UNESCO, on 2007. Concurrently, the Government of Québec carries on its close and fruitful partnership with civil society, among which the Coalition for Cultural Diversity.
Answering a question on the United States attitude towards the Convention, Minister Gagnon-Tremblay declared: « we do not underestimate finally the pressure that the United States exerts on other countries by signing bilateral agreements (on free trade). But, at the same time, as well, we try to better explain the range of cultural diversity and even for Americans too ».
In other respects, the Government of Québec hopes that UNESCO "will get more involved into the ratification of the Convention" and will understand "the importance of assisting countries in ratifying it". At the same time, the Government of Québec relies upon ambassadors from different countries at UNESCO "to also exert pressure so that we may secure this ratification".
The 5th General Assembly of PANARTES was held last March 30 and 31 in Buenos Aires , Argentina with the participation of 70 representatives from 15 countries. At the issue of this meeting, the Assembly adopted several resolutions related to the sector of the arts and media, among which the development of the media in the Americas and the stakes of this field in other parts of the world.
The Assembly expressed support in large numbers on the need for an early ratification of the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions by the UNESCO Member States , as well as on the promotion of pluralism of the media and of public radio and television. To that effect, it adopted a resolution on the ratification of this Convention.
On that occasion, emphasizing the necessity of obtaining 30 ratifications, in order for the Convention to be enforced, the Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Coalition for cultural diversity Robert Pilon reiterated the importance for States to abstain from taking any liberalization engagement within the sector of culture goods and services in the framework of WTO negotiations or of any free trade exchange.
PANARTES is the Pan American organization of the UNI-MEI (Union Network International-Media, Entertainment & Arts). UNI-MEI represents more than 130 union organizations from the sector of the arts, audiovisual, culture, entertainment and media around the world.
Sources (in Spanish only):
In its last May 11 edition, L'Orient-Le Jour reports that a new discussion round between the United States and the United Arab Emirates about a free trade agreement (FTA) was ended prematurely after two days of negotiations, and without any new date being set for resuming them. The discussions, undertaken in March 2005, were to lead towards the conclusion of an FTA between both countries, but as reported by the newspaper Al-Hayat " the United Arab Emirates were reticent to pressures on the part of Washington for opening the country to American investments without resorting to a local partner, as presently required".
Source: L'Orient-Le Jour (in French only)
The Vietnamese Information Agency (AVI) reports that the representatives of 21 Member States of the Asia Pacific Forum for Economic Cooperation (APEC) will meet again from May 22 to 30 in Ho Chi Minh-Ville in Vietnam to discuss notably on international commerce and investment, free trade and economic cooperation. In the course of this meeting, they will study the subjects having to do with WTO and the bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements, a well as liberalization activities and making easier commerce and investment of APEC.
According to RISAL (Réseau d'information et de solidarité avec l'Amérique latine), negotiations of the free trade agreement between Ecuador and the United States have come to a deadlock while at the same time the Southern Cone Common Market (Mercosur) has reached a crisis; the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) is being threatened with fragmentation; the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) does not yet represent an alternative; and the South American Community of Nations (CSN) does not take off.
In this respect, the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez decided for his country to abandon the CAN because he considers belonging to the Andean alliance incompatible with signing free trade agreements (FTA) with the United States , as Colombia and Peru did on February 27 and April 12, respectively. According to him, the crisis of already existing agreements such as CAN and Mercosur is positive since it will justify regional integration to be redefined more widely and completely.
Within the framework of the International Day of the Book and Copyright, celebrated last April, a seminar on the national policy of the book and reading was held from May 8 to 11 in Kinshasa (Democratic republic of Congo-RDC), This event was considered "a major support to the growth of culture".
Inaugurating this meeting, the Congolese Minister of Culture and Arts, Mr. Philémon Mukendi, regretted the fact that the culture of reading in RDC is not be accessible to all, in spite of the important role played by the book towards socialization of citizens, by giving them equal opportunities to achieve cultural, economic and political emancipation
The Director General of the National Library of Congo (Bnc), Mr. Georges Mulumba, asserted on his part that the book is at the center of a large chain of activities and professions directly or indirectly generating revenues, making up a leading industrial component which must contribute to the economic, social and cultural development of the whole of the countries and of their populations.
According to the Representative of France, the book production and reading promotion contribute to dissemination and perpetuation through time and space of different identities in the world. However, he emphasized the threat that hovers on the book and copyright, estimating that the book's future is a matter that calls upon every component of society. In his view, the arrival of new information and communication technologies (Ntic) must not overshadow diffusion of the book. Book dissemination is therefore a cardinal point within the promotion of cultural diversity. To that purpose, he calls upon RDC to create an incentive framework for book promotion.