Convention on Cultural Diversity
In the Fall of 2003, UNESCO will consider the introduction of an international agreement on cultural diversity. Proponents of this convention view the commitments made by countries in trade agreements as weakening the ability of countries to pursue domestic policies to preserve and promote cultural diversity. We review the existing draft wording for a convention and conclude that it fails to meet the necessary conditions for an enforceable rules-based international agreement. Countries are given rights to introduce policies that promote cultural diversity but have no clear obligations. What constitutes cultural diversity is self-defined by each member country. When there is a clash between countries in the exercise of rights, no effective dispute resolution mechanism has been set out. No procedure is outlined to determine how commitments made in other trade agreements, such as the WTO affecting cultural goods and services, will be managed. The requirements for developing an effective dispute resolution mechanism are absent. In our view, a sectoral agreement within the WTO is a more promising route to follow.