CONFERENCE ADOPTS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ON CULTURAL DIVERSITY
Paris, November 2 (No.2001-120)
– UNESCO’s governing body – the General Conference – today adopted the
UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, a text about which
Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura expressed hope that it can “one day
acquire as much force as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
Matsuura declared: “At a time when some might see a clash of cultures in the
current international situation, UNESCO’s Member States, convening for the
Organization's 31st General Conference, adopted by acclamation today the
Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, reaffirming their conviction that
intercultural dialogue is the best guarantee of peace, thus categorically
rejecting the idea that conflicts between cultures and civilisations are
is the first time the international community has endowed itself with such a
comprehensive standard-setting instrument, elevating cultural diversity to the
rank of ‘common heritage of humanity - as necessary for the human race as
bio-diversity in the natural realm’ – and makes its protection an ethical
imperative, inseparable from respect for human dignity.
Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, along with the main lines of an
Action Plan, is a determining instrument to humanise globalisation. UNESCO is
honoured to be at the forefront of a movement that involves all of humanity.
Declaration now counts among the basic texts of new ethics UNESCO is advocating
at the beginning of the 21st century. I hope that it will one day acquire as
much force as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
is the full text of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity:
to the full implementation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms
proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other universally
recognized legal instruments, such as the two International Covenants of 1966
relating respectively to civil and political rights and to economic, social and
that the Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO affirms “that the wide
diffusion of culture, and the education of humanity for justice and liberty and
peace are indispensable to the dignity of man and constitute a sacred duty which
all the nations must fulfil in a spirit of mutual assistance and concern”,
recalling Article I of the
Constitution, which assigns to UNESCO among other purposes that of recommending
“such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of
ideas by word and image”,
to the provisions relating to cultural diversity and the exercise of cultural
rights in the international instruments enacted by UNESCO, 1
that culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material,
intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it
encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living
together, value systems, traditions and beliefs,2
that culture is at the heart of contemporary debates about identity, social
cohesion, and the development of a knowledge-based economy,
that respect for the diversity of cultures, tolerance, dialogue and cooperation,
in a climate of mutual trust and understanding are among the best guarantees of
international peace and security,
to greater solidarity on the basis of recognition of cultural diversity, of
awareness of the unity of humankind, and of the development of intercultural
that the process of globalization, facilitated by the rapid development of new
information and communication technologies, though representing a challenge for
cultural diversity, creates the conditions for renewed dialogue among cultures
of the specific mandate which has been entrusted to UNESCO, within the United
Nations system, to ensure the preservation and promotion of the fruitful
diversity of cultures,
the following principles and adopts the present Declaration:
DIVERSITY AND PLURALISM
1 – Cultural diversity: the common heritage of humanity
takes diverse forms across time and space. This diversity is embodied in the
uniqueness and plurality of the identities of the groups and societies making up
humankind. As a source of exchange, innovation and creativity, cultural
diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature. In this
sense, it is the common heritage of humanity and should be recognized and
affirmed for the benefit of present and future generations.
2 – From cultural diversity to cultural pluralism
our increasingly diverse societies, it is essential to ensure harmonious
interaction among people and groups with plural, varied and dynamic cultural
identities as well as their willingness to live together. Policies for the
inclusion and participation of all citizens are guarantees of social cohesion,
the vitality of civil society and peace. Thus defined, cultural pluralism gives
policy expression to the reality of cultural diversity. Indissociable from a
democratic framework, cultural pluralism is conducive to cultural exchange and
to the flourishing of creative capacities that sustain public life.
3 – Cultural diversity as a factor in development
diversity widens the range of options open to everyone; it is one of the roots
of development, understood not simply in terms of economic growth, but also as a
means to achieve a more satisfactory intellectual, emotional, moral and
DIVERSITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS
4 – Human rights as guarantees of cultural diversity
defence of cultural diversity is an ethical imperative, inseparable from respect
for human dignity. It implies a commitment to human rights and fundamental
freedoms, in particular the rights of persons belonging to minorities and those
of indigenous peoples. No one may invoke cultural diversity to infringe upon
human rights guaranteed by international law, nor to limit their scope.
