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  • JJS
  • Membre/Member, NTIA IANA Functions' Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (2014~2016); Membre/Member, NetMundial Initiative Coordination Council (déc. 2014~2016); ICANN/ALAC (2010~14); ICANN Board (2007-10); diplomat(e) (1971-2005); ambassadeur/dor (1995-2005). Gouvernance; défis globaux / Governance; global challenges.
  • Membre/Member, NTIA IANA Functions' Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (2014~2016); Membre/Member, NetMundial Initiative Coordination Council (déc. 2014~2016); ICANN/ALAC (2010~14); ICANN Board (2007-10); diplomat(e) (1971-2005); ambassadeur/dor (1995-2005). Gouvernance; défis globaux / Governance; global challenges.

Rechercher / Search

25 août 2013 7 25 /08 /août /2013 00:00

Built for the most part during the Cold War, surveillance systems on a global scale were considered a vital necessity with the onset of nuclear weapons, if only to keep Mutually Assured Destruction at bay. Today, these systems are also used for domestic surveillance and universal data harvesting, including on one’s own citizens. Should such systems still be considered with the same reverence as, say, in the midst of some Cuban Missile Crisis? Internet specialists have addressed some of the questions posed by this blanket surveillance (among others, in Circle ID: Geoff Huston and Roy Balleste).


In the Soviet Union, military power and ideological control relied on a vast network of listeners and analysts, of multilingual chauffeurs and fellow travellers across the globe. In the United States, the ayatollah Joseph McCarthy saw in the West-East confrontation an opportunity to use Cold War methods on home ground to eradicate anything close to « socialism », shore up religious persuasions, nurture capitalism and pave the way for global financial dominance. And today, countries with interests around the world use the Internet as a conduit for influence and power, when it is not for their covert actions.


Over the years, individuals have assumed the high-risk role of whistleblowers because their duties made them aware of the dire consequences of public policy: through his selfless action, Daniel Ellsberg (The Pentagon Papers 1971) helped shorten the US occupation of Vietnam. More recently, whistleblowers have emerged because the Internet provided access to confidential data which they considered of crucial importance to their fellow citizens; others exposed the massive and systematic electronic surveillance by the US, including of its own citizens at home and abroad; and the dissemination of information about Prism and Echelon has put into question the very notion of being an ally (the UK claims to be a full member of the European Union, yet it is one of only 5 beneficiary states of Echelon). Such whistleblowers are reviled by some and hailed by others: Sibel Edmonds, Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, Julian Assange, and recently Edward Snowden (and those who helped them: Sarah Harrison from WikiLeaks aided Snowden during his travails in Hongkong and Moscow; Glenn Greenwald, a journalist with The Guardian, published Snowden’s story as it unfolded).


This form of unmediated transparency, possible only in democracies, has always been the nightmare of theocracies and other single-party regimes. In its terminal stages, the USSR could do nothing against the humble fax machine, which turned out to be an essential vicar of Perestroika. Turning to Asia, one cannot help but wonder what would have been the outcome of Tian’anmen if, in 1989, global social networks had been available on the same scale as today. More recently, and true to their messianic inclinations, our Western democracies offered verbal encouragement to movements of self-liberation in the Near- and Middle-East, while vaunting the role played by (Western) social media in these upheavals.


But now we are witnessing a regrettable convergence: established democracies are resorting to the methods of regimes they have long criticized, and they do this with a sense of righteousness, in the name of a « global war on terror ». For anyone interested in US affairs, it is disturbing to see that President Obama is implementing parts of the Neo-Con agenda that even the Cheney Administration had not achieved (Patriot Extension Act 2011; maintaining Guantanamo; Boundless Informant; comforting current NSA and related practices without effective oversight). Some day, US citizens will have to come to grips with the growing contradiction between the lofty principles upon which their country was founded, including the "Wall of separation" between state and religion (Jefferson 1802), and 21st-century US where the President concludes his swearing-in with an astounding "so help me God". in the Middle East and elsewhere, religious bigots point at the caption "In God we trust" printed on every US banknote and adopted as the national motto of the US (1956), to better impose their bleak obscurantism in madrassas. This convergence holds more dangers for democracies than for theocracies. It is deeply disturbing that the United Kingdom’s GCHQ secretly accepted £100 million from the NSA, the US agency seeming to consider that massive global surveillance could be carried out without bothersome legislative and judiciary oversight in Britain, the country that schoolchildren around the world know as the cradle of parliamentary democracy.


