Vol. 11, No. 3, Monday, February 7, 2011
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 directives for implementing the Convention. Since then, four ordinary and two extraordinary sessions have been held, for a total of six.
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, 116 Parties (115 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.
The Inter-Parliamentary Conference on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CIDEC) concluded on February 3 in Québec City, Québec, Canada. This two-day meeting ended with the signing of a final declaration adopted by the 300 parliamentary delegates from La Francophonie. According to a press release:
"This conference was particularly significant, because the diversity of cultural expressions, intercultural dialogue, and cultural cooperation are core principles of the Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie (APF). The presentations and discussions were very impressive, resulting in a powerful final declaration that lays the groundwork for the effective implementation of this very important UNESCO Convention," stated Yvon Vallières, President of the National Assembly of Québec and President of APF.
APF members reiterated their unwavering support for the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted in 2005 and ratified by 115 states to date. The Convention emphasizes "the need to incorporate culture as a strategic element in national and international development policies."
As the conference concluded, a final declaration was adopted: the Québec City Declaration on the Commitment of La Francophonie Parliamentarians to Implement the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Among the highlights, APF members undertook to
- Adopt legal texts that promote the diversity of cultural expressions
- Monitor trade negotiations that affect the field of culture
They also called upon governments and heads of state to
- Use the full weight of the Convention in trade negotiations to defend their rights to adopt or maintain policies and measures that support and promote cultural expressions
- Actively support cooperation in development in order to grant preferential status to cultural artists, professionals, and agents as well as cultural goods and services in developing countries
- Make annual contributions to the International Fund for Cultural Diversity equal to 1% of their contributions to the organization
Finally, APF members requested that the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) inventory, study, and evaluate the cultural policies and programs implemented by its member states and governments in order to create a platform for sharing expertise and experience in cultural matters within the French-speaking world.
The conference was organized by the National Assembly of Québec and APF in collaboration with OIF and UNESCO. More information on the conference is available on the CIDEC 2011 website.
The full text of the declaration adopted during the conference is available on the APF website. Visitors will also find a host of information on the event, including lectures, photos, and press releases.
At the opening of the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, OIF Secretary-General, His Excellency Mr. Abdou Diouf, stressed his support for the ties created between OIF and UNESCO regarding the diversity of cultural expressions. He spoke of the concrete measures OIF has taken towards ratification of the Convention and the role played by parliamentarians in this matter:
"At every meeting of the leaders of La Francophonie I call upon the 20% of our states and governments who have not yet done so to ratify the UNESCO convention. Furthermore, from now on, states and governments applying for membership in La Francophonie must have ratified or be in the process of ratifying this Convention. I have no intention of breaking with this rule and I call upon all of you, ladies and gentlemen, to encourage your states to adhere en masse to this vital international instrument."
Mr. Diouf reminded parliamentarians that APF had worked to support the creation and mass ratification of the Convention in response to national, international, and transnational issues. "Today," he added, "our member states and government are called upon to ensure the Convention is implemented effectively and in full."
In his closing remarks, Mr. Diouf stated that "member states must believe in the Convention for it to be truly effective. Their conviction will lead them to seriously contribute to the International Fund for Cultural Diversity. Last month, the Fund's financial resources totaled $3.5 million. I will make only one comparison: the budget for a major Hollywood production can reach up to $300 million!"
The text of Mr. Abdou Diouf's speech is available on the OIF website.
During his visit to Québec City, Secretary-General Diouf was made a Grand Officer of the National Order of Québec.
In addressing participants in the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, Québec Minister of Culture, Communications and the Status of Women Christine St-Pierre reiterated the importance of implementing the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Here is an excerpt from her speech:
"Modern issues relating to the expression of the diversity of the world's cultures can be summarized as follows: The framework of international trade tends to undermine the ability of states and governments to fulfill their role of supporting culture and defending the interests of their citizens.
If this role were abandoned, the cultural sector would be ruled exclusively by market forces. This would effectively create one single homogenous culture defined entirely by economic pressures, which would be detrimental to 'less profitable' cultures lacking the resources and tools for expression [...].
However, in Québec and around the world, we know that cultural goods and services play a crucial role in identity, social cohesion, democratic life, and increasingly in economic development itself [...].
The Convention therefore stipulates that cultural activities, goods, and services have a dual economic and cultural nature because they convey identity, values, and meanings and must therefore not be treated as solely having commercial value.
