Thursday, November 10, 2005

Another View of the Convention on Cultural Diversity

Read the full IrelandOn-Line article from October 17, 2005.

I am posting excerpts this article from last month because it gives a view of the deliberations from Ireland, a strong ally of the United States which has both a strong policy for preservation of Gaelic culture and an open economy.

"Culture clash pits US against allies"

"The US today found itself isolated at the UN?s cultural agency, with even traditional ally Britain in the opposing camp over a proposed pact on cultural diversity that the US ambassador said could be used to erect trade barriers against cultural exports.

?'This has been a very disappointing experience, both in terms of the process and the substance. This is not the way most negotiations go in multilateral international organisations,' US Ambassador to Unesco Louise Oliver said........

"The majority of Unesco?s member states support the project, including Britain. British ambassador Timothy Craddock said the draft text was 'clear, carefully balanced, consistent with the principles of international law and fundamental human rights.'

"He also said the European Union believes that the convention was 'frequently and thoroughly negotiated by all parties, most of whom have made several compromises during this process.'

"He spoke on the EU?s behalf because Britain currently holds the 25-nation bloc?s rotating presidency.........

"French Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres hailed the text as a recognition of France?s long-held contention that cultural activities should be given separate consideration in trade talks and are 'not a merchandise like any other.'.........

"Asked if the US is again thinking of withdrawing from Unesco, Oliver said: 'That?s not under discussion.'.........

"She told the Unesco meeting that negotiations seemed to have been driven by 'a desire for speed, rather than a demand for a quality consensus text.'

?'The door to negotiations that might have led to consensus ... was slammed shut in the face of unresolved, legitimate and reasonable US concerns,' she said."

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