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21 Jun 2013    Reports/ Presentations
Burri, Mira


The Trade versus Culture Discourse: Tracing its Evolution in Global Law

A paper presentation at the conference 'Culture and International Economic Law', organized by Valentina Vadi and Bruno de Witte at the University of Maastricht, 20-21 June 2013.


The intensified flows of goods, services, peoples and ideas across borders intrinsic to globalization have had numerous and multi-faceted effects. Those affecting culture have been perhaps the most controversial, as it is more often than not difficult to identify the spillovers across economic and non-economic areas and across borders, as it is equally hard to qualify the effects of these spillovers as positive or negative. The debate also tends to be politically and even emotionally charged, which has so far not proven advantageous to establishing a genuine dialogue, nor to finding solutions. This contention and the divergent interests of major players in the international community have been reflected in the institutions and rules of global law. It is the objective of this chapter to explore this institutional architecture, in particular its main (and opposing) constituent fora of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Educational Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The chapter traces the evolution of these institutions and their interaction over time, as well as the underlying objectives, demands and strategies of the key proponents in the trade versus culture discourse, which ultimately shaped the existent law and policy. The chapter concludes with an appraisal of the present state of affairs, taking into account the profoundly transformed media landscape, as well as the broader picture of global governance with new and emergent powers, proliferating non-state actors, and changing mechanisms of rule-making and taking.

The paper will become part of a book, co-edited by Vadi and de Witte, and under contract with Palgrave Macmillan.

presentation slides