Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Le combat pour la diversité culturelle dans "la Francophonie aujourd’hui" : "un combat pour le pluralisme, pour la démocratie, pour la liberté"

M. Abdou Diouf, secrétaire général de l’Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF), Paris, le 23 janvier 2004 - 2004/01/23

During a conference held at the Institut d’études politiques (IEP) de Paris, Mr. Diouf touched on various dimensions of “la Francophonie of today,” including globalization and cultural diversity. In particular, Mr. Diouf stated that la Francophonie “is not opposed to the globalization that is currently underway,” but it is seeking an “organized globalization,” a “globalization tempered with a spirit of solidarity, with rules set forth by the international community, and balance among several bodies established according to regional, cultural, linguistic, economic and political bases.” What we don’t want, he emphasized, “is a world that is off-balance due to the existence of superpowers that steamroll other nations and gradually impose their way of speaking, thinking, and living. Global unity, yes, but in balance and diversity, not in uniformity.”

Concerning cultural diversity, Mr. Diouf stressed that the campaign for cultural diversity “is a campaign for pluralism, for democracy, for liberty.” He also stated, “We are not seeking a world of uniformity. We want a world of solidarity that is rich in its differences. A world in which cultural dialogue is possible (…).” And for this dialogue among cultures to exist and be fruitful, he maintained, “Many cultures, numerous cultures must be able to strongly exist and continue to live, create, and innovate.” For Mr. Diouf, cultural diversity has become “a central and political challenge.” “If cultural goods and services were to be subjected to market regulations without any protection, then cultural diversity, and at the same time, linguistic diversity, would be threatened. Development and the liberalization of international trade, coupled with the convergence of information and communication agencies have led to a concentration of cultural industries and the appearance of dominant companies. This evolution carries with it the threat of cultural uniformity and the marginalization of artists. It is therefore important to raise the awareness of nations. They should not be denied their ability to act with regards to cultural policies. They must be wary of any WTO liberalization agreement concerning cultural goods and services, due to the specific nature of the cultural sector. For that reason, the nations and governments of la Francophonie were the first to draw up and approve UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity of December 2, 2001, and to initiate the process of adopting a legally binding instrument to this end by 2005.” However, Mr. Diouf stressed that, today, an international convention is necessary but no longer sufficient. “It must help promote the creation of strong cultural industries and the support of artists by nations and local communities.” (Available in French only)