A naive posture has no place in this debate: countries who can afford it usually have agencies that gather information and try to influence decisions in other countries. But recent developments should lead us to examine several points:


-       1) By eschewing principles for the sake of « operational efficiency », democracies weaken the very core of their social cohesion and political stability. These principles are so obvious that one is embarrassed to name them: civil liberties, human rights, a clear separation of powers. Established democracies have become complacent about their own practices, and it is high time that surveillance be effectively subordinated to judiciary and parliamentary control, rather than left to the sole judgment of the executive.

  2) Technical entities such as ICANN should be more open about discussing this, because the separation between the technical and the governance aspects of the Internet no longer has the same justification as when Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn et al invented TCI/IP. This challenge has just been taken up by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) at its Berlin meeting, where it decided to devise methods to protect the privacy of the general Internet user. The IETF shows the way forward: there is no taboo, even for a technical body, to place as much emphasis on user privacy as on engineering challenges or business opportunities.


-       3) The debate about the Internet has long avoided considering the global public interest as a priority. It is time to recognize that the rape of privacy has become a widespread and unpunished crime, and as such requires firm corrective legislation and processes. Awareness has been raised by some great Internet names: most recently, Tim Berners-Lee and his World Wide Web Foundation issued a statement on "Surveillance laws: time to reform the status quo". The efforts of W3C, ISOC, the Council of Europe and others now need to be gathered in a meta-platform, in order to impact public policy.


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17 novembre 2012 6 17 /11 /novembre /2012 23:13

Je viens de voir "Augustine" (scénario et mise en scène d'Alice Winocour) au cinéma du quartier, fort troublé par ce qui semble être un cas de plagiat sans scrupule.

Dans les dernières minutes du film, lorsqu'Augustine (Soko, excellente dans le rôle), Charcot (un Vincent Lindon rigide) et Mme Charcot (Chiara Mastroiani, fine, intelligente) se diluent dans la foule du soir, une musique prend de l'ampleur, un lancinant canon de cordes étreint le spectateur : n'est-ce pas "Tabula rasa", du compositeur estonien Arvo Pärt (oeuvre de 1977) ? Le film terminé, et tandis que la salle de cinéma se vidait, je suis resté assis, pour le plaisir de voir apparaître le nom de Pärt, qui méritait bien ce coup de chapeau. Mais quelle surprise, dans la liste des noms qui défile après la dernière image, on apprend le nom de l'électricien, du coiffeur, mais quand vient "musique", je lis avec surprise le seul nom de Jocelyn Pook.

De retour à la maison, je vérifie de suite, sur les sites spécialisés, la filmographie concernant "Augustine" : avec étonnement, je constate qu'à côté de la mention "musique", seul figure le nom de Jocelyn Pook. Et sur le site de cette compositrice et altiste britannique, il est bien fait mention du fait qu'elle compose la musique d' "Augustine", mais sans aucune indication qu'elle ait pu être inspirée par l'oeuvre de Pärt.

Peut-on imaginer qu'Alice Winocour et les producteurs (Isabelle Madelaine, Emilie Tisné, Laurent Pétin, Michèle Pétin), auraient manqué à ce point de culture musicale, mais aussi d'élémentaire prudence, en ne vérifiant pas que la musique accompagnant la dernière scène du film, devait beaucoup à un grand compositeur contemporain, Arvo Pärt ? Faut-il imaginer que Jocelyn Pook, qui a déjà signé de nombreuses musiques de film, se serait laissée aller à faire ce gros emprunt en comptant sur l'ignorance des spectateurs ? Dans l'un et l'autre cas, le résultat est d'une indélicatesse crasse et, faute d'explication convaincante d'Alice Winocour ou de Jocelyn Pook, laisse planer l'ombre d'un plagiat éhonté.

Il serait dommage que la réputation de l'une ou l'autre fût ternie par cette négligence. Comme bien d'autres spectateurs, j'attends des explications.



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14 février 2012 2 14 /02 /février /2012 07:20

 ➠ 中文版 

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En calligraphie, l'esprit ordonne le geste, le corps ne fait qu'exécuter.


C'était lors d'une fête qu'un ami donnait dans un musée d'art contemporain pour son 50ème anniversaire. Ses parents, son épouse, ses enfants, des amis de jeunesse, des collègues, quelques dizaines d’invités formaient un groupe varié et de tout âge. En terminant sa sobre allocution, le héros de la fête évoqua un ami d'enfance présent à ses côtés, et lui demanda d'exécuter quelques calligraphies avant que nous ne passions au buffet.

