Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Launch of the Chirac Foundation

Former French president Jacques Chirac launched his Foundation on Monday, June 9, 2008, at Musée du quai Branly (at the Claude Levi-Strauss Theater) in Paris. The Chirac Foundation is dedicated to promoting peace. Its goal is to encourage cultural respect and diversity and to promote a truly sustainable model for development.

According to the press materials, the Chirac Foundation will focus its first efforts on

  • Access to water
  • Access to quality medication
  • The fight against deforestation and desertification
  • Protecting threatened languages and cultures
  • Identifying innovative funding methods

In a speech given during the launch of his Foundation, Chirac stated that “as it becomes necessary to rethink the notion of progress to reconcile man with his environment, we must place culture and cultural diversity at the heart of the human adventure.”

Pursuing the theme of protecting threatened languages and cultures, Chirac expressed his conviction that “all peoples have their own unique message to share with the world.” He believes that “each people can enrich humanity through the beauty, creativity, and truth it contributes. . . . To pay heed to cultural diversity is to value the uniqueness of all creativity, it is to desire discovery, to refuse a single standard that would create an exclusively rational and perfectly aseptic—in other words inhuman—world,” stated Chirac.

“Cultural impoverishment is generally followed by social degeneration,” he continued. “The fight for diversity is a fight for dignity and for peace. When a culture is denied the right to contribute to the greater whole, violence is never far behind.”

Chirac went on to explain that his Foundation would pay particular attention to languages and cultures threatened with extinction. In this regard he mentioned that of the 6,000-odd languages spoken in the world today, 90% could disappear during this century. Chirac pondered, “Is that what we want? Do we want an impoverished world, one that only preserves what is profitable in the short term?”

“Personally, I reject that idea,” stated Chirac. He also called upon the UN and UNESCO—who have declared 2008 “the International Year of Languages”—to hold a Summit on the topic, “to devise ways of avoiding the disappearance of humanity’s priceless common linguistic heritage.” According to Chirac, new technologies hold the solution. “Let’s use them,” he declared. “With the launch of this program and the international meetings that will be held right here this afternoon as a first step, this foundation intends to do its part.”

To find out more, read the full text of Mr. Chirac’s speech and consult the Foundation’s press materials.