The Context

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What is the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions?

Today, cultural ideas and expressions – whether in the form of books, CDs, cassettes, live performances, radio and television programmes, films, videos, DVDs or Internet – are largely transmitted through increasingly technical and industrial forms of production and distribution. Given this radical change in the modes of creation and enjoyment of culture, the question arises as to whether everyone partakes of the same advantages.

The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted in 2005 by the UNESCO General Conference, is a binding international legal instrument. Its goal is to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions, particularly as embodied and conveyed in cultural activities, goods and services, which are the vehicles of contemporary culture. It sets out to create a legal framework favourable to all with regard to the production, distribution/dissemination, access to and enjoyment of a wide range of cultural expressions of diverse origin.

The Convention highlights the decisive role of cultural policies and defines the rights and obligations of Parties with regard to the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, both nationally and internationally. States have agreed on the urgent need for this instrument, given that the accelerating processes of globalization tend to heighten the disparities between those countries lacking and those possessing the capacity to create, produce and disseminate their cultural expressions.

Category: THE CONTEXT
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Why does the Convention not deal with cultural diversity as a whole?

It is true that the Convention deals with only one aspect of cultural diversity as defined by the 2001 Declaration in the following articles: 8 (cultural goods and services as distinct commodities), 10 (reinforcing capacities for creation and dissemination at the global level); and 11 (creating partnerships between the public and private sectors and civil society). Other aspects of cultural diversity are already covered by six international conventions, which have been drawn up progressively at UNESCO:

Today the three pillars of the preservation and promotion of creative diversity are: the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage; the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage; and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The latter differs from the other two heritage-related conventions in that it focuses specifically on the diversity of cultural expressions disseminated and made accessible largely through cultural activities, goods and services.

Category: THE CONTEXT
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What are the conceptual foundations of the Convention?

The Convention is consistent with UNESCO’s thinking and activity. In this regard, UNESCO’s Constitution assigns it the dual mandate of “preserving the […] fruitful diversity of the cultures […] of the States Members” and of “advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend[ing] such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image”.

From 1946 to the present day, the issue of cultural diversity has been explicitly or implicitly addressed by the Organization according to the changing historical or political contexts. Since the 1990s, in response to the acceleration of the globalization processes, cultural diversity came to the fore particularly during the Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development (Stockholm, 1998), whose action plan provided inspiration for numerous subsequent works, symposia, and round tables of Culture Ministers as well as for the publication of a periodical report on culture. In this regard, two World Culture Reports were published: Culture, Creativity and Markets (1998) and Cultural Diversity, Conflict and Pluralism (2000). Drawing on lessons learned from the work accomplished, the UNESCO General Conference unanimously adopted the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity in 2001. By raising cultural diversity to the status of “common heritage of humanity”, the Declaration recognizes the need, on the one hand, to ensure a harmonious co-existence between individuals and groups from diverse cultural horizons, and, on the other hand, to defend a creative capacity through the many different tangible and intangible forms of cultures.

Category: THE CONTEXT
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What are the challenges facing the Convention?

The Convention aims to give culture its rightful place on the international political agenda, particularly by recognizing its symbolic value and that it is indissociable from human well-being. More precisely, it takes up a number of challenges faced by cultural expressions in our era:

  • to recognize the dual economic and cultural nature of cultural activities, goods and services, which convey and transmit cultural expressions and, in so doing, constitute vehicles of identity, values and meaning, irrespective of their commercial value.
     
  • to avoid jeopardizing the cultural expressions of various social groups, including those of persons belonging to minorities and indigenous peoples.
     
  • to manage the risks of unbalanced flows of cultural expressions between developed countries
    and developing countries.
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What is meant by “cultural expressions”?

The term “Cultural expressions” refers to the various ways in which the creativity of individuals and social groups takes shape and manifests itself. These manifestations include expressions transmitted by words (literature, tales…), sound (music…), images (photos, films…) – in any format (printed, audiovisual, digital etc.) – or by activities (dance, theatre…) or objects (sculptures, paintings…).

