'United in Divergency': A Commentary on the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions
Rostam J. Neuwirth
University of Macau - Faculty of Law
Heidelberg Journal of International Law (HJIL), Vol. 66, pp. 819-862, 2006
On October 20, 2005 the General Conference of UNESCO adopted the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The Convention marks the so far latest development in a chain of “culture and trade conflicts” that include, for instance, the inclusion of Article IV of the GATT 1947, the emergence of satellite broadcasting in the 1960s, the dispute over audiovisual services towards the end of the Uruguay Round, and the WTO’s ruling in the Canada Periodicals Case. Often evolving at the same pace as technological progress, these conflicts are principally caused by the dual, i.e. economic and cultural, nature of cultural goods and services, commonly referred to as the cultural industries. The duality of the cultural industries gives rise to difficult problems with regard to their legal classification and treatment, as they are not only an important economic factor in international trade but also the principal carriers of cultural identity and cultural diversity. Thus, it is this dual nature that requires a common consideration of the two areas of culture and of trade, each of which has so far been subject to a distinct and fragmented substantive as well as formal treatment under international law. Against this backdrop, this article inquires whether the new Convention will be capable of substantially improving the regulatory situation of the cultural industries in the digital age with a view of mitigating the potential negative effects that trade liberalisation may have for the cultural variety of the globe. The achievement of this goal, it is argued, heavily rests upon the responsibility of the international community in combination with the competent international organisations to foster the coherence between the respective objectives of cultural policies and of trade policies with a view of enhancing the institutional unity and efficiency of the international legal order.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
Keywords: International Law, UNESCO, Cultural Diversity, Culture and Trade, WTO
JEL Classification: K33Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 6, 2010
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