Multilateral Fora - UNESCO
"Cultural Diversity at international level"
The conditions for preserving and promoting cultural diversity in Europe and in the rest of the world depend not only on economic conditions, but also on a multitude of other structural factors.
Among the elements influencing the conditions for cultural expression, consumption and exchanges figure:
presence of linguistic minorities;
territories with less widely spoken languages;
links to national or regional identities;
material or non-material nature of traditions and cultural heritage;
historical links with other countries;
The challenge of globalisation
At European level this diversity of situations has already become the dominant reality and has been enriched by the recent historic enlargements, which have brought in 12 new Member States. At world level, globalisation, although it introduces new possibilities for exchanges between cultures, can threaten the more vulnerable cultures and give rise to standardisation phenomena which are likely to jeopardise cultural diversity.
The European Union approach
The European Union has long recognised the dual nature — cultural and economic — of cultural goods and services, and Article 167(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union requires the Union to take cultural aspects into account in its overall action. Yet at international level, until recently, there was no legally binding instrument recognising the specific nature of cultural expressions.
The UNESCO Convention
The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions aims to fill a legal vacuum in the world governance by establishing a series of rights and obligations, at both national and international levels, with a view to protecting and promoting cultural diversity. This instrument should play a similar role for cultural diversity, at the same normative level, as World International Property Organisation conventions, World Trade Organisation agreements, World Health Organisation agreements and Multilateral Environment Agreements.
The EU and the Convention
The full participation of the European Union and its Member States in implementing the Convention will in particular contribute to:
establishing a new pillar of world governance with the aim of ensuring protection and promotion of cultural diversity;
emphasising the specific and dual (cultural and economic) nature of cultural goods and services;
recognising the role and legitimacy of public policies in the protection and promotion of cultural diversity;
recognising the importance of, and promoting, international cooperation to respond to cultural vulnerabilities, in particular with regard to developing countries;
defining appropriate links with other international instruments that enable the Convention to be implemented effectively.
The EU ratified the Convention on 18 December 2006 (see also the complete list of Parties).