Cultural diversity

Monitoring Convention Ratification

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, and the President of the General Conference, Ambassador Musa Bin Jaafar Bin Hassan, signed on 9 December 2005, the text of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted at the 33rd session of the General Conference last October 20, 2005. This signature certifies the six language versions of the Convention, thus opening the path for its ratification by Member States. The Convention will enter into force three months after its ratification by 30 States Parties.

Already, Canada has become the first State to ratify this Convention

Why must States ratify this Convention?

Several national and international promoters as well commonly agree in recognizing that pressures regarding the diversity of cultural expressions become more and more numerous in the present context of free trade exchanges and technological developments. They indeed underline that trade agreements have been placing increasing pressure on countries to give up their right to have cultural policies to ensure their citizens have access to their own culture, as well as culture from other countries around the world. This is why the UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions is so important:

  • The result of a long process of maturation, including numerous meetings of independent and then governmental experts, as emphasized by l’UNESCO, the Convention establishes internationally the recognition of the sovereign right for States and Governments to draw up and implement cultural policies allowing the development of strong cultural sectors which may contribute to a genuine cultural diversity nationally and internationally. It further emphasizes the importance of overture to other world cultures, in the same manner as it reaffirms the links binding culture, development and dialogue, and creates an innovative platform for international cooperation.
  • It recognizes the distinctive nature of cultural goods and services as transmitters of value, identity, and meaning that transcend their commercial dimension. Therefore, as soon as it takes effect, it will become possible to use it as a reference instrument for those States undergoing pressures to liberalize their cultural sectors, be it at the World Trade Organization (WTO) or during bilateral or multilateral negotiations.
  • The Convention will also be used as an international forum to debate the challenges set to the diversity of cultural expressions and to the sensitive sector of cultural policies that support it . Through the follow up and implementation instruments that it sets up, it will thus create an appropriate momentum for solving the problems encountered by the States who would wish to embrace cultural policies.
  • The Convention will furthermore become a cooperation lever with developing countries that strive at creating durable cultural industries on their territory.

The Convention will enter into force three months after the registering date of the thirtieth ratification instrument. In order for the first Conference of the Parties to meet as quickly as possible, that is within the next UNESCO General Conference as soon as Fall 2007, the thirtieth ratification instrument should be registered on June 30, 2007 at the latest, thus allowing the Convention to become effective on September 30.

For the Convention to have a real scope, ratifications should rapidly come from a large number of States and from all regions of the world: Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. On one hand, the larger the number of Parties to the Convention the more the Convention shall take its due place into the international law system, and the more its objectives and the means to attain them shall become recognized, on the other hand .

In our future issues, we will progressively indicate, as soon as possible, the States that have ratified the Convention or pledged to do so, thus allowing you to have a better follow up of that progress.