Cablegate Vanuatu | UNESCO: Countering the Cultural Diversity Convention

For a country like Vanuatu that prides itself on its policy of supporting our numerous cultures, languages and traditions, this 2005 cable is significant because it shows the USA attempting to use its political and diplomatic might to quash support from small nations, including Vanuatu, for an international convention established specifically to protect this cultural diversity.

The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions was conceived to protect national cultural policy from free trade agreements like the WTO/GATS or bilateral trade negotiations, and the US opposed it because they believed that it would hinder free trade (in other words, serve as a hindrance to US economic interests in cultural industries such as motion pictures and music).

Fortunately, US opposition to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions did not prevent it from being adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in Paris in October 2005.

To date, 117 member states have ratified the Convention; however Vanuatu has signed but not yet ratified the Convention.

Key quote from this cable:

If we are to slow down the convention it will take pressure at the highest levels in Washington and around the world to convince governments that they are supporting a non-democratic piece of international law that has been cloaked in the language of culture.

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