The CDCE Agreement. A Symbolic Step Against the Cultural Media Imperialism of the West

Fighting Against Post-Colonial Media Hegemony

Essay, 2019

14 Pages, Grade: 1,3



Table of Contents


Main part of analysis
Underlying understanding behind the CDCE
Preferential treatment for developing countries
Effectiveness of global governance
Implementation of the CDCE in the European Union
How to improve the effectiveness of the CDCE?




In a globalized and interconnected world, diversity does not seem to be a new phenomenon. Nevertheless, if one has a closer look at cultural diversity, which should be spread all over the globe, one will recognize that our cultural heritage is deeply influenced by the western culture. Large parts of the population are often not presented in media due to a lack of editorial, managerial or gate keeping positions within media outlets.

According to Saouma and Raj Isar (2015), cultural diversity became a term “for resistances to Western cultural hegemony […] and for the cultural claims of discriminated groups everywhere” (p.62). To reconstruct the balance of cultural diversity, the UNESCO adopted a legally binding international instrument in 2005. This instrument is called the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CDCE) and was already ratified by 133 states. The Convention was developed in the context of the growing cultural sector and the imbalances because of huge media conglomerates ruling the cultural expressions of the whole world.

The existing gap in the trade agreements concerning a “cultural exception” (Hanania & Fabri, 2013, p.23) lead me to my thesis statement. It proves the role of the CDCE agreement as a symbolic but crucial step towards cultural diversity in the media sector and against the cultural media imperialism of the West.

For my analysis, I will choose a cultural approach. This approach is very convenient because the political and economic restrictions that were put in law by the CDCE agreement all affected cultural exchanges and supported cultural industries of developing countries.

Assisting the developing countries in building up their own media systems to promote cultural expression is an important mechanism of the agreement, which helps to reduce the cultural inequality (Troussard et al., 2012, p. 406).

Schorlemer (2012) reasons that the free and liberal market needs to be seen as the reason for poverty and unemployment and leads to an unequal distribution of cultural goods. To include an economic scope, the CDCE agreement is the first agreement, which considers the convergence of cultural and economic sectors (p.2). Moreover, Neuwirth (2015) is defining creative skills as “providing the main incentive for trade” (p.100), which refers to the deep connection between the promotion of cultural values and economic industries.

The influence of liberalistic structures on culture grew because of international trade agreements like the WTO or the GATT. Thus, the CDCE agreement is seen as a movement against these liberalistic structures and tends to provide restrictions for cultural industries.

Due to the restrictions that are set up to protect the cultural sector, debates about the limitation of the free flow of information increased. The former foreign minister Rice expressed her concern by saying that the Convention could be misused to justify a restriction of the free flow of information (Aylett, 2010, p.5).

The question if the resolutions of the CDCE are able to limit the free flow of information or if they are even an encouraging measure for a more diverse flow of information, is one of the topics that I will analyse in the following main part. In addition, I will look at the capacity of the CDCE agreement to establish media structures in the developing countries to provide an equivalent distribution of cultural products.

Further, it needs to be questioned if the format of an international governance is fitting for the aim of developing a culturally diverse world heritage. Alternatively, if an arrangement arising from multilateral negotiations lacks the legitimacy and authority for an effective implementation (Hanania & Vlassis, 2013, p. 35).

This analysis will be within the focus of the implementation of several measures by the European Union (EU), which were initiated in the frame of the CDCE to encourage the developing countries to spread their cultural values through the capacities of audiovisual media. The EU fits perfectly as an example since the European Union is set together by lots of nations with different cultural heritages and different cultural industries. This Union could be therefore seen as a small cutout of the diverse world population and the EU works in general as a leading force towards the implementation of the CDCE.

Main part of analysis

Underlying understanding behind the CDCE

With the ratification of the CDCE, the international community introduced a measure to anticipate from the predominant cultural hegemony. Therefore, the CDCE can be seen as a step against the cultural imperialism, which is often executed through the capacities of media.

The concept of media imperialism goes back to Feyes who already recognized this development in 1981 and addressed it to culture (Feyes, 1981, p.287). This mutual connection between the unequal spread of culture and the dissemination through media should be improved by implementing the agreement.

In addition to this, the Parties want to counterbalance the negative effects of the globalization and the unequal processes in technologies. Aware of the fact that the globalization has a growing impact on cultural heritage, beside the existing economic and political influence.

Another important success, which should be created through the ratification of the Convention, is the enrichment of the flow of information. For this purpose, the Parties built up a special focus for the developing countries by promoting a preferential treatment.

This idea can be tracked back to Thussu who predicted a strengthening of the developing countries and a counter flow of information (Thussu, 2000, p.185). He presumed that this happens due to the cultural hybridity, which was caused through massive waves of migration and now offers a market for the products of the South. Because of the globalization and the improvement of technologies, people with a different migration background have the possibility to consume their national media wherever they want to.

Preferential treatment for developing countries

According to Matsuura, the Director of the UNESCO, the CDCE is “UNESCO’s contribution to redefine the rules of globalization” (Schorlemer, 2012, p.1). With the Convention, culture is codified as an area of international law for the first time in history (Schorlemer, 2012, p. 15). Not only the legally binding role of the Convention needs to be emphasized but also the focus on developing countries and international cooperation.

