Cultural Policy Moves Centre Stage

By Holly Aylett

UK Ratifies the Unesco Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

On November 30th 2007, the UK Government finally ratified the UNESCO Convention for Diversity of Cultural Expressions. It has joined 75 signatory states who jointly represent over half the world’s population.

For the first time culture is given parity of status alongside economic, social justice and environmental agendas in development policy. For the first time, a legal instrument exists to safeguard the rights of signatory states to develop cultural policies; policies which champion values for cultural works which are distinct from the simple commodity value addressed by global policies for liberalisation.

This Convention has come about through grass roots action by cultural organisations across the globe, and civil society is expected to play a critical role in its implementation. Coalitions of creator organisations, NGOs, and those active in cultural policy, have been set up to promote and implement its objectives. Holly Aylett, Senior Research Fellow at London Metropolitan University’s Global Policy Institute, and former MEP Dr Carole Tongue are founding directors of the UK Coalition for Cultural Diversity, which is playing a leading role in this country.

An international framework and imperative now exists to give cultural works far greater importance in achieving international development goals and understanding. The challenge is to redress the extreme imbalance of exchange and production between North and South, and to use the Convention as a springboard for greater cultural endeavour and exchange between peoples globally.

For more information visit UNESCO: or contact Holly Aylett at