5 – Cultural rights as an enabling environment for cultural diversity
rights are an integral part of human rights, which are universal, indivisible
and interdependent. The flourishing of creative diversity requires the full
implementation of cultural rights as defined in Article 27 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and in Articles 13 and 15 of the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and cultural Rights. All persons should therefore
be able to express themselves and to create and disseminate their work in the
language of their choice, and particularly in their mother tongue; all persons
should be entitled to quality education and training that fully respect their
cultural identity; and all persons should be able to participate in the cultural
life of their choice and conduct their own cultural practices, subject to
respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
6 – Towards access for all to cultural diversity
ensuring the free flow of ideas by word and image care should be exercised that
all cultures can express themselves and make themselves known. Freedom of
expression, media pluralism, multilingualism, equal access to art and to
scientific and technological knowledge, including in digital form, and the
possibility for all cultures to have access to the means of expression and
dissemination are the guarantees of cultural diversity.
DIVERSITY AND CREATIVITY
7 – Cultural heritage as the wellspring of creativity
draws on the roots of cultural tradition, but flourishes in contact with other
cultures. For this reason, heritage in all its forms must be preserved, enhanced
and handed on to future generations as a record of human experience and
aspirations, so as to foster creativity in all its diversity and to inspire
genuine dialogue among cultures.
8 – Cultural goods and services: commodities of a unique kind
the face of present-day economic and technological change, opening up vast
prospects for creation and innovation, particular attention must be paid to the
diversity of the supply of creative work, to due recognition of the rights of
authors and artists and to the specificity of cultural goods and services which,
as vectors of identity, values and meaning, must not be treated as mere
commodities or consumer goods.
9 – Cultural policies as catalysts of creativity
ensuring the free circulation of ideas and works, cultural policies must create
conditions conducive to the production and dissemination of diversified cultural
goods and services through cultural industries that have the means to assert
themselves at the local and global level. It is for each State, with due regard
to its international obligations, to define its cultural policy and to implement
it through the means it considers fit, whether by operational support or
DIVERSITY AND INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY
10 – Strengthening capacities for creation and dissemination worldwide
the face of current imbalances in flows and exchanges of cultural goods and
services at the global level, it is necessary to reinforce international
cooperation and solidarity aimed at enabling all countries, especially
developing countries and countries in transition, to establish cultural
industries that are viable and competitive at national and international level.
11 – Building partnerships between the public sector, the private sector
and civil society
forces alone cannot guarantee the preservation and promotion of cultural
diversity, which is the key to sustainable human development. From this
perspective, the pre-eminence of public policy, in partnership with the private
sector and civil society, must be reaffirmed.
12 – The role of UNESCO
by virtue of its mandate and functions, has the responsibility to:
Promote the incorporation of the principles set out in the present
Declaration into the development strategies drawn up within the various
Serve as a reference point and a forum where States, international
governmental and non-governmental organizations, civil society and the private
sector may join together in elaborating concepts, objectives and policies in
favour of cultural diversity;
Pursue its activities in standard-setting, awareness-raising and
capacity-building in the areas related to the present Declaration within its
fields of competence;
Facilitate the implementation of the Action Plan, the main lines of which
are appended to the present Declaration.
LINES OF AN ACTION PLAN FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE UNESCO UNIVERSAL
DECLARATION ON CULTURAL DIVERSITY
Member States commit themselves to taking appropriate steps to disseminate
widely the “UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity”, in
particular by cooperating with a view to achieving the following objectives:
the international debate on questions relating to cultural diversity,
particularly in respect of its links with development and its impact on
policy-making, at both national and international level; taking forward notably
consideration of the opportunity of an international legal instrument on
in the definition of principles, standards and practices, on both the national
and the international levels, as well as of awareness-raising modalities and
patterns of cooperation, that are most conducive to the safeguarding and
promotion of cultural diversity.
