Cultural diversity

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Convention sur la diversité des expressions culturelles : « Le Mexique rallie la France et se démarque des États-Unis »

Le Figaro Économie , édition du 22 novembre 2004 - 2004/11/22

In this article, Emmanuel Schwartzenberg reports that it is within the framework of the France-Mexico-Québec business mission in Mexico that the Prime Minister of France Mr Jean-Pierre Raffarin gave a legal basis to the defence of culture. France has just obtained Mexico's official rally as regards the defence of cultural diversity. This is a decisive step for the Hexagon since its commitment on the international scene to promote the development of its culture and that of other nations, insists Mr Schwartzenberg, who also affirms that on 18 November of this year, President of Mexico, Mr Vicente Fox, and the French Prime Minister signed a declaration on cultural diversity which goes much further on the legal level than whatever had been achieved to date. As the French Prime Minister wanted, it gives "legal status to cultural items for the first time". Mr Raffarin stressed as follows when he opened the Unifrance festival in Mexico: "It gives culture the strength to be heard and to enable humanity to triumph over inhumanity". In this statement, France and Mexico affirm "the right of States to draft and implement cultural policies and to support measures in favour of cultural diversity". They impose the "necessity of a legally binding convention and an appropriate articulation with other international instruments". This simple sentence, affirms the journalist, takes the future UNESCO convention for the defence of culture out of the political domain and places it into the legal domain. It implies specifying the scope of culture, establishing fraud and the ensuing legal consequences.

This Franco-Mexican declaration particularly foresees "the necessity of being able to have effective monitoring mechanisms and the necessity of being able to have dispute settlement mechanisms". The two countries are therefore no longer content with having international consciousness continue on the value of culture threatened by "an aggressive globalization" and are finding the means to defend it. "One must be as powerful through culture in the same way as others are powerful through strength", said Jean-Pierre Raffarin when he reiterated his intention to build up a coalition network towards creating a majority vote with UNESCO on the Convention on the Protection of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions inSeptember 2005 . As to whether or not this convention will be made subordinate to WTO rules, the journalist insists that this is not clearly brought up in the declaration, and will probably never be in the agreements that France and the European Union will certainly sign towards promoting the UNESCO treaty. In his opinion, everything is happening - which is the core of the document signed in Mexico - as if it was necessary to deliberately forget the WTO whose basis aims to liberalize the economy, in order to protect cultural items on the sidelines of this institution. And as the journalist emphasizes, the United States are hostile to any project, be it cultural, as soon as it restricts economic exchange. As in the case of the Kyoto Protocol, they could mobilize countries close to them in order to oppose the document. But they know that if they take the same approach for the UNESCO treaty, this will cause an unrivalled mobilization of the cultural world. (Available in French) [82]