Already in the first article of the Convention where it says that the aim is to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expression, the Convention takes a special focus on “enhancing the capacities of developing countries in order to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expression” (UNESCO, CDCE, 2005, p.11).

The importance of the international cooperation with developing countries is emphasized because the rights of such countries were often ignored in trade negotiations like the WTO (Hanania & Fabri, 2014, p.2). Therefore, the CDCE is going behind the underlying principles of trade treaties by enhancing cultural expressions through fiscal or technical measures.

With the ratification of Article 16, the countries of the West are requested to take up measures to improve the current situation. This situation is marked by a dominance of foreign products and dominant commercial groups, which makes it nearly impossible for the developing countries to create an own local production and contribution (Aylett, 2010, p.5).

For this purpose, Article 16 aims to strengthen the cultural industries by providing fiscal measures for a better creation, distribution and dissemination of cultural products. The International Fund of the Convention puts the financial aid into practice and consists of voluntary donations. Besides the fiscal aid, the Convention promotes the technological transfer of equipment and expertise to build up an own media industry in order to promote the national values. This also tightly torn together with fostering co-productions and capacity building through the exchange of information and cooperation (UNESCO, CDCE Operational Guidelines, 2005, p. 66).

Important to add is that the developing countries need to realize the given assistance by implementing it on a national level. The countries of the West simply offer an incentive with the financial or technical measures (Troussard, Panis- Cendrowicz, & Guerrier, 2012, p.434).

Burri concludes that for the Parties who already have structures, the Convention acted as kind of supplement of the already existing structures but not as a major policy shift. The low developed countries were able to develop active cultural policies and reached to strengthen their cultural sector (Burri, 2013, p. 13).

Effectiveness of global governance

In a convergent and interdependent world, the question of the necessity of global governance is a current and continuing one. The problem of global governance is the often-lacking authority and legitimacy, which leads to agreements or cooperation that are not robust enough to establish their aims (Hanania & Vlassis, 2013, p. 35).

This lack of binding restrictions is also a main problem of the CDCE. The Parties are free to decide what measures they take, if they donate something to the International Fund and how important they stress the topic of cultural diversity. After several years of its entry into force, the conclusion can be drawn that contributions to the fund have been modest and have come only from a few (Neil, 2012, p. 746). Due to formulations like ‘deem appropriate, may take and shall’, it is up to the nation states to decide about the further progress of the implementation and it seems not very likely that the UNESCO is able to set up binding rules in the future.

Global governance is always about finding compromises and if this step fails, it is even worse than having a cooperation on a voluntary base. To overcome cultural imperialism and the hegemony of the West, a deeper legitimacy in global governance is an important step to include the developing countries into the technological progress of the digitalisation (Scholte, 2011, p.3).

By offering a list of tools and measures (Article 12-18 of the CDCE), the UNESCO is giving a positive obligation to improve the situation in the developing countries. This should be realized through international cooperation and the raising of awareness for the importance of cultural diversity.

Implementation of the CDCE in the European Union

The EU has a leading role in the implementation of the CDCE, which is seen as the first comprehensive document concerning culture on a supranational level (Burri, 2010, p.10). After the ratification of the CDCE, the EU started to cooperate with the CARFIFORUM states to create a mutual and equal flow of audiovisual products. The preferential treatment also includes coproduction and tries to enlarge the cultural expression through the creation and distribution of media products (Souyri-Desrosier, 2013, p. 213).

Two years later the EU initiated a similar agreement with South Korea by integrating the aim of cultural promotion into the trade agreements between the two states. In this agreement, the reciprocity and the importance of international cultural cooperation were emphasized. The establishment of a Committee build-up of cultural experts should stress the convergence of trade and culture (Souyri-Desrosier, 2014, p. 213).

Those agreements are seen as an important step towards cultural diversity transmitted through media, but there are still lacks concerning the accessibility of the European markets. On top of this, it is important to enlarge the treaties to other media sectors to gain a broader spectrum of cultural expression (Hanania, 2012, p. 494).

Another critical aspect that needs to be improved is the top-down structure of the protocols, which hinders the effective implementation due to a missing consideration of the local structures (Vlassis, 2016, p.6).

In general, it can be said that the agreements work as an important first step to reach more equality of cultural expression and to get closer to the goal of the abolishment of the cultural imperialism (Burri, 2013, p. 11). Feyes criticized cultural dependency already in 1981 and therefore taking these first steps, works as a symbolic alienation of the inequalities caused by the cultural imperialism.


Excerpt out of 14 pages


The CDCE Agreement. A Symbolic Step Against the Cultural Media Imperialism of the West
Fighting Against Post-Colonial Media Hegemony
University of Tubingen
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
cdce, post-colonial, fighting, west, imperialism, media, cultural, against, step, symbolic, agreement, hegemony
Quote paper
Anonymous, 2019, The CDCE Agreement. A Symbolic Step Against the Cultural Media Imperialism of the West, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: The CDCE Agreement. A Symbolic Step Against the Cultural Media Imperialism of the West

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free