Discrète, attentive à tout, Mme XU Dengyin , l'épouse du calligraphe, aidée de deux ou trois invités, débarrassa une table, déploya des rouleaux de papier, disposa les instruments d'écriture, vérifia l'encre, et de ses paumes lissa la première page blanche.

Vêtu d'un tricot aux manches retroussées, ZHENG Jieping  鄭階平(郑阶平)s'avança vers l'écritoire improvisé. Ceux qui ne le connaissaient pas, retenant leur souffle, se demandèrent comment une personne sans mains et sans avant-bras pouvait s'adonner à la calligraphie. Un instant de concentration, regardant l'encrier, puis la feuille blanche, à nouveau l'encrier et les pinceaux, l’artiste se préparait à écrire.

L'instant d'après, il saisit le plus grand pinceau, le trempa, et d'un geste sûr en exprima l'encre superflue sur les bords de l'encrier. D'habitude, un calligraphe tient le pinceau dans sa main droite comme le prescrivent les manuels de cet art, "avec la fermeté du tigre et la légèreté de l'oiseau". Ici, ZHENG Jieping, debout, tenait le pinceau de ses deux membres supérieurs, de sorte que l'acte d'écrire mobilisait tout son corps, qui se déplaçait tout entier de droite à gauche au rythme de la calligraphie, le torse et la tête imprimant au pinceau d'amples mouvements pour les grands caractères puis, pour achever en plus petits idéogrammes la date et sa signature, se focalisant comme un horloger sur une montre, en gestes de faible ampleur dont on devine la précision.

Les invités, émerveillés, formèrent un cercle de plus en plus resserré autour du calligraphe. Plusieurs grandes feuilles passèrent ainsi de l’état de papier à celui de signe, de message, d’art. L'après-midi fut éclairé par ZHENG Jieping, écrivant de tout son corps ; le pinceau, à l'aplomb de son regard concentré, semblait alors l'instrument docile d'une surprenante chorégraphie.

Intéressé par le style de ce calligraphe, j'ai proposé à son épouse et lui de leur rendre visite afin de faire connaissance et prendre quelques photos. Echange de numéros de téléphone, promesse de se contacter bientôt.

Par une journée pluvieuse, je me suis rendu dans leur appartement au dernier étage d'un immeuble, avec vue sur le fleuve Huangpu, gris métallique ce jour-là. Nous bûmes du thé, bavardâmes, continuèrent au restaurant du quartier où je les conviai avec leur fils, retournâmes chez eux et regardâmes des albums, des livres, des calligraphies récentes.


Le calligraphe ZHENG Jieping 鄭階平 郑阶平) chez lui, à Shanghai.

Il ne m'en a pas parlé, mais ses amis savent que le tout jeune ZHENG Jieping fut accidentellement électrocuté par un câble à haute tension, avec pour conséquence la perte de ses deux bras. L'amputation lui laissa des moignons juste au-dessus des coudes. Sans doute a-t-il fallu une volonté hors norme pour surmonter une telle épreuve. Sa passion de la calligraphie remonte à l'école primaire, lorsqu'il avait admiré le talent de quelques camarades dont les oeuvres étaient exposées, et regretté de n'en avoir pas lui-même.

En regardant des photos de Jieping jeune homme, je découvre la haute exigence qu'il n'a cessé d'avoir à l'égard de lui-même : dans une photo, le voilà à une rencontre sportive régionale pour personnes handicapées, et dans une autre, le voici aux Olympiades pour handicapés (saut en longueur). Il a produit pour la jeunesse des manuels de calligraphie dont il m'a montré les brouillons, chaque caractère tracé avec ce qui m'a paru une grande aisance, mais qui résulte sans doute d'années d'une riguoureuse discipline. J'imagine le respect qu'il doit inspirer à ses éleves, dans le lycée à Shanghai où, en classe de calligraphie, il leur parle aussi de l'évolution des styles au cours des siècles.


ZHENG Jieping avec son épouse XU Dengyin et leur fils ZHENG Weixiong. L’inscription célèbre la nouvelle année, “Que l’année du dragon apporte le bonheur” (龍年戴福 xinnian daifu).

S'il pratique tous les styles d'écriture, je trouve que ZHENG Jieping excelle dans le caoshu  ("la souplesse des hautes herbes"), forme dont l'apparente décontraction suppose non seulement une maîtrise technique, mais aussi une profonde connaissance étymologique, historique et littéraire. Tandis que d’autres graphies, notamment le kaishu 楷书 demandent un respect rigoureux du modèle proposé, laissant ainsi peu de place à la fantaisie ou à la créativité, caoshu est une forme dans laquelle, me semble-t-il, une personnalité hors du commun trouve à s’exprimer librement.


