Working together to promote the diversity of cultural expressions in Tunisia
UNESCO organized between 4 and 5 of May 2017 a series of training and information workshops in Tunis, gathering multiple stakeholders to strengthen the country’s efforts to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions. The discussions focused on reinforcing the active participation of different groups, including civil society actors and media professionals, in implementing the goals and principles of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
Conditions for artistic creation and innovation have become increasingly favorable in Tunisia in recent years. Fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and access to information, as well as women’s rights have been all included in the country’s most recent Constitution of 2014. Tunisia as a Party to the 2005 Convention since 2007 has recently submitted its second Quadrennial Periodic Report. The report maps the various policies and measures the country has taken in the past four years to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions with the aim of informing future policymaking.
Building on these recent efforts, UNESCO organized these workshops with the support of the 2005 Convention Expert Facility and in the framework of the larger project funded by the Swedish government, “Enhancing Fundamental Freedoms through the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions”. Various multistakeholder consultations and public debates have already been organized, running from July to December 2016. These new training activities highlighted more specifically the active role that all stakeholders, including government officials, civil society actors and media professionals, must play to ensure the successful implementation of the goals and principles of the 2005 Convention.
Engaging all stakeholders
The first workshop gathered different governmental officials and civil society representatives with the purpose of raising knowledge on the key concepts, goals and principles of the 2005 Convention. The discussion also provided an opportunity to strengthen policy dialogue between the government and civil society.
The second workshop brought together media professionals and journalists encouraging them to take part in the implementation of the 2005 Convention, which puts forward the critical role of media diversity - diversity of contents; diversity of media ownership (public, private, community, etc); editorial independence; diversity of access to information- in achieving sustainable development.
“Many journalists and professionals are not fully aware of their roles to promote and guarantee the diversity of cultural expressions. The workshop was an opportunity to also understand the obstacles and challenges in applying the principles of the 2005 Convention and encouraging a new diversity of voices in a new globalized environment,” said Naïma Abdallah, chief editor of the Tunisian national television.
The media are producers, distributors, diffusers and mediators of cultural expressions. Without media diversity and freedom of expression, diverse cultural expressions are unable to flourish. It is therefore essential that media professionals and journalists understand their key role and become engaged in the work of promoting the diversity of cultural expressions.
The last workshop gathered NGOs and government officials to provide them with practical information on the International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) to improve the quality of funding applications. The IFCD supports projects in developing countries that promote cultural and creative industries as a means to reduce poverty, build social ,inclusion and foster economic growth.