21 NOVEMBER 2005
Presented to the
International Network on Cultural Policy
(INCD Delegation to INCP: Professor Balla Moussa Daffé, Chairman, Senegalese Network of Socio-Cultural Actors; Jacques Béhanzin [Bénin], INCD Vice-Chair for Africa; Mireille Gagné [Canada], INCD Chair; Rafael Segovia [Mexico], INCD Steering Committee; Garry Neil [Canada] INCD Executive Director.)
The 6th Annual Meeting of the International Network for Cultural Diversity brought together 138 delegates from 45 countries. The Conference was held in Dakar in partnership with the Senegalese Network of Socio-Cultural Actors and the National Coalition for Cultural Diversity (Senegal). Together, these Senegalese organizations represent the full range of Senegal’s rich arts and cultural sector, from grass roots dance and music groups to the cultural industries, and this reflects as well the broad scope of INCD’s membership.
With the adoption of the UNESCO Convention on the protection and the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, the INCD and culture ministers in the INCP are moving into a new phase. We must work for the implementation of the Convention and work to find concrete ways to make it effective as a political and development tool. It is especially significant that we are embarking on this next phase of our work in Africa, the birthplace of humanity, and in Senegal, with its rich diversity of arts and culture that, unfortunately, is all too often not widely available.
In three days of dynamic dialogue we focused on four key issues:
the immediate ratification of the Convention by 70-85 UNESCO member states;
resisting demands in the WTO and regional and bilateral trade and investment agreements to make commitments that undermine the objectives and principles of the Convention and would render it meaningless;
identifying policy initiatives and projects that give life to the commitments in the Convention, particularly to create preferential opportunities for artists and cultural productions from the South and to provide the necessary resources to develop cultural capacity and creative industries; and
enhancing cooperation among states committed to the Convention, especially in fora where its objectives and principles are under threat, and between those states and civil society at national, regional and international levels.
Immediate Ratification of the UNESCO Convention
The International Network for Cultural Diversity is a worldwide network of organizations and individuals in the cultural sector working in our respective arts and culture disciplines to counter the adverse effects of economic globalization. INCD has more than 400 members in 71 countries, a number of which are networks with reach in many other countries.
INCD delegates celebrate along with culture ministers the adoption of the UNESCO Convention by 148 countries. This is a significant victory.
We view the sovereign right of States to implement and modify the policies and measures they need to support their own artists and cultural producers as the central political element of the Convention.
The detailed provisions provide a model of measures and programs that States can use to support their own artists and cultural producers. We urge governments to develop and share innovative cultural policies and practical models to give life to these provisions.
Clearly, collaboration between civil society, including associations of cultural professions, and culture ministers has been critical to the project’s success. We believe this collaboration can work for other initiatives which advance our common objectives: a flourishing of artistic activities in every community, the development of strong and vibrant creative industries and more balanced exchanges between cultures.
The challenges of achieving ratification should not be underestimated. INCD has said before that the Convention must be adopted by 70-85 countries if it is to have a real impact. We know this is an ambitious goal, but if civil society and supportive governments work together it is achievable. Our delegates leave Dakar with a commitment to work at the national and regional levels to help our governments to understand why ratifying the Convention is so crucial.
We urge African ministers to bring this issue to their colleague ministers at the meeting of African culture ministers bring held soon. A strong statement of support and guidance to heads of state could bring a large number of ratifications, and Africa could effectively take the lead in this process.
Ratification alone is not enough. We will also be insisting that UNESCO assumes the key role it is assigned under the terms, and we urge culture Ministers to do the same. It must collect and disseminate the critical information, so that we can all understand the state of development of the creative industries in each country and the current balance of trade in cultural goods and services. It must also convene a meeting of State Parties as soon as possible after implementation.
Resisting Trade Commitments that Threaten Cultural Diversity
Successful ratification of the Convention will not ease the pressure on governments to make commitments in trade and investment agreements that are incompatible with its vision of genuine cultural diversity and culture-driven development. Given current developments in the WTO and in bilateral and regional negotiations, delegates to the INCD meeting concluded that we must be more vigilant than ever.
We urge states to continue working with each other and with civil society to quarantine cultural goods and services from the trade and investment agreements. Recent moves by the governments of Kenya, Brazil, Venezuela and others to resist demands in the WTO from the European Union to establish minimum benchmarks in the General Agreement on Trade in Services are an important example of the potential for such solidarity.
INCD members at the meeting also signed an urgent appeal to the President of the Republic of Peru to resist the pressure from the United States to conclude a US/Andean free trade agreement without a comprehensive cultural exception.
