Unesco discusses practical implementation of culture convention

January 2009 -

The delegations that met in Paris from 8 to 12 December 2008 were faced with an important task: agreeing on the Operational Guideline determining the details of the 2005 Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions. That convention was the first international instrument with binding agreements on the protection of cultural diversity.

Four of the convention's themes were up for negotiation: international cooperation, the integration of culture in development policy, project funding, and preferential treatment for developing countries. The texts for the first two subjects remained virtually unchanged. The same cannot be said about the International Fund for Cultural Diversity. The delegations agreed that the fund should focus on developing countries and keep a safe distance from imposing economic or political conditions. Monies should not be invested in one-off projects but in plans that could have structural impact and could ultimately generate their own funding. Those submitting project proposals are requested to finance ten percent of the budget to demonstrate their commitment. The fund now has a total of $943,000.00 from voluntary contributions made by member states.

Then only one issue was left: should developing countries receive preferential treatment in the area of culture? A preferential position not only gives better access to the world's markets, but also affects matters involved in cultural policy such as development aid to stimulate local cultural markets, transferring technological know-how, and training artists and culture professionals. It was too early for defining the details of terms of trade and assistance in cultural relationships, the delegates determined. For the time being, their work was limited to discussing relevant reports by experts. Each country will also discuss the matter on a national level.