With Enemies Who Do not Respect Our Values, Should We not Forego Our Principles ?
With Enemies Who Do not Respect Our Values, Should We not
Forego Our Principles ?
Speech by M. Dominique de Villepin, French Minister
of the Interior, Internal Security and Local Freedoms, to the Gray's Inn.
London, October 27, 2004.
Source: French Embassy, London.
It is a great pleasure for me to address your prestigious assembly today. It is
a huge honour and I must confess: it is a huge surprise. To what do I owe this
distinction? To the fact that I am a Frenchman? Or is it because I wrote a book
on Napoleon? Maybe simply because, like you, I strive to be an advocate for
You embody the British legal tradition serving justice and
the common good. You are the guarantors of the rule of law and, therefore, of
respect for democracy.
Even though the French are renowned for their Cartesian
approach, I would like to begin with a paradox: never have democratic values
been so widespread and never have they been so threatened by doubt.
Today, the number of democratic States is indeed continually
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, no big bloc any longer
disputes or challenges the superiority of the democratic model. There used to be
two choices, two types of social organization; only one is left.
From the Middle East to Latin America and throughout Africa,
democratic ideals are increasingly becoming the obvious choice for all peoples.
Everybody knows today that democracy is a value and an opportunity.
But democracy seems confronted by a crisis of confidence
within the very countries where it originated.
Faced with the new threats of terrorism, cybercrime and
proliferation, some doubt the capacity of democratic regimes to cope. To
guarantee our security, confronted by enemies who do not respect our values,
should we not, for a while, forego our principles?
Furthermore, democracies do not seem to want to defend
strongly enough the ideals of justice and freedom underpinning them. We are
witnessing, some of us with anxiety, an indifference of citizens that
Tocqueville had already diagnosed as the main danger for democracy.
Faced with this crisis, France and the United Kingdom have a
specific responsibility: both our countries have pioneered democracy. The United
Kingdom, with the Magna Carta which dates from the thirteenth century. And
France, which has drawn on the philosophy of the Age of Enlightenment for its
ideals of 1789.
Both our countries have always known how to overcome the
ordeals which are the natural lot of democracies; it was Churchill who steered
this country – with blood, sweat and tears – towards victory and independence.
It was de Gaulle who asserted the legitimacy of the Republic against the
legality of a regime which had betrayed its own origins.
Today, both our countries must find the right balance between
the citizens’ legitimate longing for security and the defence of civil liberties.
What both our countries must do is to define the means towards a truly
From the outset, both our democracies have faced this
fundamental tension; how can we guarantee the freedom of individuals while
imposing upon them the necessary constraints of society?
This issue pervades the Habeas Corpus of 1679, which asserts
the need to protect citizens’ rights against any arbitrary power. It is to be
found ten years on, in your Bill of Rights which lists the basic individual
Hobbes and Locke went even further: Hobbes asserted that it
was necessary to entrust the State with the sole power of legitimate violence,
so as to guarantee the safety of citizens: thus, the State asserts itself as a
bulwark against barbarism. Locke, for his part, asserted that the ultimate
objective of political society, formed by common assent, was to safeguard its
Following upon these precepts, Rousseau sketched, in "Le
Contrat social", the right balance between individual freedom and the general
will. Freedom and private property were won after a protracted struggle against
absolute power. They became constitutional rights, for each and everyone,
protected by laws, while the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
on 26 August 1789 established personal safety as a natural and inalienable right
These principles today still inspire our western democracies:
"there is no freedom without law, or when somebody is above the law". Like
surveyors, democratic governments must ensure order, as this is the guarantee of
As soon as they stray from either of these imperatives of
safety and freedom, democracies are fragile.
We saw this in the troubled Europe of the 'thirties: let us
remember the tragic failure of the Weimar Republic and the second Spanish
Republic. These regimes did not know how to respond to a rise of political
We see it in Afghanistan where democracy needs stability so
as to take root. This is the reason why the priority for the international
community, as early as October 2001, was to ensure internal security there. The
elections held this month offer a ray of hope in that war-torn country.
Lastly, we are seeing this in Iraq, where democracy finds it
hard to assert itself when it is imposed by force and from outside.
There as well as here, democracy is never secured for good.
It requires the constant struggle of women and men who believe in it.
The 9/11 attacks have ushered in an era of fear in our
countries. And everybody knows that fear is democracy’s worst enemy. It leads to
nations turning in on themselves and rejecting others. The surge of extremist
movements in many European countries bears testimony to this.
It strengthens a feeling that the public authorities are
powerless and that the citizens are left to fend for themselves. In a universe
which moves at the instantaneous pace of the world media and of images, it
contributes to hasty judgements which breed disorder and hatred.
