This international conference will hold a broad-based debate on the concept of Cultural Diversity: What does it mean, where do dangers lie and where does it offer particular opportunities? How can the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions be brought to life by cooperation when it comes into effect on March 18th 2007?
What does this mean for the European Union? Together with representatives of the international civil society elements for a European action paper will be developed.
It is a particular challenge to make the cultural wealth and cultural diversity of Europe, borne out of a common European history, a truly effective foundation for the European process of integration. Cultural cooperation creates and strengthens cultural self-confidence, especially in times of globalisation. Cultural Diversity is therefore particularly important with regard to the political objective of an undivided Europe - united in diversity.
The decision of the EU Member States to stand together was a major factor in enabling these extremely complex negotiations on cultural diversity to be concluded with great success on October 25th 2005. The EU Member States are similarly united in their equal commitment to ratifying and putting the Convention into practice. The European Community will accede to the Convention as a contracting party, too.
Current negotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are inter alia concerned with cultural services. Despite their current stagnation, the dynamic of these negotiations may lead in the long term to the situation that targeted public support for artistic creation, cultural products and services could be regarded as distorting competition in the market, and thus, sanctions would be imposed. Although shades and degrees differ, there is broad consensus in the European Union that the arts do not simply form a market segment among many others, in which supply and demand will bring about the desired market structure, but that interference by means of cultural policy is needed.
In our understanding, culture is the expression of a society's dialogue with itself, a playful consideration of its own past, present and future. From this viewpoint, cultural politics gain their legitimisation to promote national or regional arts production. The protection and promotion of cultural diversity mean also to consider the public arena. An appropriate policy framework must be created in order to safeguard it against overarching penetration of both state regulation and market forces.
In the context of the current European ratification process of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005) the conference will hold a broad-based debate on the concept of Cultural Diversity by means of thematic fora on film, music, role of the civil society, north-south cooperation, urban public space and media politics. What does this concept means for Europe? How can the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity be brought to life? What task will be faced over the coming three years by governance and the state, and which by society at large? The conference is intended to elaborate ideas and proposals for a European action plan.
With regard to capacity building for young colleagues, in the context of a mentee programme U 40 / Cultural diversity 2030 a structured preparatory work with young experts should be conducted from February 2007. They will participate in the conference with a pre-workshop and their own forum.
Working languages : English, German and French
Organizer : German Commission for UNESCO in cooperation with the European Capital of Culture Ruhr 2010 office, Essen, sponsored by the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes), with the support of the State government of North-Rhine Westphalia, the German Federal Foreign Ministry and the European Commission.
Documents for the Conference
Places are limited