UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with the responsibility for culture in its constitution. It is mandated to promote the “fruitful diversity of cultures” and “the free flow of ideas by word and image.” [constitution]. Since its inception in 1946 it has placed the pursuit of cultural diversity at the heart of its activities by promoting culture as a platform to achieve the lofty goals stated in its preamble – building peace in the minds of men and women.
The adoption in 2005 and the recent entry into force of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions is the last of a half century of efforts in promoting and protecting culture internationally. This latest Convention recognizes the current global economic and social demands on culture and creativity. With the view that “cultural expressions (are), as circulated and shared through cultural activities, goods and services, the most contemporary transmitters of culture,” it strives to link the social and economic benefits of culture.
The goal of the convention is to support the creative industry production chain, namely the “creation, production, distribution and access and enjoyment of cultural expressions conveyed by cultural activities, goods and services.” (Appendix 17) It proposes to aid UNESCO’s Member States in achieving these goals by providing a platform “that creates the conditions for cultures to flourish,” by recognizing the unique nature of cultural goods and services. It also offers new means and arrangements for international cooperation while reaffirming the “sovereign rights of States to maintain, adopt and implement policies and measures that they deem appropriate for the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions on their territory.”
These objectives take the forms of rights enshrined in the convention. Each signatory state, details the convention, has the right to “provide opportunities for domestic cultural activities,” through access to the “means of production, dissemination and distribution.” It also encourages states parties to provide public financial assistance to establish and support cultural institutions. These rights come with the obligation of adhering states parties to promote a national environment of creation, production, dissemination and distribution.
The recognition of states rights in the convention to create and promote national cultural line is one of the main outcomes. By recognising the national right to draw a moral circle around the creative industries the debates on trade regulation that arise in other international forums could now involve a moral cultural component. (Appendix 18)