During the four days of work, the members of the Committee* established working methods and rules of procedure and exchanged views on ways to develop international cooperation and reinforce the role of civil society in the implementation of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005).
In a message to the Intergovernmental Committee, the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, stressed that “the promotion of cultural diversity has been one of the Organization’s major priority objectives since its creation. The 2005 Convention, the latest instrument adopted by UNESCO in the field of culture, completes the standard-setting basis on which our Organization is to achieve this aim.”
“The time for reflection and debate is over, the time has come for action,” declared Françoise Rivière, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture. “The most pressing needs concern operational projects aimed at fostering the emergence of an enabling environment for cultural industries through partnerships that enable an exchange of knowledge and best practices, with respect for the equal dignity of cultures, which is a governing principle of the Convention.” She went on: “We should be aware that the Convention will only be an effective pillar of global governance if international solidarity is asserted powerfully.”
The use of resources from the International Fund for Cultural Diversity, consisting mainly of voluntary contributions made by the Convention’s Parties but also calling on other partners and the private sector, was another item on the agenda. “The Fund will support cooperation on sustainable development and foster the emergence of a dynamic cultural sector, while addressing the specific needs of developing countries,” stated Josée Verner, Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages, in her address. She announced that Canada plans to contribute $500,000 to the Fund for 2008-2009. Christine Saint-Pierre, Quebec’s Minister of Culture, Communications and Status of Women, then added that Quebec is pledging $100,000 to the Fund.
Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions recognizes that cultural activities, goods and services have a twin nature, economic and cultural and that they must therefore not be treated as solely having commercial value. It is therefore designed to establish a legal framework that takes this dual nature into account. Since its adoption by UNESCO’s General Conference in October 2005, it has been ratified at unprecedented speed for a cultural legal instrument. To date, it numbers 76 Parties from every region in the world, including 75 States and the European Community, which ratified the text as a regional economic integration organization.
On 21 May 2008, UNESCO will celebrate World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development worldwide with artists from all regions, to illustrate the need to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions.
*Albania, Austria, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, China, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, India, Lithuania, Luxembourg; Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Oman, Saint Lucia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa and Tunisia.
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