As governments face pressure to make new commitments at the WTO and in regional and bilateral agreements, we urge Culture Ministers to work with trade ministers to ensure they understand the wide scope of cultural policy tools that are at risk. This extends beyond the audiovisual, publishing and music industries to include telecommunications, electronic commerce, retail and distribution services, the media and many other sectors. Commitments in any of these could potentially paralyze the ability of governments to protect and promote their own artists and cultural producers.
While we are disappointed that the Convention does not provide a legal vehicle to neutralize the negative impacts of existing commitments or current demands, we believe it provides a forum and a focus for states to resist these pressures. INCD urges governments to, for example:
resist making commitments in areas that impact negatively on cultural activities, goods and services or constrain the sovereign right of governments to determine and implement their own cultural policies and measures;
work together in expressing collective positions in defense of cultural diversity, and in particular maintain their solidarity in opposing current proposals for minimum benchmarks and new tactics to pressure governments to make commitments in the GATS negotiations;
seek opportunities in regional and bilateral negotiations to include provisions into agreements that make the objectives and principles of the Convention meaningful and enforceable, for example in the current negotiations for Economic Partnership Agreements between African, Caribbean and Pacific countries with the European Union under the 2000 Cotonou Agreements.
Promoting Culture-driven Development
A central theme of our discussions was that culture is an essential life force of our communities and we rejected approaches that treat culture only as an instrument for market-driven economic growth.
Developing cultural capacity in every society and culture is essential to promoting cultural diversity. Musicians, actors, writers, craftspeople, composers and other artists play a fundamental role in our societies. They both reflect a society to itself and others, and challenge us to think about what we can become. At our meeting INCD delegates learned of inspirational projects in Senegal, South Africa, Brazil, India and elsewhere, in music and traditional crafts. We heard how dance in Botswana has been used to create new economic and employment opportunities and to rescue young people from victimization and marginalization. Working to promote cultural expressions of ethnolinguistic groups and indigenous peoples is vitally important.
Cities are places in which the opportunities of cultural diversity can generate new forms of creativity. We consider local governments as key agents for cultural development and invite them to collaborate with each other, civil society and with other levels of government.
A focal point for our discussions was a paper on Strengthening Local Creative Industries and Developing Cultural Capacity for Poverty Alleviation, prepared for the INCD by Burama Sagnia, an African culture and development specialist. Burama wrote:
The study shows that creative industries are a ubiquitous asset, available in all countries. Through their effective nurturing and exploitation, they could significantly contribute to job creation, income generation and poverty alleviation. However, the opportunities offered by the industries are not fully exploited, especially by the developing countries, despite their rich and diverse cultural heritages. The major challenges facing developing countries include the inadequacy of relevant creative capacity to produce and circulate cultural goods and services in forms that can be readily consumed by developed countries; weak cultural infrastructure and institutional capability; and lack of access to finance and technology.
Like other regions and communities that have been marginalized, Africa has the artists, producers, entrepreneurs, and the stories and music. What it lacks is resources and technology. The Convention offers pathways for governments to create and enhance the opportunities offered by these assets. INCD was disappointed with the final decision on Articles 12 to 15, and Articles 17 and 18, which deal with international cooperation since there are few concrete obligations. But these Articles contain strong principles that can be used to work with and encourage governments to increase their commitment. We pledge to work with Culture ministers to build on these principles.
Specifically, the INCD proposes to culture ministers that we work together to use this tool to build cultural capacity and creative industries, and to provide resources and funding mechanisms for this purpose, to achieve more balanced exchanges of cultural goods and services, to create opportunities in the richer countries for the artists and cultural producers from the global South. For example, we urge governments of the global South to:
- use the measures described in Article 6 on the rights of States at a national level as a model for the development of their cultural policies;
- insist on the full implementation of the responsibilities of developed countries under Article 16 to provide “preferential treatment to artists and other cultural professionals and practitioners, as well as cultural goods and services from developing countries.” Preferential treatment has powerful implications in international law.
The Convention acknowledges the fundamental role of civil society in protecting and promoting cultural diversity. We look forward to our continued active and constructive collaboration with culture ministers in the INCP as we move into the era in which the Convention is operational. INCD will work with INCP to ensure the speedy ratification of the Convention, to promote opportunities for cultural actors, and to challenge developments and negotiations that threaten the integrity of local cultures and genuine cultural diversity in the national and international spheres. We look forward to meeting with INCP next year in Brazil to review progress with the Convention and discuss the potential for ongoing initiatives to promote and protect cultural diversity.