Calligraphie en écriture caoshu ("la souplesse des hautes herbes") par ZHENG Jieping.

Il est surprenant qu'un artiste de cette qualité, apprécié des initiés en Chine, soit à peu près inconnu ailleurs : ne pourrait-on trouver, d'abord en Asie puis dans d'autres régions du monde, des galeries souhaitant montrer, à travers ZHENG Jieping, que la calligraphie est indissociable de la culture chinoise, tout en faisant penser, par son abstraction, à l'art contemporain ? 


Vous pouvez faire part de votre ais en cliquant sur "commentaire" ci-dessous. Merci !

 (Les commentaires sont modérés par le propriétaire de ce blog).

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14 février 2012 2 14 /02 /février /2012 07:12

en français : ZHENG Jieping, calligraphe

翻译 : 女士 


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这样一个在中国被内行人看好杰出的艺术家在其他国家却不被知晓实在有点令人吃惊我们是否能在亚洲然后在其它国家找到一些画廊愿意通过展示郑阶平的书法作品这一保存着中国古老文化的艺术形式 以它的抽象性来反省现代艺术呢



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30 janvier 2012 1 30 /01 /janvier /2012 04:00

In a previous post, I had copied a letter from a group of "friends of ICANN" to the Chair of the Board of ICANN, about the process leading to the recruitment of the next CEO (English original here, translation into French here but scroll down, and into Chinese here).

This group of "friends" considered that a follow-up was necessary, and recently sent a new letter to the Chair of the Board, who graciously replied. The content of both messages is reproduced below.

                                                                        24th of January 2012


 Dear Steve,

In November 2011 we, as a group of friends of ICANN from various parts of the world, had shared with you and your colleagues of the Board our concerns about the process leading to the choice of ICANN’s next CEO, and offering some recommendations. You had graciously acknowledged this letter. Today we are writing as a follow-up to that correspondence.

We note with satisfaction the improvements the Board has brought to the selection process:

 1) a Search Committee was properly formed, with an experienced and respected personnality as its Chair,

 2) the external consultant was chosen among firms having responded to a call for tenders,

3) the preselection process is being carried out by the search firm, not by the Board or its Search Committee,

4)  transparency has improved: the community was invited to comment the draft of the job profile, and elements of the selection process have been posted online,

5) the position of CEO was advertised in a leading weekly publication with a worldwide distribution, not restricted to the USA.

We wish to commend the Board, under your leadership, for having taken these measures which improve the internal governance of ICANN and enhance its image.

The recent publication of the job profile in The Economist is, in itself, a welcome innovation, which we had advocated. However, this advertisement gives rise to new questions:

a) ICANN is not described as a not-for-profit organization. This omission introduces a degree of ambiguity about the nature of ICANN, both for prospective candidates and to its worldwide community. Is this departure from well-established wording meant to indicate that, somehow, ICANN is evolving into a commercial corporation looking for the usual type of CEO?

 b) As an established practice, ICANN has always described itself as a “private-sector led multi-stakeholder organization”. For its advertisement in The Economist, ICANN is said to fulfill its mission "by engaging with a global community of thousands of actively participating stakeholders (governments, businesses, academia, NGO's, technical operators and individuals), all of whom have a role in keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable". Although this latter formulation was probably meant to make the notion of “multi-stakeholder” more widely understood, it weakens the principle according to which stakeholders are on an equal footing,  at the heart of ICANN’s originality and value.

If the advertisement in The Economist is to be published again, it might be worthwhile considering some changes. Additionally, ICANN could easily modify the online job profile to restore clarity.

With best wishes to you and the Board of Directors, we remain

Yours sincerely,

     Nashwa ABDELBAKI, from Egypt,

     AIZU Izumi, from Japan,

     Yrjö LÄNSIPURO, from Finland,

     Evan LEIBOVITCH, from Canada,

     Alejandro PISANTY, from Mexico,

     Nii QUAYNOR, from Ghana,

     Carlton SAMUELS, from Jamaica,

     Jean-Jacques SUBRENAT, from France,

     XUE Hong, from China.

                                                              On behalf of the above:

                                                              (signed) Jean-Jacques Subrenat

And Dr. Crocker replied on 28th of January 2012:

Jean-Jacques, et al,

It is a pleasure to hear from you again and it warms my heart to see that you are following the recruiting process closely.

