Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

"Marchandisation et diversité culturelle : la Francophonie à l'avant-garde de la lutte pour la culture"

Mme Louise Beaudoin, chercheure associée au Centre d’études internationales et mondialisation (CEIM) et professeure associée à l’Université du Québec à Montréal, le 16 mars 2004 - 2004/03/16

In this article, published in the March 16, 2004 edition of Le Devoir, Ms. Beaudoin, citing the Bulletin by the Coalitions for Cultural Diversity, maintains that in order “to achieve its ultimate objective of completely liberalizing the cultural sector—in other words, treating cultural goods and services on equal footing with the timber or automobile sector,” the United States is applying a clear strategy of multiple bilateral trade negotiations to bypass the international convention on cultural diversity that is being drafted. According to Ms. Beaudoin, the approach favoured by Americans regarding culture is that of the status quo. “In other words, American negotiators generally accept maintaining existing cultural policies, thus maintaining measures already in place but freezing them at their current level. This means that countries who conclude these types of agreements with the United States give up their ability to improve or reinforce their cultural support systems. The United States is thus directly challenging the first objective of a potential treaty, the rights of nations to freely determine, now and in the future, their own cultural policies.”

In this regard, Ms. Beaudoin stresses that la Francophonie “must continue to raise awareness, explain, and convince as many countries as possible.” “Member countries of la Francophonie first, so that they don’t forget that they drafted multiple reports and ratified numerous resolutions in which and through which they commit not to liberalize their cultural sectors, whether in a bilateral, regional, or multilateral framework. They must also remember that they decided to support the adoption of a legally binding treaty within UNESCO. Then the other countries, by providing them a firm argument in support of such a treaty.  …The only possible conclusion to this argument is that countries seeking to financially support their cultural sectors must have at an absolute right to do so.” For Quebec, as for many other countries who are also aware of the potential danger to their own cultures, “The outcome of this campaign,” stresses Ms. Beaudoin, is “existential.” “If we want to continue to live in French and arm ourselves with cultural policies allowing our literature, our songs, our television and our films to occupy a true space, both here and elsewhere, the Convention on Cultural Diversity must not only be implemented, it must be a legal tool with a universal normative value beyond trade agreements. Once we have accepted the principle of protecting cultural diversity, as the world seems to have done within UNESCO, the real and concrete challenge lies ahead.” (Available in French only)