Isolation of US on Cultural Diversity

Mediavigil endorses UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity adopted in October 2005. This UN Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CCD) was approved by 148 countries, while two countries -the United States and Israel- voted against it and four countries Australia, Honduras, Liberia and Nicaragua abstained.

All the 28-amendments to the agreement proposed by the US were rejected by the UNESCO. This came in spite of a letter from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warning governments that the accord would "sow conflict rather than cooperation." The Financial Times reported it as "US isolated over cultural diversity".

Unnoticed by Indian media, this new UN treaty entered into force on March 18, 2007 following its ratification by a sufficient number of countries. It equates cultural rights with human rights.

The role of communication in the protection of cultural diversity has been discussed at the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) held in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005 as well. Unlike the era of 1980s, the concept of information as a global public good are generally left unaddressed at the UNESCO Conventions.

US has vowed to lobby countries to frustrate CCD at other multilateral agreements.

The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions entered into force on 18 March, three months after the thirtieth instrument of ratification was deposited. To date, 56 States have ratified the Convention. In an unprecedented event, the European Union adhered to the convention as a regional organization of economic integration.

Adopted on 20 October 2005 by the General Conference of UNESCO, the Convention aims to reinforce the links between culture, sustainable development and dialogue. It reaffirms respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, equal dignity of cultures, equitable access and openness of cultures to the world. It establishes the sovereign right of States to elaborate cultural policies with a view "to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions" and recognizes the distinctive nature of cultural goods and services as “vehicles of identity, values and meaning”. It thus intends “to create the conditions for cultures to flourish and to freely interact in a mutually beneficial manner.”

In order to encourage international cultural cooperation, it places international solidarity at the heart of its action and calls for the creation of a voluntary International Fund for Cultural Diversity. Furthermore, each Party acknowledges the fundamental role of civil society and pledges to encourage its active participation.

Implemented by an Intergovernmental Committee elected and composed of Parties’ representatives, the Convention will have as its supreme body the Conference of Parties, which will meet for the first time before the summer.

With the Convention’s entry into force, UNESCO now disposes of a comprehensive set of standard-setting instruments, comprising seven conventions* which cover cultural diversity in all of its manifestations, especially the two pillars of culture: heritage - tangible and intangible - and contemporary creativity.

*Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005); Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003); Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001); Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972); Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Cultural Property (1970); Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954); Universal Copyright Convention (1952, 1971).


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