On 8 December 2010, the European Commission, with the support of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU, held a high-level conference to celebrate the 5-year anniversary of the adoption of the UNESCO Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions.
Discussions recalled the significance of the Convention, both as a legal instrument and an inspirational tool for the preservation of the world's cultural heritage, and looked at future actions that need to be taken in order to ensure full implementation of the Convention.
The growing recognition of the economic potential of culture was an issue that recurred throughout the three panel discussions which brought together Ministers of Culture, UNESCO and civil society representatives from different corners of the world. Speakers emphasised the need for more systematic integration of culture into development policy and instruments, in order to fulfil its full potential as a tool for sustainable and inclusive growth.
Promoting development and cultural diversity on a global scale also requires strengthened cooperation among countries particularly in the field of international trade. Effective measures are needed to tackle the barriers restricting the mobility and access to cultural resources of artists from the developing world. In this regard, Mrs Olivia Grange, the Minister of Culture of Jamaica, called for the full implementation of existing cooperation protocols including provisions related to the travel of CARIFORUM artists.
Added to this was the reminder that cultural expressions and freedom of speech are a fundamental human right. Policy makers agreed on the importance of safeguarding this right as a fundamental element of their commitment to promoting a full diversity of cultural expressions.
In his closing remarks, Director General Jan Truszczynski stressed the importance of cementing existing partnerships and creating new synergies across national borders and various policy fields in order to effectively address the challenges of implementing the Convention.
Future progress, he recalled, can benefit immensely from favourable conditions for international cooperation and dialogue.