Cultural diversity highlighted in UN World Book and Copyright Day

23 April 2007 –

Libraries, schools, cultural centres, authors’ organizations and publishers in more than 100 nations around the world are holding events today to mark the 12th World Book and Copyright Day, which the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched to pay tribute to the role of books in modern life.

This year’s Day is focusing on the impact that books – especially when they are copyrighted – play in promoting not only education, economics, cultural creation and democratic participation, but freedom of expression and cultural diversity as well.

In a message on the Day, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said that copyright provides valuable “moral and heritage protection” to works and their authors and is particularly vital to encouraging cultural diversity.

“Such action, which has an ethical as much as a political dimension, is part of a long-term approach and requires specific and lasting measures for the promotion of books and reading, whose impact will extend far beyond the symbolic date of 23 April,” Mr. Matsuura said.

UNESCO chose 23 April to celebrate World Book and Copyright Day as it also marks the day on 1616 that Britain’s William Shakespeare, Spain’s Miguel de Cervantes and the Peruvian writer “El Inca” Garcilaso de la Vega all died. The prominent writers Vladimir Nabokov, Halldór Laxness, Josep Pla, Maurice Druon and Manuel Mejía Vallejo were also either born or died on this day.

The Colombian capital, Bogotá, was designated this year’s World Book Capital, the seventh city to hold the honour, while Amsterdam in the Netherlands will be next year’s title-holder. The World Book Capital is chosen by a selection committee comprising representatives of UNESCO, the International Publishers Association, the International Booksellers Federation and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.

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