The Economics of Cultural Heritage

European MPs attempt to influence a new UNESCO convention

As part of a new series on cultural heritage, Tiscali Europe looks at the political state of play in and around Europe.

In a recent vote in Strasbourg, MEPs agreed their position on UNESCO's draft international Convention on Cultural Diversity, which is set to beef up global thinking on culture by Autumn 2005. Parliament essentially wants a "binding, standard-setting instrument" for the protection of cultural diversity.

Keen to influence the Commission and EU member states, MEPs say the EU should highlight how "cultural services and products have a dual nature as economic and cultural goods and cannot be equated with ordinary merchandise".

MEPs also want the Convention to emphasize the rights of states to develop "laws designed to promote cultural diversity and media pluralism, notably regarding pubic broadcasters". In this way, Parliament seeks to ensure the "democratic and social relevance" of these laws.

At the same time, MEPs insisted the Convention "be based upon the principles of individual human rights" with a view to preventing "the concept of cultural diversity being used as a pretext for practices which contravene human rights".

Howard Hudson
18 April 2005