Thursday, November 11, 2004

CRIS Campaign calls for Strengthening of UNESCO Cultural Diversity Convention

The following appeal is from the Campaign for Communication Rights in the Information Society (CRIS). As a member of CRIS, SIGNIS has contributed to the drafting of this document.

If you are concerned about cultural diversity please read the document and consider supporting it. Based on these points, on November 15th the CRIS campaign will submit concrete suggestions to UNESCO for changes to the draft Convention.

Please take the time to read the CRIS comments and, if you agree, add your organization to the list of signatories.

The CRIS comments, and a form for adding your signature, can be found at :

UNESCO is currently drafting a new international agreement on cultural diversity: the Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions.

This Convention was originally designed to ensure that culture, in the age of globalized culture industries, is not reduced to a commodity. Its aim is to allow each country to implement cultural, media, and communications policies that foster cultural diversity.

However, some governments have proposed dangerous revisions that would transform the draft Convention into an instrument that expands corporate ownership of culture.

The campaign for Communication Rights in the Information Society (CRIS) is calling on civil society organizations to join us in taking the following stand on the Convention:

· First, the Convention must not be made subordinate to existing or future trade agreements. To do so would defeat its purpose.

· Second, it should be designed to not only protect diversity of national and regional cultural industries, but to protect the cultural diversity and the communication rights of all peoples.

· Third, it must balance any references to the protection of intellectual property rights with reference to protection of the cultural commons. Otherwise, references to intellectual property rights should be removed altogether.