Promoting cultural diversity on Netflix, Spotify or YouTube, and fighting against the trafficking of Mayan or Yoruba heritage: these are two of the issues on the table of a world culture summit which is being held from Wednesday to Friday in Mexico City, a first since 1998.
Representatives of 160 countries, including a hundred ministers who have confirmed their presence, are due to adopt on Friday a declaration negotiated for a year at the end of this meeting entitled “World Culture”.
The statement seeks to ensure “artists’ rights” on the platforms, said the director general of Unesco Audrey Azoulay, who will inaugurate “Mondiacult” with the Mexican Minister of Culture Alejandra Frausto. Challenge: fight against “the impoverishment of cultural and linguistic diversity online”, according to the experts who worked on the statement. The danger ? The “artificial intelligence systems” and an “insufficient regulation of algorithms”.
It will also be about “unfair remuneration of artists”and “the uneven concentration of global cultural platforms”. Most are indeed made in the USA – even California – or European.
UNESCO wishes “that all artists have access to the online market, that diversity is accepted, and intellectual property is respected”indicates a source of the organization, without details for the moment on the courses of action.
In the real world and the universe of objects, the Mexico Declaration claims to reinforce “the code of ethics for art dealers”. How ? With a “certificate of origin” guaranteeing that the works they sell “have been legally obtained”told Ms. Azoulay to the Mexican newspaper El Universal.
Mexico continues to demand the return to the country of its immense Mesoamerican heritage dispersed in Europe and the United States. “My heritage does not sell”insists the Mexican Minister of Culture, Alejandra Frausto, at each auction in Paris or elsewhere of a Tehotihuacan mask or the statue of a Mayan goddess.
The African Union, for its part, announced the organization of a round table on the nagging question of “the restoration of cultural heritage” to sub-Saharan countries. Unesco is considering in the same vein for 2025 “a virtual museum of stolen cultural property”on the eve of this unprecedented meeting for 40 years.
In its most political aspects, the Mexico Declaration intends to define culture as a “global public good” including it “in the next United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as was the case for education in 2015”.
Finally, the Mondialult meeting wants to lead to “a definition of a global corpus of cultural rights”. It’s about “artists’ rights” but also of “right of indigenous communities to the transmission of their traditions”, says a spokesman for Unesco. “Indigenous languages are essential to save cultural diversity”, explains the general manager. “In the grand challenge of tackling climate change, indigenous knowledge is fundamental.”
The final declaration aims to mobilize culture “in international discussions on climate change (…) including through traditional and indigenous knowledge systems”.
The countries will meet by workshop. Ukraine will participate via video in a roundtable on “heritage and cultural diversity in crisis”. Together with Iran and China, Russia will host another meeting on the theme “renewed and strengthened cultural policies”.
The experts who prepared the meeting condemn “actions that target culture in the context of armed conflicts”.
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Shelved for 40 years, the World Culture Summit brings together 160 countries in Mexico
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