The Tunisian Constitution of 2014 has paved the way for new opportunities in the cultural sector. Amongst the fundamental rights recognized by the new Constitution, freedom of expression, information and publication as well as intellectual property, women’s rights and the right to culture are all included. Conditions for creation and innovation are increasingly favorable in this context, especially for the youth. In parallel, Tunisia has developed its first development plan since the 2011 Arab Spring. This ambitious five-year Development Plan 2016-2020 aims at attaining an annual GDP growth of 4% compared to precedent growth of 1,5% in the past years.
In this context, creative industries, including the media, culture and digital services, have every chance to position themselves as buoyant niches for job creation and revenue generation. In particular, the music and book industries show high potential for development with more than 10,000 active musicians in the country and the organization of events such as the Tunis International Book Fair.
Some challenges remain, however, such as the need to improve the social and economic status of artists and to reinforce certain elements of the cultural value chain.
Against this backdrop, this capacity-building project provides an opportunity to create much-needed dialogue between civil society and the government as well as between different ministries concerning the state of affair of the cultural sector. Specifically, the training in periodic reporting, indicator building and data collection offers the chance to define new priorities for the coming years.
The consultation meeting took place on 18 July 2016 in Sidi Bou-Saïd gathering representatives of the government and 15 representatives of civil society organizations. It was opened with remarks from H.E. Sonia Mbarek, Minister of Culture and Heritage Preservation and M. Fredrik Florén, Ambassador of Sweden to Tunisia. During the meeting, a number of Tunisian measures and policies implementing the 2005 Convention were recalled as well as the aspects of the new Constitution (2014) supporting the principles of the Convention. Moreover, a diagnostic was made on the needs of the cultural sector and possible future strategies were brought forward, in particular the establishment of baseline data on culture and the reinforcement of decentralization as envisaged in the 2014 Constitution. In 2016, approx. 40 to 50 municipalities were newly created. In December 2017, the first municipal elections will be held, based on the new Constitution.
The training workshop took place between 15-17 September 2016 in Hammamet gathering 12 members of the national team. The workshop contributed to not only building the capacities of the national team and enhancing their understanding of the 2005 Convention but also facilitating an open and fruitful dialogue among the team members on the different monitoring areas covered by the periodic report. Special attention was given to the role of civil society in the elaboration of the periodic report, the distinction between cultural diversity and the diversity of cultural expressions and the links and differences between the 2003 and 2005 Conventions of UNESCO.
The drafting period of the periodic report took place between September 2016 and December 2016. On 24 November 2016, a first draft of the periodic report was presented in Tunis gathering 20 participants from civil society and the government. The presentation provided the opportunity for the participants to include their input for the report. The discussions focused on the need to provide better baseline statistics for the report and the lack of policies and measures addressing the diversity of cultural expressions and digital technologies. After the incorporation of the feedback, the periodic report was submitted to UNESCO on 7 December 2016.