As the meeting on UNESCO’s Convention on Cultural Diversity gets underway in Paris, representatives of cultural producers are lobbying hard to strengthen the Convention. The following comments were made by the International Liaison Committee of the Coalitions for Cultural Diversity at their meeting in Paris, January 26, and 27 2005.
The Committee adopted the following position on the Convention which it proposes to rename "Convention on the protection, the promotion and the development of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions".
The Coalitions consider that it is essential to admit in international law the sovereign right of the States to develop, implement and to maintain cultural policies intended to ensure a space for national cultural creation. The central objective of the Convention must be to register clearly and unambiguously the sovereign right of States to adopt their own cultural policies. The Convention itself must be a tool for international co-operation in favour of cultural development and not simply a return to the cooperation agreements which States conclude between themselves.
The Coalitions propose that article 13 is formulated in order to urge the States categorically to refrain from giving undertakings in other forums which would be against the objectives of Convention. The Convention should not be subordinated to other international agreements.
It is considered essential that the Convention is adopted by the next General Conference of UNESCO which will be held in October 2005. Indeed, the significant pressures exerted on culture require that the Convention is adopted before the conclusion of the trade negotiations with the WTO and that the proliferation of bilateral free trade agreements including culture do not make the Convention objectively meaningless. It is thus essential that States refrain from making requests and offers of liberalization within the framework of bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations now in progress. The full text (in French) is available at http://www.mediatrademonitor.org/