In Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic & Social Council

Asia-Pacific Cultural Organizations Gather in Vancouver to Discuss Potential of UNESCO Convention for Region

Representatives of cultural organizations from 10 Asia-Pacific Countries gathered in Vancouver, Canada, for a two-day meeting focusing on implications and opportunities presented by the UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions for the development of cultural industries in the region.

The two-day meeting, presented by the Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity in partnership with the Commonwealth Foundation and the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (IFCCD) was opened by Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore, who reiterated Canada’s strong support for the UNESCO Convention.

“This important instrument recognizes that the contribution our artists and creators make to our society is a public good, one to be cherished and one to be protected,” he added.

“It’s very important that we continue to do this, not only here at home but abroad. That is what this convention is all about. It’s about allowing governments to create the right environment for our cultures to thrive.”

“We want to help countries build their capacity to promote cultural diversity by being open to other countries and cultures and by promoting their local and national cultural expressions. And by sharing other countries’ cultural perspectives so that their stories and experience contribute to an enriched cultural world.”

“Canada, and all of our fellow signatories to the Convention, benefit from clear ground rules. By recognizing that cultural goods have a social as well as economic value, this international instrument allows us to adopt and maintain policies that support our cultural expressions,” the Minister stated.

The Minister noted that 96 ratifications to date represented impressive progress, but emphasized the need for more work by both governments and civil society to promote broader ratification to ensure that the full legal and political potential of the Convention as an instrument for upholding the right of countries to apply cultural policies is realized.

On this count, he stressed the importance of increasing the number of ratifications by Commonwealth member countries (18 of 53 to date), and in particular from the Asia-Pacific Region. “We must work together, government and civil society, to ensure that the voices of Asia-Pacific countries are heard around the UNESCO table, particularly given the rich cultures of the region that contribute so much to the diversity of cultural expressions.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, participants adopted a statement in which they called on governments that have not yet done so to ratify the 2005 Convention, and to engage civil society in effectively implementing it. To this end, they also agreed to explore the possibility of bringing together cultural organizations in their countries to establish national coalitions for cultural diversity.
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