Cultural diversity

Québec's commitment to promote and preserve the diversity of cultural expressions

The Québec government has been highly active in the past few years, both at home and abroad, in highlighting the importance of promoting and preserving cultural diversity around the world. It helped launch, here in Québec, the Coalition for Cultural Diversity, a coalition that originated within Québec's cultural community, but that now stretches across Canada. The Coalition is today a key figure within the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (IFCCD), founded in Seville, Spain, in 2007. The IFCCD includes among its founding members 42 national cultural diversity coalitions, which bring together more than 600 professional cultural organizations representing creators, artists, producers, independents, distributors, broadcasters, and publishers from the book, film, television, music, live entertainment, and visual arts fields. The Québec government has also defended cultural diversity at various international forums, including the International Organisation of the Francophonie, UNESCO, and the International Network on Cultural Policy.

This Website is an integral part of the Québec government's awareness campaign in favor of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The government's position on the matter was first made official in the ministerial statement of June 16, 1999, which included declarations to the effect that “it is essential that the ability of states and governments to support and promote culture be internationally recognized (...)” and that culture “must be accorded special status with regard to international trade agreements (...).” This status “must be defined by specific regulations in a convention or any other appropriate international instrument.” The declaration laid down the terms that are helping determine the future of cultural diversity around the world today.

On September 3, 2003, the Cabinet approved a memorandum updating the Government of Québec’s position on cultural diversity. This position was made public in a press release on September 19 of that year, the thrust of which is as follows:

  • Québec wants to maintain its full right to intervene in support of culture through its policies.
  • Québec will refuse to make commitments to liberalization and will have recourse to the means necessary to preserve its policies within the framework of all trade negotiations (WTO, FTAA, bilateral agreements, etc.) and the liberalization of trade and investment each time questions raised may affect Québec’s ability to take action to support culture.
  • Québec supports the adoption of an international convention on cultural diversity entrenching the rights of countries and governments to maintain, develop, and implement policies supporting culture and cultural diversity.
  • This international convention must define rights applicable to cultural diversity while also stressing openness to other cultures and cultural expression.
  • This international convention must create parallel rights to international trade rights, not subordinate rights, and must include an efficient dispute settlement mechanism.
  • Québec supports the adoption of an international convention on cultural diversity by UNESCO.

That’s why Québec was so thrilled when the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions was adopted on October 20, 2005, and when it come into effect on March 18, 2007.

UNESCO formally adopted the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions on October 20, 2005. Less than a month later, on November 10, Québec became the first government in the world to approve the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Saluting the unanimous National Assembly vote in favor of the government’s motion to ratify, Premier Jean Charest declared that Québec had “stepped up as a leader in the defense of the special nature of culture in international trade negotiations, today it has become the first government in the world to approve the Convention. I am proud of this unanimous vote, which illustrates the attachment Quebecers feel toward our creative talents.” The Convention came into effect on March 18, 2007.

Since then, Québec has continued to garner support for the Convention and its ratification by as many states as possible and is actively involved in its implementation. To do so, it has a seat on the Intergovernmental Committee and the Conference of Parties as a member of Canada’s permanent UNESCO delegation. Through a historic agreement regarding Québec’s jurisdiction in international forums signed on May 5, 2006, between the Québec and Canadian governments, Québec can speak with its own voice in deliberations, meetings, and conferences. It also has a hand in developing Canadian positions.