France ratifies convention; U.S. opposes

France has become the first member of United Nations cultural body UNESCO to ratify the Convention on Cultural Diversity — a principle that the U.S. fears will create more trade barriers to keep Hollywood at bay — following a unanimous vote in the Senate Wednesday.

The National Assembly, France’s lower house, approved the bill earlier this month.

France was the driving force behind the convention, adopted in October by 191 countries, the vast majority of member states in the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization, but opposed by the U.S. and Israel. Four countries abstained from the vote.

The convention states that countries have a responsibility to protect cultural diversity, a principle that France holds dear when it comes to its film and television industry.

Before it becomes a full-fledged international treaty, the convention must be ratified by at least 30 countries, a process that is expected to take at least two years.

In a statement Wednesday, France’s Coalition for Cultural Diversity, a group of arts and industry orgs, urged other countries to follow France’s example and ratify the convention quickly “to give it all its efficacy in international law.”

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