UNESCO conference on cultural diversity

June 2007 -

"If we loose diversity we loose poetry" argued the Danish Pia Raug, chairwoman of the World Composers Council and general secretary of the European Council of Artists, on a UNESCO-Conference held from April 26 until 28 2007 in Essen, Germany with 450 participants from 60 countries.


In a quiet rapid process the 2005 UNESCO-Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions entered into force on 18 March 2007 as a binding international legal instrument. "In the Convention it concerns the development of the best basic conditions for creativity and human liberty. The right to cultural self-determination was embodied to international law by the UNESCO Convention." mentioned Dr. Roland Bernecker, general secretary of the German UNESCO-Commission.

The number of 30 signatory states had been reached already by December 2006. The today 57 signatories include also a large number of developing countries. Certainly the USA still avoid to sign because they see the Convention in contradiction to their concept of a free global market. It is said that the USA also give pressure to keep others from signing the Convention.

The discussions stressed several times the integration and active role of the civil society in the process of preserving and supporting as an elementary part beside the very important commitment of the contracting member states. To that the definition of culture as a market good that needs to be handled in a special and sensitive way found brought approval. In both it was held down that the European Union deals as an example in successfully combining the protection and supporting of cultural diversity with parallel economical prosperity.

Furthermore it was emphasized that the protection and promotion of cultural diversity in developing countries need the support by the international community. For this the signatories took over a solidarity obligation. The today 57 signatory states already represent about half of the world population whereby the Asia-Pacific, Arabic and African regions are still under represented. The conferences' participants asked for an active promotion to sign and realize the Conventions' targets. At the same time the civil society is been prompted to stand up for this process especially in countries where the governments hesitate to ratify. A strong start is important so the will is to reach about 100 signatories by 2008 and about 150 by 2010. For 2008 the second World Report on Cultural Diversity will be awaited supplanting Our Creative Diversity published by Javier Pérez de Cuéllar and the World Commission for Culture and Development in 1995.