The threats we are all confronted by cannot but fuel this
feeling of fear. Indeed, they follow radically new rules. They are changing:
they use state-of-the-art technologies, from satellite communications to the
most sophisticated financial techniques. They are interconnected: money
laundering facilitates drug trafficking which feeds the underground economy.
Terrorist groups may try to take advantage of the proliferation of weapons of
mass destruction: couldn’t they be striving to possess biological, chemical or
radiological weapons so as to create fear and ever more destruction?
Threats are more and more violent. Obviously, this is the
case for terrorism: from 11 September to 11 March, Western societies learned
that the worst is always possible and that terrorists will never hesitate to
destroy more, to wound more. But global violence also feeds day-to-day violence
and aggressive behaviour, which undermines the very fabric of our societies. New
forms of crime are soaring, such as car-jacking, and break-ins when householders
are present, which especially traumatize victims.
Lastly, increasingly, these threats are difficult to localize
and, therefore, appear all the more threatening: how can we accurately measure
the NRBC risk in a specific place? How can we reliably assess the extent of
transnational criminal activity ?
Overall, we knew of specific, local and temporary threats. We
now feel a general, global and continuous threat. Faced with this new reality,
our fellow citizens' expectations are high. They require from governments a keen
sense of their responsibilities and the ability to strengthen security measures
without undermining individual freedoms.
Let our two countries be in the forefront of the battle
against all forms of crime and threats. My friend David Blunkett and I have
already shared our views on this key issue and agreed for the most part. Let us
adapt to the world as it evolves.
We need ever more targeted and ever more strategic
intelligence. To address this requirement, I have given our security forces
strengthened technological resources for phone-tapping and in the field of
cryptology. I have also intensified overall coordination between intelligence
services, creating an Interministerial Intelligence Committee. We have two
agencies gathering intelligence at home, a bit like your Special Branch and MI5,
and I have made sure they work better together. That’s also where international
cooperation can make a strong contribution, especially through the bilateral
information exchanges which are so fruitful between our two countries.
Beyond better use of intelligence, we must block the spread
of radical Islamism. It is used as a breeding ground for terrorism. It is a
threat to our societies’ cohesion. This requires legal powers to allow the
expulsion from France of all those who call for hatred and violence, without
making any distinction as to what form of hatred they preach. For example, as
soon as I entered the Interior Ministry, I realized that the Order of 1945
allowed the expulsion of foreigners who make racist or anti-Semitic statements,
but not those who preach the need to beat women. This situation was both
inconsistent and dangerous for the citizens of France. A foreigner calling for
violence against a specific religious community has no place in France. Nor does
an individual who advocates punishments such as stoning. So I backed the
equivalent in France of a Private Member's Bill that modified this Order.
Organized crime networks operate in our countries with more
and more violent methods and increasingly-developed financial, human and
material resources. They destabilize entire areas through the underground
I decided to attack these groups from many different angles,
with police as well as financial and tax operations. The creation, by the
President of the Republic, of Regional Intervention Groups enables the pooling
of what were, until then, separate approaches against the underground economy:
today, security forces, judicial, tax and customs agents are cooperating within
the 29 Intervention Groups.
I have also established an asset forfeiture unit, in which
Interior, Justice and Finance Ministry services will be able to find the
possessions of traffickers, both in France and abroad, to make it easier to
seize them: our purpose is to asphyxiate these criminal networks by depriving
them of their resources.
Furthermore, an Act adopted in January this year gives
increased legal powers to police services involved in the fight against this
sort of crime. In order to facilitate interviews, police custody can now be
extended to 96 hours. Police forces are now also allowed to do night searches.
In France, there are now 25 million net surfers, who enjoy
the exceptional freedom that the Internet provides, but who are also exposed to
many attacks. Attacks against their goods, through swindles and credit-card
fraud, which have risen by more than 30%. Attacks against companies and public
services. Attacks against our most basic values: 464 cases of child pornography
were recorded in 2003, 156 race hate crimes.
Faced with this fast-developing trend, I wanted to rethink
our methods. We need an accurate picture of cybercrime in order to target our
operations more precisely. Furthermore, better training for our police forces
and the creation of two sections tasked specifically with detecting illicit
content will satisfy this imperative. Finally, we have set up a network of
experts, drawing on university specialists and research centres, to stay one
step ahead of the criminals in the field of technology.
At national level, the plan for secure electronic ID cards
will make life easier for everyone and enhance the security of documents such as
passports, birth certificates, etc. The introduction of biodata, such as facial
recognition and fingerprints on passports, ID cards and visas, will curtail
document forgery. It will also help identify individuals through the use of
digital analysis techniques by cameras, scanners and mini computers.
