Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF), Paris, le 4 juillet 2005 – 2005/07/04
Parliamentarians gathered at the 21st session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie (PAF) from July 4 to 9, 2005 in Brussels to debate the theme “the contribution of the Francophonie to cultural diversity in the globalization movement.” The session was attended by IOF president Abdou Diouf and 200 parliamentarians—including 25 assembly presidents and vice presidents—from 45 parliaments. A Quai d'Orsay press release reported that France’s minister for cooperation, development, and the Francophonie, Brigitte Girardin, delivered a speech at the session on the strengthening of cultural diversity and the place of French in European institutions. The press released emphasized that France has consistently fought at the international level for recognition of the distinctive nature of cultural goods and services, a cornerstone of the recognition of cultural diversity.
A press kit put together by PAF declares that in the “combat for cultural diversity […] the Francophonie, a laboratory for cultural diversity due to its vocation and its geographical and economic makeup, has drawn on its specific development-related expertise to structure and reinforce its initiatives in favor of cultural diversity.” It has made the defense of cultural diversity a priority, recommending that the IOF Summit of Heads of State and Government “approve the principle of an international convention on cultural diversity under the auspices of a body specifically mandated to promote culture.” PAF urged IOF heads of state and government to “exercise utmost vigilance to ensure that all member states preserve the right to conserve and develop their own cultural policies, including the right to implement measures to support the cultural sector, including the audiovisual, film, and publishing industries.” PAF had adopted a previous resolution at the 2003 Charlottetown Session (Prince Edward Island) urging member states and governments of the Francophonie to refrain from making any WTO commitments to liberalizing trade in cultural goods and services and to honor the resolution in their bilateral and regional trade agreements. It also invited member states and governments to notify parliamentarians and the PAF about trade negotiations affecting cultural products and called upon IOF to pursue cooperation and maintain lines of communication with PAF so as to maximize the impact of Francophone mobilization in defense of cultural diversity.
To this effect, PAF is committed to promoting a strong convention that clearly asserts the right of states to implement cultural policy, rather than a document that is purely declaratory. The Brussels session was the occasion to clearly reaffirm this aim. It is “through such an instrument that the Francophonie will be able to continue supporting francophone cultural production—particularly the extremely rich and diverse production of the South—as a source of mutual enrichment, rapprochement between peoples, peace, and sustainable development.” According to PAF, “the diversity of this cultural creation, one of the cornerstones of the Francophonie, is a public good that should be promoted in this era of globalization and standardization. It is simply a matter of acknowledging the right of all states, Northern or Southern, to promote the performing arts, audiovisual productions, cultural enterprises, and the circulation of artists and their works.” PAF stresses that “defending cultural diversity is a way to combat a purely industrial conception of culture by taking into account its global and strategic dimensions: This is what affords it a political dimension, making it something on which all parliamentarians from the global francophone community are determined to have their say.”
Drawing attention to the huge cultural, economic, and political implications, PAF also points out that “certain bilateral agreements as well as international talks on trade in services—particularly the WTO Doha and Hong Kong rounds—are likely to jeopardize the capacity of governments to intervene in matters of culture. The United States, to name but one, has signed several free trade agreements that compromise the ability of governments to adopt measures in support of their national cultural policies and industries.” [05-22]