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The First Seminar on Diversity of Cultural Expressions in Lao PDR


Lao PDR’s economy is known to be based mostly on agriculture and trade with neighbours. Cultural and creative industries only recently showed a definite potential to contribute to its economic development. In 2007, Lao PDR has expressed its intention to advance its creative industries by ratifying the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

With funding from the International Fund for Cultural Diversity and a contribution from UNESCO Bangkok, the Lao National Commission for UNESCO organized this first ever seminar on the 2005 Convention in Lao PDR. The event took place from 13 to 15 March 2012 in Vientiane.

The main objective of this event was to raise awareness, create a common understanding and open more channels for collaboration among leading governmental stakeholders. Twenty-one participants from twelve institutions, including several departments from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Ministry of Foreign Affairs took part in the workshop.

The seminar was opened by Professor Dr. Bosengkham Vongdara, Minister for Information, Culture and Tourism who highlighted the uniqueness of Lao cultural diversity. He encouraged private sectors to join the government’s efforts in strengthening the creative sector. Believing that involving artists and technicians and enhancing the use of modern technologies are crucial, Dr Vongdara defined the role of this seminar as a valuable chance to develop a master plan that encourages the whole society to contribute to better implementation of the Convention.

Given the diversity of themes and complexity of the 2005 Convention, this seminar provided opportunities for participants to familiarise with basic concepts leading to effective communication about the Convention to wide public. To boot, it gave floor for the dynamic exchanges to jointly identify avenues for future development and further collaboration.

According to the agreements in the Convention, State Parties are obliged to report on their activities related to the implementation of the Convention every four years. Lao PDR, being one of the earliest countries ratifying the Convention, will be in the first group of State Parties to complete the report. These reports will not only be an opportunity for countries to showcase their accomplishments, but will also help identifying outstanding examples of the Convention in actions. The seminar was the first time that Lao institutions brainstormed on the contents of this report together.

Without doubt, cultural industries cannot exist without artists. This workshop will be followed by a number of activities, including research and consultations to understand how current policy context have impacts on creators and how to foster an environmentally enabling creativity, allow a broader circulation of cultural products and ideas and support business entrepreneurs. There are currently few channels of communication between policy-makers and practitioners; subsequent activities will aim at increasing mutual understanding and interactions between these two groups.

The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, also known as the 2005 Convention, ensures artists, cultural professionals, practitioners and citizens worldwide can create, produce, disseminate and enjoy a broad range of cultural goods, services and activities, including their own. For more information about the Convention, please visit: