Vol. 9, no 28, Monday, August 31, 2009
Efforts to implement the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions are underway!
We are delighted to present this edition of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions News Bulletin.
We wish to inform you that starting in September, the Bulletin will be published every two weeks. Consequently, the next Bulletin will be issued Monday, September 14 in French and Wednesday, September 16 in English and Spanish.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your loyalty. We are delighted to note that the Bulletin is read on a monthly basis in over 130 countries. Happy reading!
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 third ordinary session of the Intergovernmental Committee will be held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris from December 7 to 11, 2009.
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 nine articles of the Convention. The Intergovernmental Committee was mandated to continue developing operational directives.
At press time, 100 Parties (99 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.
On August 12 in Bogotá, Mexico’s National Council for Culture and the Arts (CONCULTA) and Colombia’s Ministry of Culture signed a memorandum of agreement regarding cultural exchange and cooperation. The agreement was signed in the presence of Mexican president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and Colombian president Álvaro Uribe Vélez.
According to the CONACULTA website, the agreement seeks to develop, strengthen, and mutually benefit national cultural systems in Mexico and Colombia through the exchange of experiences, cooperation, and cultural and artistic dialogue.
To achieve these goals, the two countries will cooperate in the areas of cultural management, arts training, cultural economics, and community appropriation of culture.
The agreement also calls for strengthening ties of collaboration in the following areas: technical assistance for cultural training, management, organization, and planning, as well as for the development of strategies to promote community participation in cultural programs and decentralization; the participation of experts in cinema, the performing and visual arts, music, literature, radio, television, and any other means of communication or new technology in festivals, meetings, and cultural award programs in both countries in order to share their experience as jury members or presenters.
The agreement will also promote cooperation and the organization of activities for libraries, museums, exhibitions, and literacy promotion; exchanges of cultural managers, artists, directors, and producers; and technical assistance for archeology and anthropology research, field work, and the organization of workshops and symposiums.
On December 3 and 4, Cape Town will host the First Conference on Cultural Organizations in Times of Economic Crisis. The event will be headed by the universities of Cape Town, Stockholm, and Innsbruck. The call for papers for the conference is under way.
According to the University of Cape Town website, “The conference discusses and reflects the relationship of culture, arts, and management in times of economic crises. The current global financial meltdown has slashed the myth of unrestricted liberalism and forced governments to actively support their former flagships of endless economic growth. These emergency actions have far-reaching consequences.”
A special invitation has been extended to specialists and practitioners from non-Western cultural communities. “In order to enable an interdisciplinary dialogue, the call addresses researchers from all disciplines and faculties targeting one of the following topics:
The abstract submission deadline is September 15. Scholarships are available to participants from African countries. For more information on the event, please visit the University of Cape Town website.
We are pleased to announce the publication of the English version of the study The Relationship Between the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and Other International Instruments: The Emergence of a New Balance in the Interface Between Commerce and Culture by Professor Ivan Bernier.
We would also like our readers to know that the French version of this study was just updated to take into account recent developments. In July, the Bulletin published the introduction to this study, as follows:
“Although Section V of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which addresses the Convention’s relationship to other instruments, only contains two articles (20 and 21), it is undeniably the section that sparked the most debate during negotiations. Its drafting was the source of lively discussions in the plenary conference and in the working group set up to reach a consensus on the relationships to be established between the Convention and other instruments. It is no surprise, therefore, that the definitive wording for articles 20 and 21 was not adopted until the very end of the negotiations.
“Two visions divided the States. Seeing in the Preliminary Draft of the Convention a veiled attempt to remove culture from the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) purview, certain countries voiced a desire to have it expressly stipulated in the future Convention that trade commitments would take precedence over the cultural commitments of the Parties to the Convention. However, for the vast majority of States, cultural goods and services could not be considered exclusively as merchandise or consumer goods because they convey identities, values, and meanings. In their eyes, culture must have a legitimate place next to the other concerns of the WTO. Reaching a consensus meant ensuring that the text of the official Convention clearly established the absence of any relation of subordination between itself and other international agreements. In other words, a new balance between commerce and culture had to be found.
“These seemingly irreconcilable positions made for intensive legal wrangling. As we will see, the text that was finally adopted contains a certain amount of ambiguity, but faithfully reflects the desire shared by the vast majority of States to exclude any form of subordination between the Convention and the other treaties to which they are party without compromising other treaty commitments they have made.
“In the following pages, we will first analyze the content of Article 20, entitled ‘Relationship to other treaties: mutual supportiveness, complementarity, and non-subordination,’ to highlight its progressive character as an interpretative provision. Next, we will look at Article 21, entitled “International consultation and coordination,” which supplements Article 20 by stipulating that the Parties must promote the Convention’s objectives and principles in other international forums, and consult each other on the matter as needed. We will take a closer look at the role of the Intergovernmental Committee in this respect and examine the procedures and other mechanisms that could be implemented to meet these commitments.”