Today, the production and dissemination of cultural expressions increasingly conform to an industrial and economic logic. Cultural expressions may thus be said to be transmitted largely through those “cultural activities, goods and services”, which that have become the main vehicles of culture. At the same time, they have taken on great economic importance and have become major stakes in international trade. The dual economic and cultural nature of cultural activities, goods and services has been progressively recognized, together with the fact that, as the bearers of identity, values and meaning, they cannot be treated as mere commodities.

By focusing on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, the 2005 Convention takes account of the fact that, in an increasingly interconnected world, each individual can have freer and more immediate access to a rich diversity of cultural expressions of domestic or foreign origin, and that this possibility has yet to be fully realized in a world in need of greater solidarity.

Category: THE CONTEXT
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What were the stages that led to the adoption of the Convention?

The preparatory work on the preliminary draft of the Convention was carried out over a period of two years. Negotiations were initiated with the adoption of Resolution 32C/34 (pdf), at the 32nd session of the General Conference (October 2003). In accordance with this resolution and with the procedures for the elaboration and adoption of international instruments at UNESCO, the Director-General first entrusted fifteen independent experts with the task of undertaking preliminary reflection and submitting to him recommendations on the preparation of a preliminary draft of a Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions. In the course of three meetings, the independent experts succeeded in drawing up a detailed text.

Following these meetings, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, submitted to the Member States a preliminary report accompanied by a preliminary draft convention in mid-July 2004 with a view to gathering their comments and observations by mid-November 2004. At the same time, he undertook consultations with other international governmental organizations: the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which forwarded their comments on the preliminary draft convention in November 2004.

The three sessions of the intergovernmental meeting of experts took place between September 2004 and June 2005 so as to enable the representatives of UNESCO’s Member States to discuss and improve the text drawn up by the group of independent experts. As for the meetings of the Drafting Committee set up at the first intergovernmental session, they made it possible to finalize the text of the preliminary draft of the Convention. These different stages culminated in the adoption of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, on 20 October 2005, by the General Conference at its 33rd session (148 States voted in favour, 2 voted against and 4 abstained).

Category: THE CONTEXT

The Text

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What rights does the Convention confer on the Parties?

The Convention confers on Parties the sovereign right to formulate and implement their cultural policies and to adopt measures to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations, the principles of international law and universally recognized human rights instruments (Article 5). The Convention provides a tentative list of measures that the Parties may adopt in this regard (Article 6):

regulatory measures aimed at protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions;
 
measures that provide opportunities for domestic cultural activities, goods and services to find their place among the whole range of available activities, goods and services;
 
measures aimed at providing independent domestic cultural industries and activities in the informal sector with effective access to the means of production, dissemination and distribution of cultural activities, goods and services;
 
measures aimed at providing public financial assistance;
 
measures aimed at encouraging all cultural stakeholders (public and private institutions, artists and cultural professionals, non-profit organizations) to promote the free exchange and circulation of ideas and cultural expressions;
 
measures aimed at supporting public service institutions;
 
measures aimed at encouraging and supporting artists and all creators;
 
measures to promote media diversity, particularly public broadcasting services.
However, the exercise of this right must be in conformity with the provisions of the Convention, in particular its “Objectives” and “Guiding Principles” (see also Questions: What are the objectives of the Convention? and What are the guiding principles for implementation of the Convention by the States Parties?).

The Convention also allows Parties to determine the existence of special situations where cultural expressions on their territory are at risk of extinction, under serious threat, or otherwise in need of urgent safeguarding, and, thus, take all appropriate measures to protect and preserve cultural expressions in such situations.

Category: THE TEXT
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What is the scope of application of the Convention ?

