CAPE TOWN CONFERENCE
REPORT TO THE INCP
14 OCTOBER 2002
The International Network for Cultural Diversity yesterday concluded three days of meetings at the Centre for the Book. The INCD’s 186 delegates from 37 countries organized around the theme Fostering Cultural Diversity and Development: local, national and global strategies.
Delegates traveled to Cape Town from every corner of the globe – artists, producers, distributors, exhibitors, heritage institutions, cultural activists and scholars, representing NGOs from every continent and region. We came from economically rich countries and economically poor ones, from areas of peace and areas of conflict, from countries with strong cultural industries, to ones whose artists are too rarely seen or heard beyond their own communities. The majority of us were from the South, a region rich, layered and sophisticated in its cultural diversity.
Concerns about cultural homogenization are shared by people everywhere. While globalization may challenge cultures in different ways, the INCD is united and determined to promote cultural diversity, to preserve the world’s living languages, to improve the flow of artistic productions between societies, protect cultural heritage and to foster support for creators, artists and cultural producers everywhere. The work of the INCD is building on an international understanding expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that expression of culture is one of the fundamental human rights.
Support for the development and implementation of a new Convention on Cultural Diversity that will provide a legal foundation for government measures that support diversity has grown from a concept being discussed in only a few communities two years ago to an idea that has spread broadly. It is now being discussed in cultural communities around the world. It is also being considered by UNESCO and within the Council of Europe, La Francophonie, the ILO, WSSD, UNCTAD and other intergovernmental agencies.
But the INCD knows the Convention is only one step, the promotion and encouragement of cultural diversity requires the development of cultural capacity in many countries and in many communities. For individual artists, cultural producers and cultural institutions in the least developed countries, in the developing world and in countries in transition, it is not merely enough to preserve existing cultural policies and programs, we need new ones and urge our governments and intergovernmental agencies to implement them. Our discussion on this theme reflected all of our differences and diverse opinions, but we emerged united in a commitment to advocate on behalf of our communities for policies and programs which will ensure that development will work for culture and cultural exchange.
The INCD will table the second draft of our proposed Convention on Cultural Diversity after it has taken into account the substantive contributions from our conference. The INCD congratulates you for the efforts of your Working Group on Globalization and we were delighted to have had an opportunity to provide our thoughts and ideas during the drafting process. The draft of the Convention prepared for consideration of the Culture Ministers is a significant benchmark. The INCD encourages the earliest public release of your working text because it will represent a significant contribution to the growing global dialogue. And we must increasingly engage trade ministers in this dialogue.
INCD delegates had rich debate about how culture and cultural diversity have different meanings in different parts of the world. The Convention must not engender debate on sensitive issues that have been resolved in other recognized international documents and treaties.
In the spirit of collaboration, we offer the following specific observations about the content of the proposed Convention.
The INCD is committed to working to ensure the Convention cannot be used to justify acts that are contrary to fundamental human rights and basic democratic principles. That is why we include in our Draft recognition of the right of the artist and creator to freedom of expression and freedom from censorship. We have also adopted into our Draft the language you are considering that provides an explicit prohibition on the use of the Convention in a manner that would infringe human rights. The INCD Convention will explicitly cite the significant related rights as does your own Draft.
The INCD also believes access to a diversity of media and information sources and to opportunities to produce and distribute media programming are fundamental conditions of democratic societies. In this context, politically independent public service broadcasting, administered at-arms length from government, and a strong community broadcasting sector both have vital roles to play.
There must be special recognition of the need to preserve threatened cultures, especially languages, including those of indigenous peoples. There must be recognition of the need to protect traditional knowledge. When ratifying the Convention, governments should make a concrete commitment to ensuring the flourishing of the rich diversity of all cultures within their territories.
The INCD believes that using the language of trade to outline the kinds of government measures that are permissible in a cultural context, is one of the ways to build a barrier against the trade agreements. For example, we use some of this language in Articles 13 and 14 of our Draft.
We reached few conclusions about the governance and institutional arrangements that are required for the Convention. However, we urge that you incorporate fundamental principles from the INCD’s work into your Draft. The dispute settlement process must be transparent, it must guarantee input from third parties and non-governmental organizations and must acknowledge that the rights of individuals are equivalent to corporate rights.
Both the INCD and the INCP are united in the goal of achieving more balanced exchanges between cultures. The objective of the Convention is not to replace the domination of one by the domination of another, nor should it foster the isolation of one from the other. Both the INCD and INCP should look again at our Drafts to ensure they provide the strongest guarantees possible.
Given the aggressive negotiating agenda within the WTO and the numerous bilateral trade talks that are taking place, it is urgent we move forward quickly to achieve the implementation of the Convention. However, urgency should not lead us to an ineffective Treaty or an inappropriate forum.
On our side, the INCD will launch a campaign to disseminate information about the issue. We will raise awareness in our communities and through them influence other governments. The INCD will launch a multi-pronged communications strategy and will advocate for the Convention in other fora.