Ryan Posly hips us to UNESCO's latest plan to stop what The New York Times' Alan Riding calls "cultural invasion" and "the homogenizing effect of cultural globalization." By a vote of 148 to 2, the UN cultural body has approved the "Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions," a proposal giving signers an unspecified authority to take steps to protect their own cultures. Israel and the United States voted against, while Australia, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Liberia abstained.
It's not clear what the convention actually means. Riding claims it will permit participants to use "subsidies and quotas" to keep out American popular culture, but the convention contains no such language. Here is the operative section:
Article 8—Measures to protect cultural expressions
1. Without prejudice to the provisions of Articles 5 and 6, a Party may determine those special situations where cultural expressions on its territory are at risk of extinction, under serious threat, or otherwise in need of urgent safeguarding.
2. Parties may take all appropriate measures to protect and preserve cultural expressions in situations referred to in paragraph 1 in a manner consistent with the provisions of this Convention.
3. Parties shall report to the Intergovernmental Committee all measures taken to meet the exigencies of the situation, and the Committee may make appropriate recommendations.
Variety calls the vote "a slap in the face to the U.S.," which recently rejoined UNESCO, but it would be more accurate to say that the vote is a slap in the face to the approving countries' own populations. Common sense dictates that there'd be no need for this convention if nobody were buying American products, and the specific case indicates there's a lot more love than hate in what The Washington Post calls "the world's love-hate relationship with Hollywood, Big Macs and Coca-Cola." The convention was sponsored by France and Canada, and French "culture czar" Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres se vante that "We are no longer the black sheep on this subject."
Hey, Renaud, while you're winning the rest of the UNESCO apparatchiks over to your side, take a gander at the movies your own countrymen chose to spend their Euros on this year. And while you're at it, tell the Canadians—who are forced by their government to pretend they know your language—that they're also doing a heck of a job showing their disapproval of American cultural products.