The UNESCO website has posted the wording of the operational guidelines adopted during the second session of the Conference of Parties on June 15 and 16, 2009. These operational guidelines concern the following articles of the Convention:
Texts are available in English and French on the UNESCO website.
The European Audiovisual Observatory has published an IRIS Spécial on issues tied to transposition of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive into national law. On its website, the Observatory indicates that this edition “discusses the importance of this task for general concepts and key definitions contained in the Directive. On the basis of these concepts, it looks at practical issues and possible solutions that are emerging in the transposition arrangements of the various EU member states. Finally, it examines a number of subsidiary regulatory and monitoring issues.
“In this discussion, it becomes clear on the one hand how big the differences in the transposition of the Directive from one state to another are and to what extent the different legal traditions of individual states have an impact. Numerous examples make it clear that the, in some cases, broadly defined concepts and targets of the Directive leave room for different national solutions, especially in the case of non-linear services. On the other hand, attention is also drawn to the fact that the current regulatory culture in some EU member states will change since a number of the Directive’s provisions will result in the lasting adaptation and simplification of their legislation.”
Implementation of the objectives and priorities of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive is discussed using examples such as the promotion of cultural diversity and limits to advertising.
This work is available in English, French, and German and may be ordered from the European Audiovisual Observatory.
Les Éditions Montchrestien in Paris recently published Médias et sociétés : édition, presse, cinéma, radio, télévision, Internet. This overview of the history and development of various media and the laws that govern them discusses their position, role, and impact in contemporary society.
The publisher states that this 840 page work “disrupts the media landscape: printed books and newspapers fear for their future; radio and television are already building on digital networks and terminals; movies and software are now as readily available online as music.
“For news and entertainment, communication and education, cultural creation and diversity, a new era has begun under the combined impact of the digital revolution and economic globalization. Which rules are the media—old and new—following? How are they influencing individuals, communities, international life? Can they help ‘civilize’ the global village? Today, the media are among the best tools for observing and understanding the world we live in. By dismissing those who denounce the rampant Americanization of culture and those who laud multiculturalism, this book offers a different perspective on relations between the media and the communities that make up society. Reworked and updated, the 14th edition of Médias et sociétés answers each of these questions.”
This fall Québec will be the guest of honor at one of the world’s largest multidisciplinary festivals: Festival Internacional Cervantino in Guanajuato, Mexico. Some twenty Québec companies and artists will put on forty-odd performances, in addition to film and visual art presentations.
“Québec’s exceptional cultural vitality crosses borders all over the world. With Québec as guest of honor at this prestigious festival, a number of our artists will be able to present rich, diverse, and bold programming that is sure to captivate Mexican audiences. Artists will also have a unique opportunity to meet program organizers from the Spanish-speaking world,” said Christine St-Pierre, Québec Minister of Culture, Communications and the Status of Women.
Pierre Arcand, Minister of International Relations and Minister responsible for La Francophonie, added, “Today, the place of honor given to Québec talent at this prestigious festival attests to Québec’s strong ties and wonderful relations with the State of Guanajuato and Mexico. For a number of years, we have been building alliances and cooperating based on our common interests, and culture is a key sector.”
The 37th edition of Festival Internacional Cervantino will take place October 14 to November 1, 2009. The popularity of this festival—recognized as the leading artistic event in Latin America— extends well beyond Mexico’s borders, as it is also among the largest multidisciplinary festivals in the world. Bringing together more than 2,000 artists from some thirty countries, it is now a cornerstone of art and culture.
The Africa e Mediterraneo Association is launching the 2009–2010 Award for Best Unpublished Comic Strip by African Author. This fifth edition of the award consists of three sections: free subject, sport, and poverty. Submissions must be received by December 15. For more information, please visit the Association website.
Works from 78 countries will grace Montréal screens for the 2009 World Film Festival from August 27 to September 7. According to the World Film Festival (WFF) press release, these films comprise “a program that is eclectic in ways that include their origins, their sources of inspiration, their system of reference, and their styles. Discoveries are guaranteed. Two hundred and forty features (including 130 world and international premieres, 43 North American premieres, and 29 Canadian premieres), 9 medium-length films, and 208 short films will be presented.”
The Focus on World Cinema section includes 106 features and 70 short films. The WFF asserts that this is “the most diversified section, with films from all continents, works from familiar sources, and some quite unfamiliar, new, emerging cinemas. All genres are represented: adventure, love stories, experimental works, films noirs, suspense melodrama, poetic meditations, etc. Beyond the countries that continue to produce quality films (Germany, France, Canada, Spain, Japan...), this section is where you can judge the health of such cinemas as those of Russia, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, the Baltic countries, Indonesia, the Philippines, etc.”
For more information on event programming, please visit the Festival website.