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17 Jun 2009

Cultural diversity: Québec welcomes Canada’s re-election to the Intergovernmental Committee

Photo © UNESCO/ Nina Levinthal

The second session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions concluded in Paris on June 16. The meeting was aimed primarily at approving operational guidelines facilitating the implementation of the Convention and electing new members to the Intergovernmental Committee. In this regard, Québec welcomes Canada’s resounding re-election to a second consecutive term. Building on the UNESCO agreement between the Québec and Canadian governments, Québec will continue to play an active role in the Committee’s initiatives and negotiations.

In addition to adopting a number of draft operational guidelines concerning nearly a dozen of the Convention’s articles, the Conference of the Parties asked the Intergovernmental Committee to submit draft guidelines for three more articles for approval at the Conference’s next session.

In his remarks to the Conference, Michel Audet, Québec’s representative within Canada’s permanent delegation to UNESCO, noted the quality of the operational guidelines that were adopted. He emphasized that Québec would continue to reflect on the Convention’s scope and objectives, most notably via the weekly newsletter and cultural diversity website operated by the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine (MCCCF). According to Mr. Audet, a new essay by Professor Ivan Bernier, an internationally recognized independent expert, will soon be posted on the MCCCF’s website. Professor Bernier’s essay will focus on the scope and interpretation of Articles 20 and 21 of the Convention, which deal with the relationship between the Convention and other existing legal instruments.

The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions was adopted by UNESCO on October 20, 2005 and officially entered into force on March 18, 2007; nearly 100 states have ratified it thus far. As a result of the operational guidelines approved by the Conference, the Convention became effective only three and a half years after it was adopted, setting “an all-time record for UNESCO”, according to Director-General Koichiro Matsuura.

Québec played a key role in the process leading to the adoption of the Convention and was the first government to call for the creation of an international legal instrument recognizing the right of states and governments to freely develop their own cultural policies and take effective measures in this regard. Québec was also the first government to approve the Convention following its adoption by UNESCO. Implementing the Convention is a top priority for the Government of Québec.

Cultural diversity: MCCCF website
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