From 12 to 15 June 2017, UNESCO hosted the 6th Conference of Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in Paris. When assessing the conference, there are both positive and negative points.
Among the positive aspects, we can note the importance given to civil society organisations (NGOs) which organised their own forum on 12 June and are now recognized by the Secretariat and Member States as essential partners for implementing the Convention. In particular, NGOs have to prepare a report on progress made and obstacles encountered when implementing the Convention. This report will be submitted to Member States during the next Intergovernmental Committee Meeting in December 2017.
Still on the positive aspects, we were especially satisfied to note that the FIM initiative (backed by SMF and U2U) in favour of gender equality in the African music sector was mentioned in the UNESCO Secretariat’s report as contributing to achieving the objectives of the Convention (see paragraph 45).
Some States pay purely symbolic sums, 82 Party States have never made the slightest contribution to the fund
Another interesting aspect: Member States adopted operational guidelines on the implementation of the Convention in the digital environment. The text spotlights principles which, in our eyes, are essential, such as technological neutrality, respect of fundamental rights –including freedom of expression–, gender equality, the right of creators to fair remuneration, the respect of intellectual property rights or the right to carry out collective bargaining.
On the other hand, UNESCO is encountering great difficulties in funding the promotional activities of the Convention. This problem is the direct consequence of the surprisingly low level of contributions from states to the IFCD. For the 2016-2017 financial year, the fund has only collected $500,000US, just 10% of its objective, which is quite simply staggering. Some States pay purely symbolic sums, 82 Party States have never made the slightest contribution to the fund, which means that only an extremely limited amount of projects can be financed. We were shocked to hear that the Secretariat has consequently been forced to turn to private partners such as multinational Vivendi.