Objectives of the UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Cultural diversity creates a rich and varied world, which enhances democracy, tolerance, social justice, and mutual respect. Cultural diversity increases the range of choices, nurtures human capacities and values, and is as such a mainspring for sustainable development.

Unlimited cultural self-determination on the basis of human rights

Individuals and social groups have the right to make personal decisions about artistic and cultural expression, and to access and participate in culture freely. The basis for this is the full realisation of the rights and freedoms proclaimed in the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. No one may invoke the provisions of this Convention in order to infringe human rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the Declaration.

Recognition of the “dual nature” of cultural goods and services

Cultural goods and services are both commodities and the means of conveying identities, values, and meanings. As such they are the subject of cultural policy. The goal is to create the conditions for “cultures to flourish and to freely interact in a mutually beneficial manner” (Article 1). It is in the broad interest of society not to leave the cultural sector to the whims of market forces.

Right to cultural policy

Every nation is entitled to formulate its own cultural policy to ensure fundamental public goods and to establish a framework for a pluralistic cultural landscape. The Parties to the UNESCO Convention commit themselves to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions within their territory (Article 6).

Participation of civil society

The Parties acknowledge the “fundamental role of civil society in protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions” and encourage the active participation of civil society in the implementation process (Article 11).

International co-operation

The Parties commit themselves to international co-operation with binding rules and regulations for exchange of cultural products. This includes the protection of sustainable local and regional markets of independent cultural industries (Article 6), the conclusion of co-production and co-distribution agreements (Article 12), and preferential treatment for developing countries for cultural exchange with developed countries (Article 16) – this in particular in situations of serious threat (Article 8 and 17).

Integration of culture in sustainable development

The Parties to the Convention integrate culture as strategic element at all levels in their national and international development policies and thus contribute towards sustainable development (Article 13).

Information sharing

In order to assess the global situation of diversity of cultural expressions, analyses, best practices, and relevant information should be shared and disseminated systematically (Article 19), for example by designating national points of contact (Article 9 and 28).

Equality with other international treaties

The UNESCO Convention is complementary to other international treaties, such as GATT (1994) and GATS (1995) of the World Trade Organisation, and is neither subordinate nor of higher ranking. The Parties shall also take the objectives of cultural diversity into account when implementing other agreements and consult each other to this end (Article 20 and 21).