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 cultural rights,
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
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,
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,
Affirming 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,
Aspiring to greater solidarity on the basis of recognition of cultural diversity, of awareness of the unity of humankind, and of the development of intercultural exchanges,
Considering 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 and civilizations,
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.
Article 2 – From cultural diversity to cultural pluralism
In 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.
Article 3 – Cultural diversity as a factor in development
Cultural 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 spiritual existence.
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.
Article 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
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
Creation 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 appropriate regulations.
DIVERSITY AND INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY
Article 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
Article 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:
Deepening 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 cultural diversity.
Advancing 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
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
Encouraging 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.
Promoting through education an awareness of the positive value
of cultural diversity and improving to this end both curriculum design
and teacher education.
Incorporating, 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.
Encouraging “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 services.
Promoting linguistic diversity in cyberspace and encouraging universal
access through the global network to all information in the public domain.
Countering 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.
Encouraging 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.
Formulating 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
Respecting 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.
Fostering 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.
Assisting 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.
Developing 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 each State.
Involving civil society closely in framing of public policies aimed
at safeguarding and promoting cultural diversity.
Recognizing 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.
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