UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity

Source: UN News
As examples of the kind of cultural consolidation threatened by globalization, UNESCO notes that 50 per cent of the world languages are in danger of extinction and that 90 per cent of them are not represented on the Internet. In addition, five countries monopolize the world cultural industries. In the field of cinema, for instance, 88 countries have never had their own film productions. Besides promoting diversity in those areas, the Convention seeks to reaffirm the links between culture, development and dialogue and to create a platform for international cooperation, including the creation of an international fund for cultural diversity. [see more]
On 20 October 2005 the Unesco General Conference adopted the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CCD). 148 countries approved it, while two countries -the United States and Israel- voted against it and four abstained. The approval of this important international treaty, which seeks to protect and promote cultural diversity, is considered to be a moral victory in the long-running fight to preserve the world's cultural richness.

The Convention enters into force in March 2007, following its ratification by a sufficient number of countries. The required number of 30 ratifications was reached on 18 December 2006 when the Community, joined by twelve Member States deposited their instruments of ratification at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

The Unesco Convention sets out common rules, principles and points of reference for cultural diversity at global level. It is the first time the international community has been able to reach such a consensus on these questions. The text makes a considerable contribution to recognising the role and legitimacy of public policies in protecting and promoting cultural diversity, to recognising the importance of international cooperation and promoting this to deal with cultural vulnerabilities, especially in developing countries, and to defining appropriate links with other international instruments that enable the Convention to be implemented effectively. Moreover, the Convention represents a new platform for tackling culture in the wider context of sustainable development.

During the preparatory process, NGO networks like the International Network on Cultural Diversity (INCD) and the campaign for Communication Rights in the Information Society (CRIS) called for broad civil society support for the CCD, but warn that the Convention should not be subordinated to the WTO and should be written to support cultural and media diversity inside countries, not only between them. Otherwise, the Convention would only serve the interests of national media companies against the biggest transnationals, rather than true, bottom-up media diversity.

The role of communication in the struggle for protection of cultural diversity was also a matter of discussion in the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) held in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005. Unfortunately, many of the most crucial issues such as the importance of media pluralism or the concept of information as a global public good were left un-discussed at the UNESCO Convention. Lack of participation of civil society groups, especially from the south, weaken the possibility of a real plan of action to preserve cultural diversity, although the Convention helped to bring culture back to the international agenda and encourage national authorities to assume responsibility on the matter.
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Wednesday, February 07 2007
UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity comes into force
(Source: UN News)
Wednesday, March 22 2006
UNESCO adopts convention to protect diversity
(Source: IPS)
Monday, October 24 2005
UNESCO must say no to cultural imperialism
(Source: IPS)


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International Network for Cultural Diversity (INCD)

Coalition for Cultural Diversity (CCD)

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The cultural diversity debate in current multilateral processes (WSIS Papers)

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UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity comes into force (UN News)

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