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First meeting of the Drafting Committee for the Preliminary Draft Convention on Cultural Diversity

16-12-2004 - The Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, opened the first meeting of the Drafting Committee for the Preliminary Draft Convention on the protection of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions on 14 December 2004 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

This Committee, whose membership was proposed in September, is meeting for 4 days from 14 to 17 December. Its purpose is to make proposals for “formulations in clear legal language that betray the positions of no-one while seeking to produce a synthesis of the essential points”, on the basis of the comments received from Member States, the concerned international organizations (UNCTAD, WTO and WIPO) as well as several non-governmental organizations.

Referring to the contributions received, the Director-General said that, above and beyond UNCTAD and WIPO, with which UNESCO had always maintained close ties, he was particularly satisfied with the “excellent atmosphere of trust” that had been built up with WTO since the work of drafting the Convention had begun. “As soon as the Director-General of WTO received the draft last July, he noted, he circulated it to all heads of delegation of the Organization’s Member States, inviting them to communicate their opinions and comments to him. Since WTO can only express an official position based on the opinions of its Member States, so as to collate effectively their viewpoints on the preliminary draft, last November 11 the WTO Secretariat organized an informal meeting of heads of delegation chaired by the Director-General of WTO, at which UNESCO was represented”.

Mr Matsuura also recalled that the first session of the intergovernmental meeting last September had brought together some 600 participants representing 132 Member States as well as a number of international organizations, NGOs and civil society representatives. “This is a sign of the great interest this project is arousing. The exciting and constructive debates that took place made it possible to see how attached Member States are to the principal objectives of the Convention, whose aim is to take appropriate steps to create a framework conducive to a thriving diversity of cultural expressions, the main vectors of which are cultural goods and services, the specific nature of which thus needs to be recognized. As a result, among the Convention’s core objectives is also that of strengthening international cooperation and solidarity in a spirit of worldwide partnership” he underlined.

Speaking to the members of the Drafting Committee, Mr Matsuura said: “You are asked to weigh the scope of each term, each expression. Your task is no easy one. You will certainly find yourselves obliged to propose alternative wording whenever irreconcilable differences spring up. But in many cases, I am sure you will find the consensus formula that reflects the thoughts and opinions of all. The task you are undertaking, as you well know, is thus a daunting challenge: the position of each Member State must, under your drafting pen, find its rightful place. Impartiality combined with flexibility will therefore be your only assets as you tackle this delicate challenge”.

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