Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Diversité culturelle et Francophonie : "une Francophonie fortement impliquée dans le projet de Convention sur la diversité culturelle en préparation à l’UNESCO"

Première session plénière du Haut Conseil de la Francophonie - Paris, le mardi 20 janvier 2004 - 2004/01/20

The new High Council of La Francophonie met for the first time on January 19 and 20, 2004, in Paris. Made up of 37 members from French-speaking countries as well as Brazil, Italy, Japan, Portugal, and Russia, one of the High Council’s missions is to steer the strategic thinking of La Francophonie on French language and cultural diversity in the medium and long terms. Opening the High Council’s first session was Mr. Abdou Diouf, Secretary General of La Francophonie, who declared that “La Francophonie encourages individual linguistic and cultural groups to come together in a spirit of support and dialog” and pointed out that La Francophonie is “actively cooperating with Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic-speaking peoples as well as the Commonwealth on the major theme of cultural diversity.” Mr. Diouf maintained that “these partnerships are all the more important because we know very well that cultural diversity cannot be taken for granted.” According to Mr. Diouf, “there now exists a relatively broad consensus in the international community that cultural goods and services are unlike other commodities and should not be subject to the laws of the market economy without safeguards.” He also stressed that “the liberalization of international trade, together with the phenomena of concentration in the information and communication industries, has sparked the emergence of dominant businesses in this sector,” and “to this is added the course of multilateral trade negotiations, which has led to challenges of the ability of individual states to formulate and implement cultural development policies on the pretext that such policies could create barriers to trade.” In his opinion, “La Francophonie’s actions with regard to cultural diversity are exemplary,” yet he recognizes that “the coming battle will be difficult because the economic interests of certain large groups—defended by their countries of origin—preclude any form of regulation in the flow of their goods for whatever reason.” That is why, he maintains, “we must make sure that a maximum number of countries, especially those in the South, are persuaded of the appeal of having such a convention for the sake of their own development.” In this regard, Mr. Diouf invited the members of the High Council to gear up to guide members of La Francophonie in their quest, build an intellectual and conceptual framework that addresses the undercertainties of globalization and, on a political level, “forcefully convey our position” both domestically and in all forums available to them. In his closing speech, Mr. Diouf undertook, along with all the institutional stakeholders in La Francophonie, to study how cultural diversity could be implemented from the viewpoint of its relationship to culture, religion, and secularism in La Francophonie and in countries other than France; to work for its success; and to support and advance UNESCO’s work on the draft International Convention on Cultural Diversity. (Available in French only)