UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of cultural expressions

On November 10, 2005, Québec became the world’s first government to approve the text of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Since then, it has been an active participant in the Convention’s concrete implementation, especially in the digital age.

Under the terms of the Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Québec on UNESCO, a Québec delegation travels regularly to UNESCO headquarters in Paris to take part in the work of the Convention’s governing bodies, ensure follow-up on various matters, and participate directly in developing Canadian positions in such a way that they take Québec’s interests into account.

The Convention was adopted by the UNESCO General Conference on October 20, 2005. It was negotiated primarily to meet the needs of States and governments that, while liberalizing their markets, wished to preserve their right to maintain, develop and implement policies supporting culture and the diversity of cultural expressions.

To date, 145 countries, in addition to the European Union, have ratified the Convention.

The governments of Québec and Canada played a major role in the process leading to the Convention’s adoption. Canada ratified the Convention on November 28, 2005, and was the first State to do so.

The Convention’s main objectives

  • Reaffirm the right of States and governments to formulate and implement cultural policies;
  • Recognize the specific nature of cultural activities, goods and services as vehicles of identity, values and meaning, which must therefore not be treated as having solely commercial value;
  • Foster international cooperation in order to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions, particularly in developing countries.

Who are the beneficiaries?

The Convention benefits artists, professionals and cultural practitioners, public and private cultural enterprises and organizations, and citizens the world over by ensuring that they have the possibility to create, produce, disseminate, and have access to a broad range of cultural goods, services and activities, including their own.

The Convention also contains provisions on international cooperation that provide support to developing countries. These provisions, including the establishment of the International Fund for Cultural Diversity, are aimed in particular at developing strong cultural sectors that can contribute to a true diversity of cultural expressions on the national and international scene.

The underlying issue of the diversity of cultural expressions

The fundamental issue underlying the diversity of cultural expressions is the preservation of the capacity of States and governments to devise and implement their cultural policies. Artists and other professionals in the cultural sector are deeply affected by this matter since they rely on support stemming from such policies.

More generally, there is widespread concern in the international community that applying purely market rules to cultural sectors leads to cultural homogenization and the disappearance of some cultures in favour of those that are the most “profitable”.

This is the context that brought about the Convention.

Québec government support

The Québec government provides financial support to the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, a Canadian organization that includes some thirty associations representing artists and other professionals in the cultural sector across the country.

The Coalition has done outstanding work to maximize the number of ratifications of the Convention. It strives to defend the Convention’s basic principles as well as to promote the International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) and cooperation with developing countries.

The IFCD is funded by voluntary contributions from the States Parties to the Convention. Its purpose is to promote sustainable development and poverty reduction in developing countries by financing projects that will foster the emergence of a dynamic cultural sector in these countries.

Last update: 2019-04-18 10:12:02 AM