The Convention defines what a Party to the Convention is authorized or undertakes to do to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions. Consequently, the Convention applies to “the policies and measures adopted by the Parties related to the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions” (Article 3). For the purposes of this Convention, “cultural policies and measures” are defined as “those policies and measures relating to culture, whether at the local, national, regional or international level, that are either focused on culture as such or are designed to have a direct effect on cultural expressions of individuals, groups or societies, including on the creation, production, dissemination, distribution of and access to cultural activities, goods and services” (Article 4.6). These cultural policies and measures, whose main lines are set out in Section IV of the Convention entitled “Rights and Obligations of Parties”, may be aimed at strengthening local cultural industries, supporting artists and cultural professionals or boosting arts education among other activities.

Category: THE TEXT
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What are the objectives of the Convention?

In pursuit of its main objective – the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions – the Convention sets out to create a legal framework conducive to the manifestation and renewal of the diversity of cultural expressions while benefiting societies as a whole (Article 1). More specifically, it seeks to ensure conditions favouring the creation, production, distribution/dissemination of a greater diversity of cultural expressions of varied origins together with access to and enjoyment of those cultural expressions by all. To this end, the Convention aims to:

reaffirm the sovereign right of States to draw up cultural policies;
 
recognize the specific nature of cultural goods and services as vehicles of identity, values and meaning; and
 
strengthen international cooperation and solidarity with a view to favouring the cultural expressions of all countries, in particular those whose cultural goods and services suffer from lack of access to the means of creation, production and dissemination at the national and international level.
The Convention thereby seeks to help promote intercultural dialogue based on the equal dignity of all cultures and encourage sustainable development, which is understood not simply in terms of economic growth but also as a means of achieving a satisfying intellectual, moral and spiritual life.

Category: THE TEXT
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What are the obligations of the Parties to the Convention?

As a counterpart to the rights granted to them, Parties to the Convention undertake to protect and promote, domestically and internationally, the diversity of cultural expressions in conformity with the provisions of the Convention (Article 5).

One of the first commitments is to promote the diversity of cultural expressions (Article 7). The Parties are required to take steps to ensure an environment enabling individuals and social groups to create, produce, disseminate, distribute and have access to their own cultural expressions as well as to the full range of cultural expressions worldwide. The Parties also undertake to share information and ensure transparency (Article 9). This commitment with regard to transparency entails submitting a report to UNESCO every four years on measures taken to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions within their territory and at the international level. Education and public awareness are also obligations devolving upon the Parties (Article 10). To this end, Parties are required to encourage and promote understanding of the importance of the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions and to cooperate with each other and with international and regional organizations. Finally, the Parties assume obligations at the international level concerning cooperation between countries and the role to be played by civil society.

Category: THE TEXT
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What is the role of international cooperation under the Convention?

The Convention attaches considerable importance to international cooperation, which Parties are required to promote (Articles 12 and 14). International solidarity is an effective response to the inequalities between States with regard to the means available to cultural expressions. The above-mentioned articles set forth practical lines of action based on partnership. They aim to increase capacities for the creation, production, dissemination and distribution of cultural expressions so that Parties, particularly those whose cultural expressions are in danger and/or who lack the means to ensure their protection and promotion, can rely on international solidarity.

This solidarity, as expressed for example through preferential treatment for developing countries (Article 16) and a readiness to provide mutual assistance in situations where cultural expressions are seriously threatened (Article 17), is aimed at reducing in a concrete manner the risks of disparity that globalization processes are liable to pose for the diversity of cultural expressions.

Category: THE TEXT
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What are the guiding principles for implementation of the Convention by the States Parties?

