The advent of the information
society to which we devote this summit is, for our planet, a crucial moment. In
order to assess its implications, it is important to put it in its proper
It is the third stage of a long
evolution inaugurated some 10 millennia ago in the plains of the Middle East.
There, the agricultural revolution, in converting hunter-gatherers into
cultivators, founded our civilization. Resting on the labor of men – “you shall
earn your bread by the sweat of your brow” – the rural economy it established
led to the imperial and feudal order that governed most of the world known at
that time until the industrial revolution. Its other corollaries were alas
slavery then serfdom.
In mastering new energies, the
industrial revolution of the XVIII century transformed work through machines:
no longer synonymous with physical labor, it ceased being a curse and for the
first time, humanity knew abundance. It consequently discovered freedom. Over
the ruins of dead empires, the industrial nations learned democracy which was
consolidated when the injustices inherent in the excesses of liberalism were
rectified with the advent of social democracy.
Founded on a more equitable
distribution of prosperity within the industrial nations, this order remained
the sole prerogative of these nations. The rest of the world was unfortunately
excluded. Without going as far as saying that the wealth of some is the result
of the poverty of others and that the development of the so-called North is
historically the outcome of the exploitation of the South, let us acknowledge
that the latter was long deprived of the benefits of the industrial revolution.
The new information technology
which allows the dematerialization and the delocalization of the economic
activity ensures today a better future for the so far underprivileged peoples.
However, a deep gap still opposes the world of the rich to the world in which
more than one billion human beings live on one dollar a day, drink undrinkable
water and have no access to the modern means of communication.
The digital production and
communication techniques are neutral per se. They can liberate from
underdevelopment regions still kept off progress. They also have the ability to
exponentially increase the advance of the most powerful and aggravate the
despair of the most deprived.
Left only to the laws of the
market, globalization can only yield more inequalities and deepen the economic
and social imbalances with each passing day. On the cultural level, it can be
synonymous with standardization to the benefit of a dominant pattern and
laminate other cultures whose diversity nevertheless enriches the world.
The Nation-State rectified in times
past the abuses of unbridled liberalism through economic and social reformism,
thus reconciling private initiative and a democratic direction of society. This
synthesis was possible under the aegis of the state as it took place in a
historical context where the economic and political spaces coincided.
This time is to a large extent
bygone. If the laws of the market could be, within the national framework,
controlled and humanized, it’s because there was therein a political authority
with the power to do it. In the actual world frame where information techniques
have projected us, this authority is still uncertain and no power, no matter
how great, would be able to unilaterally replace it.
This rejection of unilateralism is
a permanent feature of my country’s policy. It dictates our attachment to the
United Nations Organization and I would like here to congratulate its Secretary
General, Mr. Kofi Annan, for the organization of this summit.
We are in this respect in full
harmony with the International Francophone Organization, which I presently have
the honor of presiding and I seize this opportunity to salute its Secretary
General, President Abdou Diouf. I would like to recall here the resolutions of
the Francophone Ministerial Conference on the Information Society, held in
Rabat last September. Inspired by a pluralist conception of information and
reasserting the necessity of cultural and linguistic diversity, these
resolutions constitute a precious contribution to the works of our summit.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Lebanese population is
characterized by a high level of education and multilingualism linked to our
geographical location as well as to the structure of our economy where services
and exchange are predominant. Thus, it is naturally predisposed to
information-related activities. A large number of our enterprises is devoted to
them. Some even act in partnership with prominent international groups.
These enterprises animate large
sectors – banks, insurance, trade, tourism, transportation, communication –
which are traditionally characterized in Lebanon by dynamism and efficiency.
Convinced of the necessity of
putting the public sector in line with the private one, the Lebanese State
launched an administrative reform with computerization as its cornerstone,
which is a necessary condition for good governance and modernity.
These can only be established in a
context of peace, of which Lebanon and the whole region have alas been deprived
The principles of this peace,
recalled during the Arab Summit held in Beirut in March 2002, are clear as to
the Arab-Israeli conflict: an Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied
territories up to the line of June 4, 1967 as well as the remaining occupied
territories in the south of Lebanon; Israel’s acceptance of a sovereign and
independent Palestinian State on the Palestinian territories occupied since the
4th of June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza strip with East Jerusalem
as its capital in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1397; a just and
negotiated solution to the Palestinian Refugee problem in accordance with
United Nations Resolution 194 and the rejection of Palestinian patriation in
I insist on the rejection of the
patriation of the Palestinians in Lebanon. A blatant violation of international
law, it would entail the renunciation by them of their homeland, and the
liquidation of any hope for a durable peace in the Middle East. Gravely
destabilizing the delicate economic and demographic balance of my country, it
would contravene our constitution as amended by the Taef Accord concuded in
1989 with the endorsement of the United Nations and the great powers, notably
the United States.
As to the Iraqi crisis, events
emphatically prove that it won’t find a solution until this country’s
sovereignty is restored in accordance with international law and the
reestablishment of the United Nations’ competence.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Democracy, good governance and
modernity cannot be imported and even less imposed from the outside. They can
only be the outcome of the free will of people liberated from fear, war and