Friday, October 21, 2005

The Cultural Diversity Convention Coverage in the Washington Post

Read the full article in the Washington Post.

"In a vote cast as a battle of global conformity vs. cultural diversity, delegates to a U.N. agency turned aside strong U.S. objections Thursday and overwhelmingly approved the first international treaty designed to protect movies, music and other cultural treasures from foreign competition.

"The 148 to 2 vote at the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization emerged as a referendum on the world's love-hate relationship with Hollywood, Big Macs and Coca-Cola......

"U.S. officials say the measure could be used to unfairly obstruct the flow of ideas, goods and services across borders. Films and music are among the United States' largest exports -- the foreign box-office take for American movies was $16 billion in 2004. Assuring access to overseas markets for these products has been a prime U.S. goal at the World Trade Organization..........

"The vote came less than a month after delegates at a U.N.-organized summit in Geneva sided against the United States to try to remove technical control of the Internet from U.S. hands. Talks deadlocked after the European Union refused to support the United States, in a move that stunned American officials.

"'In the battles over issues critical to shaping the globe in the 21st century,' French sociologist Eric Fassin said, 'each side is defending its own best interests.' Most of the world, he said, is asking: 'Is there only one way to look at things?'

"Proponents are uncertain how the convention would be enforced or how potential conflicts with the free-trade rules of the World Trade Organization would be resolved. The convention states that it is not intended to overrule existing treaties but would have equal force with future ones."

From the blogosphere:

Accidental Deliberations: "While the U.S. position was based on a claim to freedom of information (in this case, the freedom to dump whatever information it wants whenever and wherever it pleases), the real question was whether local languages and cultures could be defended and allowed to survive when faced with well-funded foreign influences - whether from the U.S. or otherwise. It's only appropriate that the U.N. nearly unanimously chose the right side of that question."


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