In this field, our two countries are usefully pooling their efforts. We are
promoting exchanges between technical and scientific police services, which have
a lot to learn from each other. On 30 June, we hosted a first meeting and
identified ways forward. For example, the Special Branch of the Metropolitan
Police wishes to expand the use of all the available scientific and technical
resources in the fight against terrorism and to create a new synergy between
databases. I welcome its proposal to exchange and match these data against
information held by the Directorate General of the French national police.
This battle against crime is important.
Yet, and this is the main point I want to make tonight, this
necessity for an efficient fight against crime must not lead us to forget the
fundamental rules of democratic life. More than ever, we must respect our
values. When confronted with barbarism, dictatorship or violence, democracy is
strong because it refuses to use the same tools as the opponent. It is strong
because it has in-built checks to ensure its decisions are regularly reviewed.
It is strong because it respects self-imposed rules:
-- A rule of transparency: the citizens must be able to monitor the progress of
the fight against crime through regular, unbiased information. In France, we
have two tools at our disposal for this: first of all, the 4001 statistical
statement, which gives the Interior Ministry figures for reported crime and
police activity; then, there is the crime watchdog, an independent body whose
aim is to deliver a thorough long-term analysis of crime. We need unrestrained
and public access to this data because it is important for bolstering the
general public's faith in government action: the fight against insecurity must
be everyone’s fight.
-- A rule of clarity: where the fight against terrorism is
concerned, the public authorities must give the general public a truthful
assessment of the threat level, and inform them of the measures taken and what
is expected of them. This is why I have chosen to create a national database on
terrorism, with public access and monitored by an independent expert. It will
avoid both the manipulation and withholding of information. It will also allow
the media to convey truthful information and the evaluation of public policies.
-- A rule of control: the government must ensure the
existence at all times of authorities capable of evaluating the means deployed
to ensure security and their impact on personal freedoms. It is a job for
freely-constituted associations of citizens, professional organizations and
trade unions. They can evaluate and judge the measures taken to fight insecurity,
be it in the workplace, at school, in the street or in public institutions. They
can also expose any negative and intolerable restrictive effects of these
measures on personal freedoms. Independent watchdogs, whose missions and terms
of reference are laid down by law, can also contribute: my ministry is thus
cooperating closely with the National Commission for Computer Science and
Liberties. This authority issues mandatory opinions on sensitive matters, as it
has done recently for the establishment of a new judicial police database and
the national database of genetic prints. Not only does it ensure close and
permanent monitoring of the way these new systems are used, it also monitors how
long the data is kept and how it is updated, as well as the clearance criteria
for the personnel allowed to see the data, and access rights for the individuals
Let me stress this again, efficiency ensures the necessary
respect of our core values: we will not tolerate databases created to address
protective and security issues being used for other purposes. I will see to it
that this principle is strictly respected.
At the heart of this new system, we must therefore rely on
the courts to exercise the necessary control on government decisions and acts,
and to make sure that these respect basic human rights. This is an essential
part of the right balance which we strive to find.
It is a necessity for States individually: where deportations
are concerned, for instance, judges must be able to assess independently, and
with full knowledge of the facts, if it is or isn't necessary to deport a
It is also a European reality, thanks to the European Court
of Human Rights in Strasbourg, based on the 1950 European Convention. In France,
just as in the United Kingdom, national law has evolved in line with European
case law. It is an asset both for us and for Europe.
Respect for the rules, the role of the courts, restoring the
authority of governments –these are the pillars on which to go on building and
strengthening our democracies. To cast aside our fundamental principles would be
to betray the ideal that has guided us for so long, whether in France or in
How could we look other peoples in the eye if we didn't respect the democratic
principles that we wish to see upheld everywhere?
Would our democratic systems have any legitimacy left if we
challenged the most fundamental rights of our citizens under the pretext of
guaranteeing their security?
By doing this would we not simply be giving criminals an
Let's look our world straight in the face:
It is teeming with innovations and new opportunities. Access to knowledge is
easier. Information is therefore open to all. More and more, we are living at
the same, incessant, collective pace. But this growing interconnection between
the world of people and ideas, on the one hand, and the world of goods and
services, on the other, can be a source of weakness. Many believe they live in a
world which is both more complex and yet more vulnerable, more knowledgeable and
yet more fragile. Modernity seems to move forward without giving itself the
tools to control the consequences of its creations.
So we need organization for our collective security. We need
to work on a different, an international scale in order to address the new
threats. We must give ourselves the means to work together. It's all the more
true as the increasing imbalance between countries creates even more movements
of people and goods: migratory flows from southern countries to northern
countries are getting more and more difficult to control. Drug trafficking is
expanding from countries like Afghanistan, where the profit from heroin could
account for 50% of GNP. Organized crime routes link European countries to nearby
regions like the Balkans.
