Initially created in 1997 to oppose the OECD’s Multilateral Agreement on Investment (M.A.I.), the French Coalition for Cultural Diversity – previously known as the « Comité de vigilance pour la diversité culturelle » – federates professional cultural organisations (cinema, television, performing arts, music, graphic arts, multimedia) and defends cultural diversity endangered by international trade.
The Coalition coordinates the objectives which the professional organisations wish to defend with French, European and international authorities:
- defend the liberty of expression and creation in a social and economic environment favourable to the emergence of creative talents and the expression of diversity of creation in all forms,
- defend the capacity of states and state groups to set up, develop and adapt their cultural policies in every sector,
- keep culture outside the scope of international trade agreements and trade liberalising commitments within the WTO framework,
- develop international legal standards outside the WTO framework to encourage cultural diversity and pluralism.
The French Coalition is a founding member of the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (IFCCD) created in September 2007. It also is the Federation’s permanent representative to UNESCO in Paris. The IFCCD presently counts 42 Coalitions from all continents representing over 600 professional cultural organisations.
Together with other Coalitions in the world, the French Coalition has played a major role in the various stages leading to the drafting and the adoption on October 20, 2005 of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and, later, in the ratification process which led to its coming into force on March 18, 2007.
In particular, the French Coalition has organised several conferences and events in order:
- to draw the attention of professional cultural organisations in many countries on the issues at stake for cultural diversity and on the necessity to encourage their respective governments to support the drafting and then the ratification of the Convention. The Second International meetings of cultural professional organisations (Paris, February 2-4, 2003) gathered 350 participants representing over 130 cultural professional organisations from 32 countries.
- to convince the UNESCO Ambassadors to support the drafting, the adoption and the ratification of an international convention on cultural diversity: conferences at UNESCO (Sept. 2003 and 2004) ; film preview organised on the occasion of the first Conference of Parties (June 2007).
Now that the Convention has come into force, the Coalition pursues its actions in order:
- to mobilize cultural professionals throughout the world and to promote an extensive ratification of the Convention by as many countries as possible in all geographical areas;
- to prevent the cultural sector from being utilised as a trade off in bilateral, regional or multilateral trade negotiations. For example, the French coalition is highly mobilized on the issue of Cultural Cooperation Protocols (CCP) as included in bilateral trade negotiations conducted by the European commission;
- as the IFCCD’s representative at UNESCO, to fully participate in the implementation of the Convention.
At the same time, the French coalition coordinates the activities of the European coalitions for cultural diversity which aim to mobilise European professional organisations and to make European authorities aware of the interest of cultural professionals when treating issues within European competence which impact on culture, particularly trade negotiations.