The rights granted to Parties, and their corresponding commitments, are not to be implemented in any manner a Party pleases. In keeping with the provisions of the Convention, rights must be exercised and obligations assumed, in particular in the light of its purposes and goals. In this connection, the Convention lays down in Article 2 a number of principles that should guide Parties in their interpretation and implementation of the Convention. These principles include respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, information and communication. The principle of openness and balance is fundamental since it specifies that States, through the policies and measures they adopt, should constantly seek to promote, in an appropriate manner, openness to other cultures of the world. This principle of openness is in itself a guarantee of cultural diversity. Respect for the principle of the equality of all cultures is essential in the development of policies and measures, which should take special account of the cultural expressions of persons belonging to minorities and indigenous peoples. Respect for the principle of equitable access, guaranteeing every individual effective enjoyment of a wide range of cultural expressions, is also crucial to ensuring that cultural diversity is shared and perpetuated. Lastly, mention should be made of the principle of the complementarity of the economic and cultural aspects of development, as well as that of sustainable development, on which the Convention places special emphasis.

Category: THE TEXT

Operation of the Convention

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What is the procedure for ratifying the Convention?

“Ratification” designates the international act whereby a State or regional economic integration organization affirms its consent to be bound by a treaty. The Convention is thus submitted to the ratification, acceptance, approval or accession of the Member States of UNESCO whose instruments have been deposited with the Organization’s Director-General (Article 26). It is also open to accession by non-Member States of UNESCO and regional economic integration organizations (Article 27).

Thus a Member State or regional economic integration organization wishing to become a party to the Convention must ratify it. The internal procedure leading to the deposit of the instrument of ratification with the Director-General of UNESCO varies considerably in terms of its duration and mode of implementation, as it is specific to each Member State or regional economic integration organization.

A model of the instrument of ratification (or acceptance, accession or approval, as appropriate) (PDF):

English - French - Spanish - Russian - Arabic

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INSTRUMENT OF RATIFICATION

Whereas the ... (title of the Convention) ... is open to ratification by ... (name of the country) ..., under the terms of its Article ... (number of applicable Article) ...,

Now therefore the Government of ... (name of the country) ... having considered the aforesaid Convention hereby ratify the said Convention and undertake faithfully to carry out the stipulations therein contained.

IN WITNESS THEREOF, I have signed and sealed this instrument.

Done at ... (place) ..., this day of ... (date) ...

(Signature)

Head of State or Prime Minister or Minister of Foreign Affairs

(Seal)

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Source: UNESCO Legal Instruments

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What is the Conference of Parties? What are its functions?

The Conference of Parties is the assembly of all the Parties to the Convention and is the Convention’s plenary and supreme body (Article 22). It will meet in ordinary session every two years and, if necessary, in extraordinary session. Its functions are the following: to elect the Members of the Intergovernmental Committee; to approve the operational guidelines prepared by the Committee for the implementation and application of the Convention; and to examine the reports of the Parties on the measures they have taken with respect to the Convention (Articles 18.4 and 22.4.b). The Conference of Parties can also take whatever other measures it may consider necessary to further the objectives of the Convention. Moreover, the Conference of Parties approves the Committee’s rules of procedure and the basic guidelines for using the resources of the International Fund for Cultural Diversity.

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What are the follow-up mechanisms?

The Convention establishes two bodies responsible for implementing and monitoring the Convention: the Conference of Parties and the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which is assisted by the UNESCO Secretariat. The first meeting of the Conference of Parties and that of the Intergovernmental Committee will have a key role to play in the effective implementation of the Convention.

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When will the Convention take effect?

The Convention will enter into force three months after the date of deposit of the 30th instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with respect to those States or regional economic integration organizations that have deposited their respective instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession by that date. It shall enter into force with respect to other Parties three months after the deposit of their instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession (Article 29).

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What is the role of civil society in the implementation of the Convention?

Civil society is not only a beneficiary of the Convention but also a partner in its implementation. Non-governmental organizations representing cultural professionals, for example, have actively participated in the process of drawing up the Convention, and it is important that civil society should henceforth play a part in its implementation. In this respect, the Convention explicitly recognizes the “fundamental role of civil society in the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions” and calls on Parties to strengthen partnerships with civil society, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector in pursuit of the objectives of the Convention (Articles 11, 12.c, 12.d).

