A United Nations-backed international treaty to preserve the rich diversity of the world’s means of cultural expression, including its many languages, from the dangers of globalization has entered into force.
The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted by the General Conference of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in late 2005, became operative on Sunday, three months after it reached the required total of 30 ratifications.
The pact is designed to not only protect existing cultural expressions but to “create the conditions for cultures to flourish and to freely interact in a mutually beneficial manner,” according to one of its articles.
UNESCO has noted previously that half the world’s languages are in danger of extinction and that many areas of cultural production, such as cinema, are dominated by only a handful of nations.
An international fund for cultural diversity will be set up under the Convention and the text stresses the importance of culture in spurring development and encouraging international solidarity.
It also reaffirms that “freedom of thought, expression and information, as well as diversity of the media, enable cultural expressions to flourish within societies.”
When the number of ratifications reached 30 last December, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura observed that none of his organization’s other cultural conventions had been adopted by so many States so swiftly.
The convention has now been ratified by 35 countries and the European Community. The ratifying States are: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Guatemala, India, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Namibia, Peru, Moldova, Romania, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Togo.