We are confronted by many of these issues not only at the
national level but at the European level. Therefore, the drafting of common
strategies must be part of our response. This requires a degree of
approximation, for example to ensure interoperability or greater dialogue
between courts of different countries. It also requires the strengthening of
common instruments, such as Europol and Eurojust. Let’s be pragmatic, but
pragmatism must not be an excuse for minimalist action in this key area. What is
at stake here is not ideological battles but the security and basic freedoms of
The original aspect of building Europe is, precisely, to
start from the needs of citizens and devise common, concrete methods of
cooperating. That means cooperating in Europe when the relevant problem affects
the whole of Europe. This is why it constitutes a true testing ground for
modernity, a model for the future organization of the world.
It's true for the fight against drug trafficking. We know
that the drug routes are crossing our countries, ignoring borders. In Florence,
within the G5 framework, I made proposals which have been adopted as the basis
of a coherent European response. The creation of joint platforms along the
Atlantic shoreline and in the Balkans will strengthen our strike force, just
like the deployment of joint liaison officers in South America, the Middle East
and Asia, and the training of joint investigation teams.
It's even more relevant when it comes to the fight against
illegal immigration. Naturally, a strict national policy is needed: as a result
of my efforts, in less than one year the number of undocumented foreigners
escorted back to the border has risen by 40%. I have also given mayors the
necessary powers to improve the supervision of the proofs of residence they
issue. But this policy can be efficient in the long term only if there is real
European cooperation. Today, Europe is our common territory thanks to the
freedom of movement which is at the heart of the European Union. So it is Europe
that needs to be protected against illegal immigration, and we need to do so
with due regard for the principles of our European project. Here again, I
offered suggestions, during the last G5 meeting of Interior Ministers, on how we
could develop a European security plan, stepping up border controls and
expanding on a much more ambitious scale our cooperation with the countries of
origin. If we are working together at both ends, I'm sure we'll get lasting
results. Especially as we have some effective technical tools: Eurodac, which
stores the fingerprints of any asylum seeker or illegal immigrant, aged 14 and
over, whose identity has been controlled in the European Union. We can also use
the Schengen Information System, which, from 2006, should contain fingerprints
and details of all foreigners under expulsion orders in a member State.
The main task now is to promote the widest possible use of
those operating rules. Europe, when united, has enough authority to make itself
heard and press for the universal respect of the principles and methods it is
We need a radically different security approach, a global
one. Some threats demand no less. Can anyone imagine facing climate change or a
worldwide health scare on their own?
Let's take terrorism: we need a detailed analysis to wage a
coherent, concerted battle. This means an analysis that distinguishes between
ideologists, organizers and bombers. I thus suggested focussing on the most
dangerous link. At the Sheffield G5, we agreed, upon this suggestion, to
systematically share our lists of radical Islamists who have attended training
camps. This is a concrete example of how to target our action better by working
Let's go back to the case of health threats: the diagnosis of
a virus is the first and probably the most important challenge. On it depends
the launching of appropriate treatment. Again, we can already count on a United
Nations body, the World Health Organization. Knowledge is the beginning of
It is indeed difficult to agree on how to decide on the
response, how to implement it and on the seriousness and the immediacy of any
threat. But that’s not a reason to give up. On the contrary, we need to go
towards worldwide democracy. Only worldwide democracy, by which I mean a
multilateral response to these challenges, will allow us to define with the
necessary legitimacy obligations which everyone must comply with. This is how
our two countries will be true to the values and principles they have always
Ladies and gentlemen,
In France, probably as well as in Britain, we are aware that we’re living in
difficult times. Politics is in need of a new compass. But we often forget that
this hardship is also a new opportunity: an opportunity for governments to prove
their sense of responsibility, an opportunity for citizens to reaffirm how
committed they are to democratic principles.
Europe has to seize this opportunity to set an example, to
make heard the voice of responsibility, the united voice of peoples all over the
world, the voice of faithfulness to the human condition itself. A hundred years
after the Entente Cordiale, France and Britain can once again, through their
exemplary cooperation, show the way and together plough the furrow of freedom.
In saying this, I am thinking of the "Lettres sur la Nation
anglaise" that Voltaire published in 1733, in your language, after his
two-and-a-half years of exile in England. He discovered here the virtue of
tolerance and praised your political mores, celebrating in your country "the
temple of liberty".
Today, between our two nations – I feel it after my few hours
of exile – the fascination is still intact. Coming to France when you’re
British, like coming to Britain when you’re French, means being prepared to face
new surprises. There is indeed between us this mirror of strangeness, this
inexhaustible well of mystery which is the source of all true passion. Between
you and us, there will be many more centuries of Entente Cordiale.