The Intergovernmental Committee may also invite at any time public or private organizations or individuals to participate in its meetings for consultation on specific issues (Article 23.7).

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What are the functions of the UNESCO Secretariat?

The UNESCO Secretariat assists the Conference of Parties and the Intergovernmental Committee in organizing their meetings and prepares the relevant documentation (Article 24). The Secretariat also assists in and reports on the implementation of their decisions.

UNESCO will also facilitate, through existing Secretariat mechanisms such as the Institute for Statistics, the collection, analysis and dissemination of all relevant information, statistics and best practices relating to the diversity of cultural expressions. UNESCO will furthermore establish and update a databank on different sectors and governmental, private and non-profit organizations involved in the area of cultural expressions (Article 19).

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What is the Intergovernmental Committee? What are its functions?

The Intergovernmental Committee is the body responsible for promoting the objectives of the Convention and encouraging and monitoring the implementation thereof (Article 23). The members of the Committee are elected by the Conference of Parties for a term of four years.

The main functions of the Intergovernmental Committee include: preparing operational guidelines for the implementation and application of the Convention; transmitting to the Conference of Parties reports from Parties to the Convention together with its comments and a summary of their contents; and deciding on the use of the International Fund for Cultural Diversity. In addition, the Committee serves as an advisory body since it is required to make recommendations on situations brought to its attention by the Parties, particularly in cases where cultural expressions are “at risk of extinction, under serious threat or otherwise in need of urgent safeguarding” (Articles 8 and 23.6.d). The Intergovernmental Committee also establishes procedures and other mechanisms for consultation aimed at promoting the objectives and principles of the Convention in other international forums.

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What is the International Fund for Cultural Diversity?

The International Fund for Cultural Diversity established under the Constitution (Article 18) is a funds-in-trust placed at the disposal of Parties, particularly developing countries, to help them implement and apply the Convention. Use of the Fund’s resources is decided by the Intergovernmental Committee in accordance with the guidelines provided by the Conference of Parties.

The resources of the Fund will consist, in particular, of voluntary contributions made by the Parties and gifts or bequests by other States, other regional and international organizations, public or private bodies and individuals. Resources may also take the form of funds raised through collections and receipts from events organized for the benefit of the Fund.

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How does the Convention deal with the links to other international instruments?

Article 20 of the Convention specifies that nothing in the Convention shall be interpreted as modifying the rights and obligations of the Parties under any other treaties to which they are parties.

This provision applies to all treaties, whether they are already in force or in preparation. Thus, Article 20 faithfully reflects one of the main objectives of the Convention, namely to recognize the dual economic and cultural nature of cultural activities, goods and services. All fields of international legislation likely to interact with the implementation of the Convention are envisaged in a spirit of complementarity and mutual supportiveness; while all international treaties have different objectives, these objectives can be pursued in a compatible and complementary manner.

Finally, in the interests of concerted action and coordination between international legal instruments, the Parties also undertake to promote the objectives and principles of the Convention in other international forums and to consult each other to that end (Article 21). This is another way of acknowledging the interactions liable to arise between the Convention and other international treaties, and Parties are responsible for building such “bridges” between the different international negotiation forums.

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Does the Convention define its relationship with other international legal instruments?

The Convention is an international legal instrument dealing with the diversity of cultural expressions. Although its scope of application is confined “to the policies and measures adopted by the Parties related to the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions” (Article 3, see Question What is the scope of aplication of the Convention?), the implementation of the provisions of the Convention may reveal certain points of interaction between the rights and obligations of Parties contained in this new treaty and the rights and obligations deriving from other international instruments to which they are party.

