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Archived updates for Tuesday, October 25, 2005

UN Adopts Convention on Cultural Diversity

On October 20, 2005, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) approved its UNESCO press release
The Convention seeks to reaffirm the links between culture, development and
dialogue and to create an innovative platform for international cultural cooperation; to this end, it reaffirms the sovereign right of States to elaborate cultural policies with a view “to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions” and “to create the conditions for cultures to clourish and to freely interact in a mutually beneficial manner” (Article 1).
There is only one direct reference to intellectual property rights in the draft, located in the preamble, according to non-governmental sources. Item 17 of the preamble calls for recognition of “the importance of intellectual property rights in sustaining those involved in cultural creativity.” However, according to William New wiritng for Intellectual Property Watch, the spirit of the meeting had taken on a symbolism of defiance to the wide availability of US cultural influences. When a reporter accidentally asked a European delegate, “are you US?”, the reply was, “Not yet!”

“This is not about culture, it’s about trade,” a US official reportedly said in an interview afterward. “This is trade policy by cultural ministers” hesaid, refrring to specific efforts at the World Trade Organization by France to block liberalisation of audiovisual products, and by Canada to protect its publications.

The Convention will enter into force three months after its ratification by 30 States. While only the US and Israel opposed (and Australia and the South Pacific island of Kiribati abstained) some European nations like the United Kingdom, have privately assured the United States that they do not intend to ratify it, a US official said. The US does not plan to ratify the treaty, the official said.
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