Speech on Security and Democracy by the French Minister
of Interior, M. Dominique de Villepin
London, 27 October 2004
Ladies and Gentlemen,
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 freedom.
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 increasing:
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 organisation; 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
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
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
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
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 democratic security.
* * *
1. Let us be guided by two principles : firmness and rigour. Firmness in the
face of threats, and rigour in our commitment to uphold the very principles
of democracy: freedom, respect and justice.
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 freedoms.
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 members.
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 and 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 for mankind.
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 our freedoms.
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
did not know how to respond to a rise of political extremism.
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 October 2001, was to ensure internal security there. The elections
held this month offer a ray of hope in that country torn by war.
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.
* * *
2. Today, this difficult balance between freedom and security is being put
to the test.
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.
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
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, it is the case for terrorism: from the eleventh of September
to the eleventh of 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 behavior, 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.
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
3. The first priority is to reaffirm the authority of governments.
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.
Against terrorism first:
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
Intelligence Committee. We have two agencies gathering intelligence at
home, a bit like your Special Branch and MI5, and I have made sure they
together. That’s also where international cooperation can make a
strong contribution, especially through the bilateral information exchanges
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
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
citizens of France. A foreigner calling for violence against a specific
religious community has no place in France. Nor does an individual who
like stoning. So, I backed the equivalent in France of a private member's
Bill that modified this order.
Second, we must tackle Organized Crime:
Organized crime networks operate in our countries with more and
more violent methods and increasingly developed financial, human and material
They destabilize entire areas, through the underground economy.
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
until then, separate approaches against the underground economy: today,
security forces, judicial, tax and customs agents are cooperating within the
I have also established an asset forfeiture unit, in which
Interior, Justice and Finance Ministry services will be able to find the
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.
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
Police forces are now also allowed to do night searches.
Third, we must
also join forces against cybercrime
In France, now, there are 25 millions of 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
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
of two sections tasked specifically with detecting illicit content,
will satisfy this imperative. Finally, we have set up a network of experts,
university specialists and Research centres, to stay one step ahead
the criminals in the field of technology.
Fourth, I want to mobilize new tools
against illegal immigration networks,
which supply illegal workers and women for procuring networks:
At national level, the plan for secure electronic ID cards will
make life easier for everyone and enhance the security of documents such
birth certificates, etc.. The introduction of biodata such as facial
recognition or fingerprints on passports, ID cards and visas, will curtail
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
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
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
ensure its decisions are regularly reviewed. It is strong because it respects
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
statement, which gives the Interior Ministry figures for reported crime
and police activity; then, there is the crime watchdog, an independent
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
level, and inform them of the measures taken and of what is expected
of them. This is why I have chosen to create a national database on terrorism,
public access and monitored by an independent expert. It will avoid
both the manipulation and withholding of information. It will also allow the
to convey truthful information and the evaluation of public policies.
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
of citizens, professional organizations and trade unions. They can
evaluate and judge the measures taken to fight insecurity, be it in the
at school, in the street or in public institutions. They can also
expose any negative and intolerable restrictive effects of these measures
freedoms. Independent watchdogs, whose missions and terms of reference
laid down by law, can also contribute: thus, my ministry is cooperating
closely with the national commission for computer science and liberties.
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 a close and permanent monitoring
of the way these new systems are used. It also monitors how long the
is kept and how it is updated, as well as the clearance criteria for
allowed to see the data, and access rights for the individuals concerned.
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
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 specific individual.
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
the United Kingdom, national law has evolved in line with European case-law.
It is a 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 Britain.
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 challenge the most fundamental rights
of our citizens under the pretext of guaranteeing
By doing this would we not simply be giving criminals an uncontested
victory?4. And this is why, today, security is a global necessity, which
requires a collective
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
live in a world which is both more complex and yet more vulnerable,
knowledgeable and yet more fragile. Modernity seems to move forward without
the tools to control the consequences of its creations.
Thus, we need organisation
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
people and goods: migratory flows from southern countries to northern
countries are getting more and more difficult to control. Drug trafficking
from countries like Afghanistan, where the profit from heroin could
account for 50% of GNP. Organised crime routes link European countries to
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. That requires some degree of approximation, for example
to ensure interoperability or greater dialogue between Courts of different
countries. It also requires the strenghtening of common instruments, such
as Europol and Eurojust. Let’s be pragmatic, but pragmatism must not
be an excuse for minimalist action into this key area. What is at stake, here,
is not ideological battles but the security and basic freedoms of our citizens.
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 organisation of the world.
It's true for the fight against drug
trafficking. We know that the drug routes are crossing our countries,
ignoring the borders. In Florence, within the
framework of the G5, I made proposals which have been adopted as the
basis of a coherent European response. The creation of joint platforms along
Atlantic shoreline and in the Balkans will strengthen our strike force,
just like the deployment of joint liaison officers in South America, Middle
and Asia and the training of joint investigation teams.
It's even more relevant
for 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
the supervision of the proofs of residence they issue. But this policy
can only be efficient in the long term 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
against illegal immigration, and we need to do so with due regard for
the principles of our European project. Here again, I offered suggestions,
the last G5 of Interior Ministers, on how we could develop a European
security plan, stepping up border controls and expanding, on a much more
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
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
which, from 2006 should contain fingerprints and details of all foreigners
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
to press for the universal respect of the principles and methods it is committed
We need a radically different security approach, a global one. Some threats
demand no less. Can anyone imagine facing climate change or a world-wide 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, organisers
and bombers. I thus suggested focussing on the most dangerous link.
At the Sheffield G5, we agreed, upon this suggestion, to systematically
lists of radical Islamists who have attended training camps. This is
a concrete example of how to target our action better by working together.
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 an appropriate treatment. Again, we can already count on a United
Nations body, the World Health Organization. Knowledge is the beginning
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.
not a reason to give up. On the contrary, we need to go towards world-wide
democracy. Only world-wide 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 embodied.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In France, probably as well as in Britain, we are aware that we’re living
in difficult times. Politics are 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.
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.
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.