As such, it was agreed that the Convention would include a commitment by the signatories to promote its objectives and principles in other international settings. [...] One of the next challenges facing the Parties to the Convention will be to ensure its full implementation by giving life to its content."
The full text of her speech is available in French on the MCCCF website (Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine du Québec).
As part of its mission of promoting cultural diversity and in the interest of applying the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, OIF is increasing its support for the implementation of public cultural policies.
"The goal of this new instrument is to help French-speaking states in developing countries to create frameworks conducive to cultural expression through legislation, regulation, and other tools to create an organized, competitive, and profitable market in the cultural sector.
This measure is part of OIF's 2010–2013 program and will be tested in four pilot countries chosen from among the 13 target states ( Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroun, Congo, Gabon, Morocco, Mauritius, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Chad, and Togo).
In order to select the pilot countries and ensure that this initiative gets underway successfully, the relevant authorities of the target states are invited to indicate their interest by submitting a portfolio as per program guidelines to OIF's French Language, Cultural Diversity, and Linguistics Branch.
As the program's active phase is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2011, submissions must be received by OIF no later than March 15."
At a press conference in late January, French Minister of Culture and Communications Frédéric Mitterrand discussed his intention to focus on "the diversity of our society and the promotion of cultural diversity in the digital age." According to Minister Mitterrand:
"It is universally accepted that globalization and the digital revolution are two of the biggest influences in modern cultural creation and practices. These two factors have an undeniable influence on the circulation of what we call cultural goods and services. However, it is also widely recognized that current mechanisms do not necessarily favor balanced cultural relations. Market demands for profitability conflict with the goal of giving creators the opportunity to be known and giving the public access to true cultural diversity. For our part, we wish to make 2011 the year of diversity. The pace of ratification of the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions is particularly encouraging. The Convention, for which France was an ardent advocate, lays a multilateral foundation for mutual respect between cultural and economic spheres, whose interdependence must be managed in a balanced manner. Policy decisions have a major impact on publishing, media and communications regulations, and fiscal issues relating to culture."
The full text of the minister's speech is available on the website of the Ministry of Culture and Communications of France.
April 1, 2011, is the deadline for submitting applications for the Ramon Roca Boncompte International Award for Cultural Management Studies in recognition of an analysis or field work in cultural management at the European level. Eligible works can be case studies, impact studies, comparative studies, or studies of cooperative efforts, cultural policies, structural analyses, professional typologies, R&D, etc. Studies must be written in Catalan, Spanish, or English and be a minimum of 60 pages.
The prize is €6,000. It is intended to help disseminate research in the field of cultural management at the European level.
For more information on this award, visit the Fira Tàrrega website.
In the scope of the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CIDEC) held recently in Québec City under the auspices of APF and the National Assembly of Québec in cooperation with OIF and UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova, of UNESCO, spoke with APF. The following is a summary.
General-Director Bokova stressed the importance of ratifying this standard-setting instrument, adding that two-thirds of the 75 members and observers of OIF have already done so. These countries represent 46% of the Parties to the Convention, which Bokova sees as a clear indication of OIF's commitment to cultural diversity. As further evidence of that commitment, she mentioned the Montreux Declaration, which urged states to join the Convention.
She also called on the Parties to contribute to the Fund, which is in dire need and which is intended to promote the emergence of a dynamic cultural sector in support of sustainable development and poverty reduction.
In her closing remarks, she stated that " La Francophonie dedicated itself to the creation and adoption of the Convention. The parliamentarians of La Francophonie now have a major role to play in implementing and monitoring the Convention and involving civil society in the process."
The full text of her speech is available on the website of the Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie.
The Centre for Strategy & Evaluation Services (CSES), in collaboration with the ERICarts Institute , has carried out a study to reveal the contribution of culture to economic and social development, particularly at the local and regional level. In an effort to share practical experience, over 80 case studies were collected, illustrating the various effects of culture-based development. The report provides detailed accounts of the effects of these projects supported by the European Union Structural Funds.
The final report, entitled Study on the Contribution of Culture to Local and Regional Development – Evidence from the Structural Funds is available in English. It can be downloaded on the website of the European Commission-Culture DG.
The book Cultural Diversity and the Law: State Responses from Around the World published by Éditions Yvon Blais and Bruylant includes a chapter entitled "Within The United Nations System, International Normative Action for Cultural Diversity: The Contribution of UNESCO," written by Jan Wouters and Maarten Vidal.
