Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

" It becomes urgent for the UNESCO Convention to come into effect in order to inscribe in international law the specific value of cultural goods and services " - 2006/09/15

"Cultural diversity : An emergency of our time"

The newspaper La Croix offers a special document to cultural diversity in its issue dated on September 15. The French Minister of Culture and Communication Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, in his article, declares that around the President of the French Republic and with the President of the European Commission, France mobilizes for the Member States and the European Union to be part of the first thirty members of UNESCO that will determine the orientation, the interpretation and the application of the Convention on the diversity of cultural expressions. To the minister, if ten or so States outside of European Union have already ratified this Convention, within the Union, France and Finland alone have already led conducted their ratification process according to their national law, as well as Spain, Autria and Sweden which have just completed theirs too, while Luxembourg and Malta are about to do so.

The minister asserts notably that « there is emergency in implementing this project eminently political in today's world ». In this respect, he declares : "In a world where every artistic expression must have freedom of a city, including, of course, the vast American culture , where 85 % of movie places are sold for movies produced in Hollywood, where 50 % of fictions shown on television in Europe come from America, where nine out of the ten most translated writers have English as their mother tongue, where 90 % out of the 6 000 languages listed by linguists are not represented on Internet, it becomes urgent for the UNESCO Convention to come into effect in order to inscribe in international law the specific value of cultural goods and services, which must not be submitted to market laws, as well as the sovereign right of States to take supporting measures for cultural activities".

"The action for the international cultural right"

According to Pierre Gueydier, responsible for cultural affairs at the Catholic University of Angers, if the adoption of the Convention has "allowed to lay this first stone of the international cultural right", "the benefits of this text still remain largely virtual since, to this day, it has been ratified by only a handful of States (.), while the number of thirty must be reached for the Convention come into effect". In his opinion, "one of the reasons is the constant opposition of the United States " who, after losing this fight of the adoption of the Convention during the last UNESCO General Conference on October 2005, "display bypass strategies. Thanks to the conclusion of bilateral trade agreements including the cultural sector, they are in a position to use blackmail on inferior countries in order for them to abandon their right to adopt policies protecting their national culture, especially in the cinema sector. Encouraged by the suspension at WTO of the Doha Round, they continue to negotiate at high speed such bilateral free trade agreements with at least fifteen or so countries".

"Internet, freedom under control"

In the same connexion, Louis Pouzin, projects d irector at Eurolinc ( Conférence Internet des langues européennes ), asserts that «the US meaning of culture is only a variety of merchandise. Therof the guerillas with some Europeans regarding cinema, radio or television. With Internet, the United States believe they hold the top trade weapon to spread their cultural commodity (.). The means of pressure from the super power allowing it to impose through its language a set of legal and commercial made to measure rules to ensure its supremacy : standards, certificates, personal data, security, contracts, finance ».

"Cultural diversity: The reality of the American patchwork"

On his part, James Cohen, professor at the University of Paris VII , concludes his article in this manner: "in spite of the cosmopolitan character of some large American cities and in spite of the ritual speech praising "diversity" (.), the real challenges of the cultural diversity remain to be taken in".

Read the entire document in La Croix , September 15th issue