Fostering the exchange of knowledge and best practices in regard to
cultural pluralism with a view to facilitating, in diversified societies, the
inclusion and participation of persons and groups from varied cultural
4. Making further
headway in understanding and clarifying the content of cultural rights as an
integral part of human rights.
Safeguarding the linguistic heritage of humanity and giving support to
expression, creation and dissemination in the greatest possible number of
linguistic diversity – while respecting the mother tongue – at all levels of
education, wherever possible, and fostering the learning of several languages
from the youngest age.
through education an awareness of the positive value of cultural diversity and
improving to this end both curriculum design and teacher education.
where appropriate, traditional pedagogies into the education process with a view
to preserving and making full use of culturally appropriate methods of
communication and transmission of knowledge.
“digital literacy” and ensuring greater mastery of the new information and
communication technologies, which should be seen both as educational discipline
and as pedagogical tools capable of enhancing the effectiveness of educational
linguistic diversity in cyberspace and encouraging universal access through the
global network to all information in the public domain.
the digital divide, in close cooperation in relevant United Nations system
organizations, by fostering access by the developing countries to the new
technologies, by helping them to master information technologies and by
facilitating the digital dissemination of endogenous cultural products and
access by those countries to the educational, cultural and scientific digital
resources available worldwide.
the production, safeguarding and dissemination of diversified contents in the
media and global information networks and, to that end, promoting the role of
public radio and television services in the development of audiovisual
productions of good quality, in particular by fostering the establishment of
cooperative mechanisms to facilitate their distribution.
policies and strategies for the preservation and enhancement of the cultural and
natural heritage, notably the oral and intangible cultural heritage, and
combating illicit traffic in cultural goods and services.
and protecting traditional knowledge, in particular that of indigenous peoples;
recognizing the contribution of traditional knowledge, particularly with regard
to environmental protection and the management of natural resources, and
fostering synergies between modern science and local knowledge.
the mobility of creators, artists, researchers, scientists and intellectuals and
the development of international research programmes and partnerships, while
striving to preserve and enhance the creative capacity of developing countries
and countries in transition.
Ensuring protection of copyright and related rights in the interest of
the development of contemporary creativity and fair remuneration for creative
work, while at the same time upholding a public right of access to culture, in
accordance with Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
in the emergence or consolidation of cultural industries in the developing
countries and countries in transition and, to this end, cooperating in the
development of the necessary infrastructures and skills, fostering the emergence
of viable local markets, and facilitating access for the cultural products of
those countries to the global market and international distribution networks.
cultural policies, including operational support arrangements and/or appropriate
regulatory frameworks, designed to promote the principles enshrined in this
Declaration, in accordance with the international obligations incumbent upon
civil society closely in framing of public policies aimed at safeguarding and
promoting cultural diversity.
and encouraging the contribution that the private sector can make to enhancing
cultural diversity and facilitating to that end the establishment of forums for
dialogue between the public sector and the private sector.
The Member States recommend that the Director-General
take the objectives set forth in this Action Plan into account in the
implementation of UNESCO’s programmes and communicate the latter to
institutions of the United Nations system and to other intergovernmental and
non-governmental organizations concerned with a view to enhancing the synergy of
actions in favour of cultural diversity.
which, in particular, the Florence Agreement of 1950 and its Nairobi Protocol of
1976, the Universal Copyright Convention of 1952, the Declaration of Principles
on International Cultural Cooperation of 1966, the Convention on the Means of
Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership
of Cultural Property (1970), the Convention for the Protection of World Cultural
and Natural Heritage of 1972, the UNESCO Declaration on Race and Racial
Prejudice of 1978, the Recommendation concerning the Status of the Artist of
1980, and the Recommendation on Safeguarding Traditional and Popular Culture of
2. This definition
is in line with the conclusions of the World Conference on Cultural Policies (MONDIACULT,
Mexico City, 1982), of the World Commission on Culture and Development (Our
Creative Diversity, 1995), and of the Intergovernmental Conference on
Cultural Policies for Development (Stockholm, 1998).