The essay traces the history of UNESCO's regulatory measures regarding cultural diversity, from soft law to the adoption of a restrictive Convention that legally binds the States Parties. The authors also examine the naming of the Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and shed light on the creative aspect of cultural diversity.
The January edition of the CapsulesMonde newsletter includes references to the following topics regarding globalization and culture:
Cultural and Creative Industries
CapsulesMonde is published by LEPPM (Laboratoire d'étude sur les politiques publiques et la mondialisation).
Festival Odyssées en Yvelines is a theater festival being held in France until April 2. According to the festival's website, "Every edition of Odyssées offers 7 creations, 300 theater performances in nearly 80 communes before almost 30,000 spectators over the year, and between 300 and 400 performances across France and Europe the following year. For its 8th edition, Odyssées en Yvelines takes an international perspective in an effort to showcase words, voices, and aesthetics from around the world through 7 creations originating in 9 countries from 4 continents, including Africa. [...] The decision to open our doors to the world and invite artists from every continent for the 8th edition of Odyssées en Yvelines was made to contribute to inter-cultural dialogue to allow children, adolescents, and adults to discover and hear voices from abroad."
Declaring that "the age of globalization has caused a massive shift in our reference points and has failed to provide new ones," Centre dramatique national de Sartrouville, which organizes the festival, opens the dialogue by giving artists a chance to be heard. A day of exchange on this social issue was held on January 29 in the form of a round table discussion on African culture. The theme was African Meeting: The challenge of disseminating texts and performances from countries with an oral tradition. A number of issues were addressed, such as disseminating texts in Africa, finding authors, publishing them, performing shows, facilitating audience access, and the accuracy of the representation of foreign cultures in Europe.
The Language of Art and Music is an international symposium taking place in Berlin February 17–20, 2011, to explore the potential for art and music to provide a neutral platform for cultural exchange. Artists and practitioners from the fields of film, performance art, literature, and music will share their perspectives alongside renowned academics and leading figures from international politics, diplomacy, civil society, and the private sector.
The use of culture and art to promote dialogue and understanding is an issue that, though the subject of much scholarly attention, has had little impact on the behavior and activities of national governments and other stakeholders in international relations. Moreover, whilst there is widespread agreement on the value of culture and art in raising awareness of cultural differences, there is less understanding of the potential for culture and art to offer a neutral platform for mutual cultural exchange, to transform cultural differences and unite people through emotions. The Language of Art and Music will work to bridge the gap between theory and practice by bringing together artists with academic experts from the field and key figures in international relations to discuss the importance of these artistic disciplines.
For more information, visit the Art as Cultural Diplomacy website.
At the behest of the Secretary-General of La Francophonie, the final declaration of the XIII Summit of La Francophonie held in Montreux in October provided for a World Forum on the French Language in spring 2012.
The forum is intended to highlight both the global nature of French and its role in modern realities and practices enjoyed by citizens, particularly young people, who recognize its usefulness and even its necessity.
This initiative will be undertaken in collaboration with the Government of Québec, who has offered to act as host. On February 5, Abdou Diouf, Secretary-General of La Francophonie, announced the appointment of Michel Audet as Commissioner-General of the first World Forum on the French Language.
"Mr. Audet was a natural choice for the position, because throughout his career he has shown a commitment to promoting and securing the place of the French language," stated Mr. Diouf.
Michel Audet currently represents Québec before the Permanent Delegation of Canada to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
On January 14–29, Unifrance, the organization tasked with promoting French cinema abroad, held the world's first film festival created specifically for the Web. On its website, My French Film Festival describes itself as "an innovative concept, a new way of sharing your love of French cinema with Internet users all over the world," and states that "the festival included a competition among 10 features and 10 shorts by young French filmmakers. The festival was presented in 10 languages. Both the website and films (available for a fee through video-on-demand) are available in German, English, Arabic, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Russian. The Korean version is available on the website of our Korean partner, KT."
According to the website of France's Ministry of Culture and Communications, "This festival is an attempt to reach a more geographically dispersed and younger film audience. There are two reasons for this. First, video-on-demand is a major new feature of media consumption in recent years. Second, it is becoming increasingly difficult to see French films in theaters in foreign countries, due in large part to declining numbers of art house theaters and the rise of multiplexes that mainly feature American or local productions."