Cultural diversity

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Abdou Diouf, secretary general of La Francophonie, speaks at the 13th International Economic Forum of the Americas, Montréal, Canada

The 13th International Economic Forum of the Americas was held June 18 to 21, 2007, in Montréal, Canada. Mr. Abdou Diouf, secretary general of La Francophonie, was among the guest speakers. In his address, Mr. Diouf asserted that the cultural dimension of globalization “is closely tied […] to the political and economic issues that concern you, and especially an integral part of the solidarity we must more than ever reaffirm and organize, of the new balance we must instill.”

After presenting his vision of globalization, the hope it elicits, and related realities and issues, Mr. Diouf stated, “We are clearly at the heart of world governance issues: maintaining control of globalization and thereby ensuring democracy on a global scale backed by all and focused on the essential while remaining mindful of differences.” He went on to discuss his view of the role of culture in this process, asserting that “Our ability to contain the fervor that identity can stoke and prevent the collision of world views will therefore depend largely on our desire to preserve the integrity and plurality of cultures, to create balanced relations among them. This brings us up against the difficult dialectic of identity and otherness, the universality of law, and the particulars of cultural rights. We must convince ourselves that universality is not uniformity!”

According to Mr. Diouf, this means we must face “the need to manage pluralism in an open democracy that brings together all political, economic, social, and cultural players. […] The adoption and coming into effect of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions were a major step forward. Diversity is now enshrined as a principle of international law.” However, Mr. Diouf stressed that having standards-based instruments is not enough. In this regard, he stated, “We must now move from legitimately claiming the right to cultural diversity to rooting a culture of diversity. And this is precisely the focus of La Francophonie.”

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