European Conference on Sectarianism
Paris, Assemblée Nationale: April 23 & 24, 1999

Summary of Speech by Alain VIVIEN
President of the
"Mission interministérielle de lutte contre les sectes"
Former Minister

France has been working on the ways and manners to learn about, prevent and fight the effects of sectarianism for about 15 years. With the recent creation of the "Mission interministérielle de lutte contre les sectes" (Interministerial mission against cults), our country displays a strong political intention.

lt is important to define "cults" in France, as associations with a totalitarian ideology and a dangerous behaviour as regards essential public freedoms and social stability.

Under French law, there exist a number of legal rneans for taking action, among which -for instance- the law on associations, the principle of separation between Church and the Government, various tax provisions and rules against international transfers and tax evasion. Our religions comply with these rules, while international cults refuse to.

lt is quite essential and urgent to develop at the European level a comrnon thinking on these issues. There is indeed a need to awaken people awareness as well as to develop solidarity between our governments. This rneeting comes therefore as a starting point for developing an international approach to what must be regarded as a major issue.

The French Mission is concerned with the work carried out by certain intergovernmental bodies (the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the OSCE) where cults attempt to influence national delegations.

Protecting freedom for human beings is a challenge. Freedom of thought, freedom of belief and freedom of expression are part of our struggle. Your action is essential in reaching these goals. I therefore wish the greatest success for your work and the conclusions which shall result of these two days.