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UNESCO intergovernmental session II, Second Day: Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Summary: In the morning, there was a reportback from the ad hoc working group on title and principles, which included the recommendation that the term 'protect' be bracketed, reflecting the US position. A discussion ensued on the legitimacy of the ad hoc working group versus the formal drafting committee, resulting more or less in a consensus that the drafting committee would be a more appropriate place to revise text than any ad hoc working group.

There was then a discussion of article 2, the principles, with the main upshot being a general agreement to condense the list of principles to be as short as possible. There was a large amount of support, especially from China and E. Asian countries, to include a new principle of national sovereignty.

There was a very wide consensus on adopting the broadest version of article 3, the scope of the convention; this is supposed to be communicated to the drafting committee.

NGOs had to scramble a bit when the chair suddenly announced that one NGO would have to speak for all of us after the governments were done; we found a temporary solution for today when the chair agreed to give us a block of 9 minutes rather than a single speaker, but we'll have to find a better process so we don't end up begging daily for more time to speak.

Discussion began on the definitions of key terms, but didn't get far; however, it does seem that there is a lot of support for deleting the reference to intellectual property from the definition of 'cultural goods and services,' which is good. At the end of the day, the plenary had made it through discussion of the title, principles, and scope, with recommendations for each of these sent to the drafting committee, and with discussion just beginning on the definitions of key terms in the convention. This was more progress than the first day, but still slow, especially since the really contentious stuff hasn't even been touched yet.


Blow by blow:

The day began with a reportback from the working group, which met for 3 hours last night to discuss the title and the objectives. The plan for the day was for plenary to review the working group proposals, and discuss principles, scope, and definititions.

In the report of the working group, it sounded like the US got its way, placing 'protect' in brackets. The EU, followed by many delegates, felt that the ad hoc working group was imbalanced and replicated the work of the drafting committee; most wanted this kind of work to go to the drafting committee, not to ad hoc working groups. Brasil called the brackets an attempt at a de facto veto. This debate more or less resulted in consensus on the drafting committee being the appropriate venue for boiling text down to fundamental positions, rather than ad hoc group. However, this debate was not closed and would return repeatedly.

Near the end of the morning discussion, which had moved on to article 2 on principles, the chair suddenly insisted that NGOs meet over lunch and appoint one person to make an intervention on behalf of all NGOs, which meant that NGOs had to scramble to respond. During lunch, we negotiated a temporary compromise of 9 minutes of time which we could organize as we like; however, we agreed in our meeting after lunch that a more permanent solution would have to be negotiated with the Chair. Free Press pushed NGOs to start from the position that the rules from the previous intergovernmental should be followed, which would mean that the chair would recognize NGOs as they asked to speak and place them on the list to speak after governments.

After lunch, the discussion of principles resumed. The USA was strongly for keeping principle 1, respect for human rights, as a standalone not to be merged with other points, and they also mentioned support for Article 19 of the UDHR. After 60 speakers, the plenary stopped discussing the principles. NGOs had our chance to intervene for 9 minutes, which we split among several speakers. Gary Neill from the INCD agreed to incorporate comments from the CRIS+ statement into his intervention: the need to include reference to respect for equality of men and women; reference to respect for indigenous peoples; and an emphasis on supporting local cultural production, not just national cultural production. Overall, the general consensus of the government delegates was to reduce the number of principles; with wide support for adding a principle of national sovereignty. The discussion and resulting consensus was sent to the drafting committee.

The discussion then moved to article 3: the scope of application of the convention.
Here, the debate was between those countries who wanted a narrow scope referring only to 'cultural policies' versus those who wanted a broader scope, ie policies and measures in general should be evaluated for the impacts they would have on the diversity of cultural production. Once again, this time in the discussion of scope, the US tried to bracket 'protect.' There was a brief debate over whether to use the term 'contracting parties' or 'states parties,' with the former being favored by the EU and the latter favored by the US. The chair ended up ruling that this debate could not take place during this meeting, but was a matter for the general assembly or other body. After hours, it was clear that there was the most support for option 3, which is the broadest formulation of scope. After a clear majority emerged, this article was sent to drafting committee.

At the end of the day, discussion began on the definitions of key terms in the convention, including: culture, cultural diversity, cultural expression, cultural goods and services, cultural industries, cultural capital, cultural policies, and some proposals for additional terms.

There was some agreement to use the definition of culture from the previous UNESCO Declaration on Dultural Diversity, but also a lot of countries wanting to delete the definition of culture from the text. There was general agreement to avoid making definitions unless the term being defined was clearly used in the convention and had not been defined in previous UN documents.

The most contentious definition is probably 'cultural goods and services,' with a range of views, including states who want to delete the definition, those who want to change it for a much simplified one (Canada), those who support the current version of the draft, and a great many (Brazil, India, Russian Federation, Ethiopia, many more) who strongly expressed a desire to delete the clause (c) on intellectual property from the definition of cultural goods and services. This appears to be the position of the majority of the drafting committee as well. This is good news; deleting that clause is also the position of the CRIS campaign position document, of which Free Press is a signatory.

At the end of the day, the plenary had made it through discussion of the title, principles, and scope, with recommendations for each of these sent to the drafting committee, and with discussion just beginning on the definitions of key terms in the convention. This was more progress than the first day, but still slow, especially since the really contentious stuff hasn't even been touched yet.
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