The Protection and Promotion of Cultural Diversity in a Digital Networked Environment : Mapping Possible Advances to Coherence

Burri, Mira; Graber, Beat Christoph; Steiner, Thomas (2011). The Protection and Promotion of Cultural Diversity in a Digital Networked Environment : Mapping Possible Advances to Coherence. In: Delimatsis, Panagiotis; Cottier, Thomas (eds.) The prospects of international trade regulation (pp. 359-393). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

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The present paper is the result of a four-year-long project examining the concept and the policies of cultural diversity and the impact of digital media upon the regulatory environment where the goal of cultural diversity is to be achieved. The focus of the project was primarily on the international level and in particular on the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which also epitomise the often framed as opposing pair of trade and culture. In the broad context of the project, we sought to pinpoint the essential elements of an international trade-and-culture conducive framework that can also overcome the existing fragmentation in the field of international law and move towards more coherent solutions. In a narrower context, we sketched some possible improvements to the WTO law that can make it more suitable to the digital networked environment and to the objective of diverse media that some states aspire.
Our key messages are: (1) Neither the WTO nor UNESCO currently offers appropriate solutions to the trade and culture predicament and allows for efficient protection and promotion of cultural diversity; (2) The trade and culture discourse is overly politicised and due to the related path dependencies, a number of feasible solutions appears presently blocked; (3) The digital networked environment has profoundly changed the ways cultural content is created, distributed, accessed and consumed, and may thus offer good reasons to reassess and readjust the present models of governance; (4) Access to information appears to be the most appropriate focus of the discussions with view to protecting and promoting cultural diversity in the new digital media setting, both in local and global contexts; (5) This new focal point demands also broadening and interconnecting the policy discussions, which should go beyond the narrow scope of audiovisual media services, but cautiously account for the developments at the network and applications levels, as well as in other domains, such as most notably intellectual property rights protection; (6) There are various ways in which the WTO can be made more conducive to cultural policy considerations and these include, among others, improved and updated services classifications; enhanced legal certainty with regard to digitally transferred goods and services; incorporation of rules on subsidies for services and on competition.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


02 Faculty of Law > Department of Economic Law > World Trade Institute
10 Strategic Research Centers > World Trade Institute

02 Faculty of Law > Department of Economic Law > NCCR International Trade Regulation
02 Faculty of Law > Department of Economic Law > Institute of European and International Economic Law

UniBE Contributor:

Burri, Mira


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 340 Law




Cambridge University Press




Tihomira Burri

Date Deposited:

09 Sep 2014 16:29

Last Modified:

31 May 2017 10:45




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