In this respect, Article 20 of the Convention defines the relationship with other international treaties and specifies the linkage between these treaties in the case of an overlap of rights and obligations. According to this article, the Parties must perform in good faith their obligations under the Convention as well as those under all other treaties they have signed, without subordinating the said Convention to the other treaties. To this end, the Convention calls on the Parties to foster mutual supportiveness between the Convention and the other treaties. It also calls on them to take into account the relevant provisions of the Convention when interpreting or applying the other treaties to which they are parties or when entering into other international obligations.

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How does the dispute settlement mechanism work?

Provision is made for a dispute settlement mechanism to address any divergences of view between Parties on the interpretation or application of certain rules or principles relating to the Convention (Article 25). This mechanism obliges the Parties to negotiate in the first instance before having recourse to mediation and good offices.

If the Parties are unable to agree on a solution to the dispute by one or other of these means, they can have recourse to conciliation. This procedure can be set in motion at the request of a single party to the dispute. However, the Parties may choose not to recognize this procedure simply by making a declaration to that effect at the time of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. In this sense, the Convention places its own mechanism at the disposal of Parties wishing to make use of it to facilitate the effective settlement of conflicts with other Parties that have also accepted it.

Finally, the dispute settlement mechanism only commits the Parties to the Convention, which are necessarily States or regional economic integration organizations. Thus, while the Convention recognizes in many respects the important role of civil society and the private sector in the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, the dispute settlement mechanism is not made available to actors not party to the Convention (such as enterprises), which are not legally bound by the Convention.

Other Questions

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Can the Convention have an impact on the trade regimes of States Parties ?

The Convention concerns the diversity of cultural expressions and is aimed at protecting and promoting this diversity, in particular through cultural policies and measures and through the strengthening of international cooperation. However, some consider that such policies and measures – aimed, for example, at encouraging domestic artists and local productions – may have an impact on the trade regime of States Parties.

Once the Convention has entered into force for States and regional economic integration organizations, it will neither change nor modify the rights and obligations deriving from other legal instruments to which they are parties, including international trade agreements, whether at the bilateral, regional or multilateral level.

Completing the series of UNESCO’s standard-setting instruments in the field of culture, the Convention does not call into question the independence or the autonomy of international trade law. In this connection, it is important to note that the term “protection”, employed in the context of this Convention refers to the: “the adoption of measures aimed at the preservation, safeguarding and enhancement of the diversity of cultural expressions” (Article 4.7). This is the sense in which it is used in various UNESCO instruments in the cultural field, such as the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage, the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, and the 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. In this Convention, the term “protection”, coupled with the term “promotion” reflects the need to safeguard the vitality – if not the survival – of cultural expressions placed at risk by the accelerating processes of globalization.

Category: OTHER QUESTIONS
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Does the Convention restrict the free flow of ideas and information? Can it be used to justify censorship?

The Preamble to the Convention reaffirms that “freedom of thought, expression and information, as well as diversity of the media, enable cultural expressions to flourish within societies” (paragraph 12). In addition, the first guiding principle refers to the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 2.1). Consequently, the Convention can only be diverted from its purposes insofar as States violate human rights as recognized in international legal instruments.

While the Convention reaffirms the sovereign right of States to adopt policies and measures to foster the diversity of cultural expressions, it specifies that the latter should be respectful of its provisions and therefore of the objectives, principles, rights and obligations that it sets forth. Far from favouring censorship, the Convention provides additional safeguards to existing provisions for the protection of fundamental rights.

The risk of government censorship is all the less likely since the principle of the sovereignty of Parties to the Convention is coupled with the the “principle of openness and balance” (Article 2.8) stipulating that States, by adopting these policies and measures, “should seek to promote, in an appropriate manner, openness to other cultures of the world ...”. This openness moreover takes the form of rights and obligations since under Article 7 “Parties shall endeavour to create in their territory an environment which encourages individuals and social groups (...) to have access to diverse local expressions from within their territory as well as from  other countries of the world”. Finally, Parties must see to the sharing and transparency of information by providing every four years, in their reports to UNESCO, appropriate information on measures taken to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions (Article 9).

