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Context of 'June 30, 1998: Canada Initiates International Alliance of Culture Ministers'

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A new international alliance of culture ministers “to promote and protect cultural diversity” is formed at the conclusion of the two-day International Meeting on Culture Policy held in Ottawa, Canada. Attending culture ministers from Armenia, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Morocco, Poland, Senegal, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom—dubbed the Ottawa Group of Ministers—agree to set up the International Network on Cultural Policy (INCP). Both the ministers’ meeting and the formation of the new alliance were launched at the initiative of Canada, largely through its Heritage Minister Sheila Copps. An initial “contact group” consisting of Sweden, Mexico, Greece, and Canada is formed to coordinate activities of the new network. Canada provides the first secretariat for INCP. The ministers agree to set the next meeting to be held the following year in Mexico, and the meet after that, in 2000, in Greece. Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps says, in the light of the network’s formation, “Canadians are delighted that we’ve found so many other countries that share our determination to put culture front and centre on the global stage and to promote cultural diversity for everyone in the world.” [International Network on Cultural Policy, 6/30/1998]

Entity Tags: Sheila Copps, International Network on Cultural Policy

Timeline Tags: Neoliberalism and Globalization

UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity is adopted at its 31st General Conference, the international agency’s governing body, in Paris, France. It is the highlight of the first ministerial-level meeting held by the international body after 9/11. The landmark international instrument brings cultural diversity to the unprecedented level of being defined “the common heritage of humanity” and deemed “as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature.” In a statement marking the adoption, UNESCO Director General Koïchiro Matsuura says the declaration is “an opportunity for states to reaffirm their conviction that intercultural dialogue is the best guarantee of peace and to reject outright the theory of the inevitable clash of cultures and civilizations.” Matsuura adds that the declaration “can be an outstanding tool for development, capable of humanizing globalization.” The declaration is adopted just less than a year after “preliminary items” for a draft declaration on cultural diversity were first submitted at the second round table of culture ministers held on December 11-12, 2000 in Paris, France. The “preliminary items” were proposed alongside the presentation by a UNESCO Experts Committee of its conclusions on “strengthening UNESCO’s role in promoting cultural diversity in the context of globalization.” [UNESCO, 11/2001]

Entity Tags: Koichiro Matsuura, World Trade Organization, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Timeline Tags: Neoliberalism and Globalization

Through a unanimous all-party vote at its National Assembly, Quebec becomes the first government worldwide to approve the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The approval comes just three weeks after the landslide vote for the international convention at the UNESCO 33rd General Conference in Paris, France. The day’s favorable vote on the convention is marked as well by statements by leading officials of Quebec noting Quebec’s prime role in the formation of the UNESCO instrument, as well as how the convention boosts Quebec’s efforts to protect and promote its cultural industries. Deputy Premier and Minister of International Relations Monique Gagnon-Tremblay emphasizes Quebec’s important contribution to the “emergence of an international instrument of fundamental importance for the cultural sector, and over and beyond this, for the socio-economic development of all our peoples at the beginning of the 21st century.” Culture and Communications Minister Line Beauchamp ends her own statements by calling the adoption of the convention “a great day for Quebec culture,” adding: ”(T)he fundamental issue is the commitment of states to support their cultures through cultural policies that take the form of subsidies, tax credits, of regulatory policies.… We should be aware to what degree everyday life is shaped and affected by culture and artistic creations.… It is important to realize that the cultural policies I just described are behind the songs you hear on the radio, the television programs you watch, the books you read, your encounters with culture.” For his part, Claude Béchard, minister of economic development, innovation, and exports, stresses the convention “will serve as a tool of reference for states facing pressure to liberalize their cultural sectors by helping to legitimize at the international level their cultural policies.” Premier Jean Charest, meantime, highlights the close cooperation between Quebec and the federal government of Canada in building international support for the convention. Charest indicates again his government is determined to continue championing the convention internationally, and to continue supporting Canada’s Coalition for Cultural Diversity and Quebec’s leading cultural organizations in their work to mobilize cultural professionals around the world to support ratification. [Coalition Update, 11/2005]

Entity Tags: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Claude Béchard, Jean Charest, UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, Line Beauchamp, Monique Gagnon-Tremblay

Timeline Tags: Neoliberalism and Globalization

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