News Releases

UWI joins the discussion on Cultural Diversity

For Release Upon Receipt - July 7, 2008

St. Augustine

The University of the West Indies, (UWI) St. Augustine Campus will welcome leaders of cultural organizations from across the Caribbean on Tuesday 8th July, 2008 at the Institute of International Relations (IIR) Pavilion, from 10:00 a.m. for a day-long public seminar on the UNESCO Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions.The specific focus will be on opportunities that the UNESCO convention presents for the development of the cultural industries of the Caribbean Region. The seminar is free and open to the public.

The Institute of International Relations is presenting this seminar in association with the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA), and Canada’s Coalition for Cultural Diversity with the financial support from the Commonwealth Foundation. This gathering is being organized by the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (IFCCD), which brings together national coalitions for cultural diversity representing more than 600 cultural organizations from 42 countries.

The day-long seminar will feature speakers from the Caribbean and Canada: Professor Emeritus Ivan Bernier, Faculty of Law, University of Laval, Quebec; Dr. Keith Nurse, Director of the Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy and Services at the Cave Hill Campus (Barbados) of The University of the West Indies; Mr. Peter Grant, LLB; and Ms. Véronique Guèvremont, Professor of Law, University of Laval, Quebec.

The seminar will also include an announcement regarding the Creative Industries Exchange that the Shridath Ramphal Centre has been commissioned by UNESCO’s Caribbean office to establish. The announcement will be made by Dr. Keith Nurse immediately following his presentation during the afternoon portion of the seminar.

The UNESCO Convention was adopted in October of 2005 and entered into force a little more than one year ago. International cooperation initiatives to support countries of the developing world in nurturing the emergence of their own cultural industries are a major theme of the convention. It is specifically addressed in several articles of the convention, and a dedicated International Fund for Cultural Diversity will be established with the objective of assisting developing countries in putting in place cultural policies and other measures to support their cultural industries. For countries to participate in the initiatives that will result from the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity, they must first ratify the convention at the national level.

However, ratification by more Caribbean states is needed if the convention is to be truly representative of all major world regions—to date; only Cuba, Jamaica and St. Lucia have done so. Practical avenues for making the case for more Caribbean states to ratify the convention will also be explored during the Port of Spain meeting.

For further information on the seminar please contact Mr. Jim McKee at or Ms. Marilyn Ramon-Fortuné at 662-2002 Ext. 2084.

About the UNESCO Convention

The UNESCO Convention is explicitly cited as the basis for the cultural cooperation protocol annexed to the recently-negotiated Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and CARIFORUM. It is now in the process of being implemented—the second meeting of the Convention’s Intergovernmental Committee concluded on June 27 in Paris. The convention’s importance lies in its historic recognition of the distinctive nature of cultural goods and services—and the fact that it affirms in international law the right of countries to apply policies to ensure their citizens have access to books, music, film, television, live performance, crafts, visual arts and other cultural content originating from within their own borders. As such, it has the potential to serve as an effective counterweight to the pressure on countries to give up this right in the context of trade negotiations.


  • Mr. Jim McKee or Ms. Marilyn Ramon-Fortune

  • Tel.: (868)662-2002 Ext. 2084
  • Email: