Statement by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

Submitted by Sasha Costanza-Chock on February 9, 2005.English

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) represents the interests of library and information services and their users worldwide. It is the global voice of the library and information profession and is a long-time accredited NGO (non-governmental organization) with UNESCO...

Statement by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA):
February 9, 2005
Paris, France

To Delegates to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Second Session of the Intergovernmental Meeting of Experts on the Preliminary Draft Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) represents the interests of library and information services and their users worldwide. It is the global voice of the library and information profession and is a long-time accredited NGO (non-governmental organization) with UNESCO.

IFLA's core values include the "belief that people, communities and organizations need universal and equitable access to information, ideas and works of imagination for their social, educational, cultural, democratic and economic well-being." These values coincide precisely with those underlying the draft Convention. That is why libraries want to be, and are natural, partners with UNESCO in the development and exchange of cultural resources.

The draft Convention obligates its members to ensure that all individuals have an opportunity to create, produce, disseminate, distribute and have access to cultural expressions. Libraries – and their sister cultural institutions, archives and museums – exist to carry out those obligations. Whether public or private, wherever located, we document, preserve and provide access to both current and historical cultural expression. Libraries are a critical element in education of every imaginable kind.

IFLA very much appreciates the efforts of the delegates as they have worked on the many difficult issues presented in crafting such an important Convention. A major continuing concern, however, is the language in many places in the current draft that shifts the Convention’s focus away from nurturing cultural expression and towards an emphasis on stricter enforcement of intellectual property laws. We believe that this tilt is particularly misplaced in a treaty that derives from a Declaration calling out for balanced intellectual property laws. Such balanced law - which promotes both the rights of creators and the needs of users who require access to information - is critical to libraries.

Significant international trade and intellectual property treaties – as well as other international bodies such as the World Intellectual Property Organization - are already in place to deal with these matters. We urge you not to let this convention become more about trade and intellectual property rights rather than about international cooperation to promote cultural diversity.

Contact on behalf of IFLA, www.ifla.org:

Miriam M. Nisbet
Legislative Counsel
American Library Association
1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20004
202-628-8410 (phone)
202-628-84
mnisbet AT alawash.org