Cultural diversity

Message from the Minister Hélène David

Ministre Hélène David.

Ten years have gone by since the signing of UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Ten years of respecting the very essence of the peoples of the world—their unique cultures. Ten years of building bridges between peoples and fostering the diversity of cultural expressions. I’m happy to see that the adoption of this convention has brought about real, significant advances in the evolution of humanity.

Together with our civil society, the Government of Québec has ardently promoted the cause of the diversity of cultural expressions, not only at home and within Canada, but also within a number of international forums. Our government played a major role in drafting, adopting, and ratifying the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. For us, November 16, 2005, is a historic moment. On that day Québec took on a leading role, becoming the first government in the world to approve the Convention. As of October 20, 2015, the Convention has been ratified by 139 States, as well as the European Union.

Under an agreement signed in 2006, Québec has full representation within the Canadian delegation to UNESCO and is active in developing and drafting Canada’s positions. Québec also attends and speaks at the annual meetings of the Convention bodies—the Intergovernmental Committee and the Conference of Parties. Through its representative, Line Beauchamp, Québec also promotes its interests and expertise during UNESCO work sessions and conferences and with UNESCO executive members.

I’m proud of Québec’s key role in acknowledging, at an international level, the sovereign right of States and governments to adopt cultural measures and policies. Representatives of the Québec government exerted significant pressure to include an explicit reference to the Convention in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union; they also worked to uphold the commitments of the parties under the Convention, including the right of governments to preserve, develop, and implement policies in support of culture and cultural industries.

Over the last few years, the governments of Québec, Canada, and France have actively promoted the need for the Convention bodies to address the issue of digital communication as it relates to the diversity of cultural expressions. I was therefore very pleased to observe, at the last session of the Conference of Parties in June 2015, that our efforts had paid off. The Intergovernmental Committee was recently tasked with drafting operational guidelines on digital communications and the diversity of cultural expressions. These guidelines—a kind of roadmap for implementation of the Convention—will be a great tool for preserving the Convention’s principles and objectives in the digital age.

Québec advocates the growth of cultural industries in developing countries, believing that true diversity of cultural expressions can be achieved only through the contribution of the Southern countries signatory to the Convention.

The International Fund for Cultural Diversity is the main instrument for stimulating cooperation with Southern countries in the context of the Convention. States contributions to this fund are voluntary and currently stand at US$7.6 million, with Canada contributing C$694,000. The Québec government just announced a third $50,000 contribution to the Fund: Ministère de la Culture et des Communications and Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie will contribute $20,000 each, while Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and Société de développement des entreprises culturelles will each give $5,000. The goal of this contribution is to help the Fund promote sustainable development and reduce poverty in developing countries by financing projects that will help build a dynamic cultural sector.

On this 10th anniversary, may all the parties to the Convention reaffirm their commitment to its implementation in all environments—including digital. Let’s take this celebration as a special opportunity to gather our strength, the better to meet the challenges ahead and persevere in the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions—at home and abroad—for at least another ten years. Let’s work for the future. Let’s continue, with the same energy and unwavering motivation, to safeguard the cultures of the world, for harmonious globalization and infinite diversity.