Category: OTHER QUESTIONS
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Does the Convention concern itself with linguistic diversity?

Languages are an intrinsic part of the diversity of cultural expressions. The fundamental role of linguistic diversity in the promotion of cultural diversity is accordingly underlined in the Preamble. Moreover, Article 6.2.b, concerning the measures that could be taken by the Parties to the Convention to provide, in an appropriate manner, opportunities for domestic cultural activities, goods and services among all those available within the national territory, also refers to measures relating to the language used in such activities, goods and services. That is to say that the Parties, in the context of the policies and measures they are authorized to implement to foster the diversity of cultural expressions, may also, while respecting fundamental freedoms and the principles of balance and openness inherent in the Convention, foster linguistic diversity in the different stages of creation, production, dissemination and distribution of cultural expressions through cultural activities, goods and services (see Question What rights does the Convention confer on the Parties?).

Category: OTHER QUESTIONS
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Is the Convention concerned with intellectual property?

The Convention does not deal specifically with intellectual property, which at the international level falls mainly within the remit of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), with which UNE SCO has consulted informally in the framework of the preparation of this instrument. However, the Convention does not overlook the importance of intellectual property rights in the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions. In its Preamble, the Convention recognizes the importance of these rights for individuals participating in cultural creativity (paragraph 17) and the need to ensure the protection and promotion of traditional knowledge – particularly the knowledge systems of indigenous peoples – as a source of intangible and material wealth (paragraph 8).

Category: OTHER QUESTIONS
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Is the Convention concerned with persons belonging to minorities and indigenous peoples?

Although it is not specifically devoted to the cultural expressions of minorities and indigenous peoples per se, the text of the Convention recognizes the importance of these expressions for the diversity of cultural expressions. Accordingly, the Convention’s Preamble reminds us of the importance of traditional forms of knowledge – particularly knowledge systems of indigenous peoples – as a source of intangible and material wealth and of their positive contribution to sustainable development. Morevover, the Convention affirms the principle of the equal dignity of and respect for all cultures, including the cultures of persons belonging to minorities and indigenous peoples (Article 2.3). It also calls on the Parties to pay “due attention to the special circumstances and needs of various social groups, including persons belonging to minorities and indigenous peoples” (Article 7.1.a) as regards the exercise of their rights at the national level.

Persons belonging to minorities and indigenous peoples are the depositories of knowledge occupying a special place in the diversity of cultural expressions in terms of the wide range and originality of the world views they transmit. However, their cultural expressions are often weakened. For this reason, they will likely become a priority under this Convention.

Category: OTHER QUESTIONS
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What are the benefits for developing countries?

While the developing countries are rich in terms of creativity and cultural expressions, there is a genuine disparity between the capacities of the developed and developing countries when it comes to producing and disseminating their own cultural expressions, thereby reducing the possibilities of developing countries to contribute actively to diversity at the international level. A number of provisions in the Convention are therefore aimed at developing countries. These provisions call for several measures including: the strengthening of their cultural industries and their institutional and management capacities, the transfer of technology and know-how, and different forms of financial assistance (Article 14). Support for some of these cooperation projects could be provided by the International Fund (Article 18).

Category: OTHER QUESTIONS
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What are the advantages of ratifying the Convention?

The merit of the Convention lies in the place it assigns to creativity in the context of globalization. The overall effect of its provisions is to benefit individuals and societies as a whole by guaranteeing them the enjoyment of a diversity of cultural expressions in a spirit of openness, balance and freedom.

Foremost among the beneficiaries are countries lacking the capacities for the production and dissemination of their cultural expressions, particularly developing countries. The Convention will also have positive effects for artists and culture professionals and practitioners, i.e., all those involved in the process of creating, producing and disseminating cultural expressions, whether individually or collectively. Other beneficiaries will be institutions and cultural enterprises, both public and private, including those belonging to the informal sector as well as non-profit organizations engaged in the same process.

Category: OTHER QUESTIONS