Governments long have intervened in culture, creating collections and
libraries, commissioning artworks and monuments, building cultural venues,
preserving heritage sites, developing and exporting distinctive cultural products, supporting or enforcing censorship and language regulations. However,
the notion that these sundry actions could be framed together and recognized as a coherent policy arena only developed as late as the 1960s. Government actions affecting culture were disparate, spread widely across multiple
agencies. Some relevant agencies, such as Departments of Education and
museums and libraries originally built as royal collections, had obvious ties to
culture. Others, such as Ministries of Information and diplomatic corps, less
so. The whole series of cultural actions governments around the world had
embarked on over the postwar period required an organizing and comparative framework. To understand this wide and expanding array of government
actions affecting culture as cultural policy meant building out that framework
with: a foundation in fundamental policy norms, the identification of a critical challenge to be addressed and a rationale for addressing that challenge, and
the articulation of a set of initial policy goals.
Norms are shared understandings and expectations. They help to establish a
foundation of authority in situations where sovereignty remains undefined
or where it is ambiguous or contested. The development and dissemination of norms is a fundamental role of global and international institutions.
Because those institutions are established by treaty and their jurisdiction is
limited by national sovereignty, their focus on shaping norms is paramount.
The first such formal institution was the League of Nations, established in
Geneva in 1918, immediately following the end of the First World War.
The League was founded to foster peace by creating an inter-government
institution dedicated to international cooperation and negotiation. To a certain extent, the new international order was put into place to enable the
Great Powers to exert their global influence more efficiently in that postwar
context. However, the League of Nations is viewed as a critical moment
2 What Is Cultural Policy?What Is Cultural Policy?What Is Cultural Policy?
Rosenstein, C. (2018). Understanding cultural policy. Taylor & Francis Group.
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What Is Cultural Policy? 49
in international relations because, with its inauguration, sovereign nations
agreed to the principle that they might balance their own immediate interests against a common, global interest in peacekeeping and peacemaking.
The League of Nations failed in its mission to ensure peace. In 1945,
immediately following the end of World War II, it was succeeded by the
United Nations. The UN took over the role of promoting and protecting peace and security internationally. It continues to focus on peace and
security, along with other global concerns such as human rights, hunger,
refugees, and development. In addition to its own work, the UN includes
a group of specialized agencies, independent organizations affiliated with the
UN, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World
Health Organization, the International Telecommunications Union, and the
World Tourism Organization. The UN also plays a pivotal role in coordinating global agencies and organizations. For example, the UN brings together
the heads of UN programs, UN specialized agencies, and other key global
agencies such as the World Trade Organization. It has headquarters in New
York City, Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi.
Among the UN’s earliest actions was the establishment of The Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which includes certain universal cultural
rights. The cultural aspects of human rights enumerated in Article 27 of The
Universal Declaration of Human Rights are:
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life
of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific
advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
These assertions elaborate how basic human rights to freedom, property, and
development are expressed along the cultural dimension.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was established in coordination with the founding of the
UN itself and was ratified by twenty signatories one year later, in November 1946. It is a specialized agency of the UN and the peak global cultural
policy agency. The organization grew out of wartime cooperation among
education leaders from European Allied countries, who were planning for
the postwar redevelopment of their national education systems. Among
UNESCO’s most influential early actions was a Recommendation supporting compulsory universal education (1948) and the adoption of the Universal Copyright Convention (1952). UNESCO is headquartered in Paris. It is
governed by a General Conference made up of representatives from its 195
Member States, an Executive Board of fifty-eight elected members, and a
Secretariat responsible for the day-to-day work of the agency. The General
Conference meets once every two years to establish the agency’s priorities,
Rosenstein, C. (2018). Understanding cultural policy. Taylor & Francis Group.
Created from cofc on 2021-12-13 02:19:56. Copyright © 2018. Taylor & Francis Group. All rights reserved.
50 What Is Cultural Policy?
program, and budget.