Tyler and the Global Cultural War

Tyler is in Paris again, a major player in what the NYTimes calls a global cultural war.

The idea of promoting cultural diversity around the world seems reasonable enough. It recognizes that everyone profits from the free flow of ideas, words and images. It encourages preservation of, say, indigenous traditions and minority languages. It treats the cultures of rich and poor countries as equal. And most topically, it offers an antidote to cultural homogeneity.

Try turning this seemingly straightforward idea into an international treaty, though, and things soon become complicated. Since October 2003, Unesco’s 190 members have been working on what is provisionally called the Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expression. It is intended to be approved by consensus this fall, but don’t count on it. There is still no agreement on its final name.

But that is a minor issue compared with more fundamental differences. Led by France and Canada, a majority of countries are asserting the right of governments to safeguard, promote and even protect their cultures from outside competition. Opposing them, a smaller group led by the United States argues that cultural diversity can best flourish in the freedom of the globalized economy.

A bid to break the deadlock is now under way at the Paris headquarters of Unesco…

Tyler will continue to blog from Paris but we are also pleased to be joined this week by our returning guest, Fabio Rojas.


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