UN Cultural Diversity treaty negotiations to tackle trade/investment treaty relationship

INVEST-SD: Investment Law and Policy News Bulletin, May. 5, 2005

IISD

UN Cultural Diversity treaty negotiations to tackle trade/investment treaty relationship

By Luke Eric Peterson

The Paris-based United Nations Economic Social and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO) will play host to a third and final round of intergovernmental
negotiations later this month on a proposed convention for the
protection of the diversity of cultural products and artistic
expression.

The draft convention negotiations have been spearheaded by countries
seeking to strengthen international protections for cultural diversity.

One of many vexing questions remaining to be worked out by negotiators
will be the relationship between the proposed convention and existing
and future trade and investment treaties which may apply to cultural
industries and which might impose restrictions on government cultural
policies.

While the Government of Canada is known to exclude cultural industries
from its international investment treaties, most other bilateral
investment treaties neglect to do so - thereby raising questions as to
whether governments may introduce or impose discriminatory policies
designed to favor local cultural products.

As reported in past editions of this News Bulletin, cultural industries
have been a flashpoint in certain investment treaty negotiations, with
the US Government calling for South Korea to reduce its protection
accorded to domestic film products as a condition for obtaining an
investment treaty with the United States.

The third round of UNESCO negotiations on the proposed cultural
protection convention are slated to take place from May 25 to June 4,
with governments looking to agree a "preliminary draft" convention which
might be tabled for consideration at an October 2005 General Conference
of UNESCO member-states.

Further information about the UNESCO initiative is available on-line here

source: IISD