The ad in the Economist was a deliberate departure from the process we used last time, and I am not surprised that we might not have gotten it exactly right.  Nonetheless, I am pleased to report that we have received a strong response to the ad and, far more importantly, we have received from a variety of sources a good list of strong candidates.  Whatever misunderstandings might have arisen from the wording in the ad will surely be sorted out during the interview process.

Nothing in the ad should be interpreted as altering the fundamental nature and structure of ICANN.  Just as an example, there is no prospect of evolving ICANN into a commercial corporation.  The comments that you have provided are good, and perhaps if we had thought even more about the content of the ad, we would have included them.  The absence of 'not for profit' in the description is unfortunate, since that would have provided another clue in addition to the phrase  'public service' regarding the fundamental nature of ICANN.

We do not plan to run another ad during this recruiting process.  We will keep your comments in the file for the eventuality some day in the future when we have to do this again.

Again, thanks!
Steve Crocker
Chair, ICANN Board of Directors
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12 octobre 2011 3 12 /10 /octobre /2011 17:26

(中文翻译:游 女士)















周一演出之后一个炎热的星期三下午,受田女士之邀,我们十来个朋友,评论家,同事和记者,在一栋被周围的高层建筑包围着的4层小楼房的玻璃墙会议室里一起喝咖啡。发言人中有两个非中国本地人:美国一所大学戏剧专业的女教授还有我本人。在轻松的氛围里,大家轮流着对演出发表评论,批评或者赞美某一个细节,有的人则作出一个更具广泛意思的总结性发言 。对我来说,这个星期三下午就像星期一的演出一样有意义。讨论高雅又坦率。在后半部戏里表现出来的艰难似乎对大家来说都显而易懂,不少人都说到所谓的“文化大革命”,这对一个外国人来说,实在是很有意思。








和相对容易出口的绘画和电影相比,小说和戏曲这两种文化和艺术创作难以让一般的外国人接受。我问了好几个知识分子他们有否可推荐的新小说,他们往往以对外国小说的翻译来结束…… 至于戏曲,中国特殊的美感和外国人的审美观念分歧甚大以至于外国人很难发自内心地来欣赏它。






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12 octobre 2011 3 12 /10 /octobre /2011 17:24

 (The Chinese version was translated by Ms. YOU Xing 游行) 

A Monday evening. The balmy September breeze ushers the spectators into the hall of the Shanghai Theatre Academy (上海戏剧学院), where clusters of students and quite a few senior citizens file past a row of flashy flower baskets which indicate that this evening is meant to be special. The theatre hums to life as spectators flock in, look for their seats, chat loudly, play with their mobile 'phones, change seats and answer calls. 

The play: "Sighs" (qingtan) adapted from the traditional Sichuan repertoire, directed and performed by TIAN Mansha (田蔓莎), with a group of six Sichuan theatre musicians. The spectator cannot but be curious, as even the layman senses how difficult it must be to give contemporary relevance to a piece of regional repertoire from one Chinese province, with its strict musical rules and abundance of literary references which are understood by a Chinese public, but which usually fly over the heads of foreign spectators. For the latter, the translation screens on both sides of the stage provided a welcome degree of comfort.

Naturally, the performance was not aimed at foreigners. But the reactions I had as a spectator led me to think about the special characteristics of Chinese plays, and to wonder if, beyond the performing arts, Chinese culture in general is accessible to the foreigner.

I don't intend to go through the play, because that is far better taken care of by professional theatre critics, or Chinese literati. The performance by Ms. TIAN conveyed the sad yearning of the young wife whose husband has left for high public office in the capital, but also her youthful liveliness which, in a moment, can turn into melancholy. Although never mentioned by name, the decade of acute political turmoil from 1966 onwards (the so-called "cultural revolution", in which culture was used as a pretext) occupies the latter half of the play, Ms. TIAN impersonating with vivid reality, but also with delicacy, the sense of loneliness and utter loss of the artist-turned-cleaner, who for a brief episode remembers the bliss of dance, the flight of the spirit, before being brutally brought back to her senses by a harsh bell.

The central theme, indeed the point of origin of this play is "cultural memory". By not specifying the content of that memory (was it simply the fond recollection of the young forsaken spouse, or was it the more portentous destruction of cultural references during the Dark Age of the 1960s?), Ms. TIAN took the big risk of merely touching the surface. But in the end, the choice of remaining ambiguous turned out to be very potent: the most precious strands of one's life, however much one tries to protect them, cannot escape the devastation wrought by political strife. It is an ode to beauty, to art, but suddenly the spectator understands the exorbitant personal cost of maintaining culture against the onslaught of a wider disaster. And however sad one may be at the end of the play, the injunction to "remember" becomes the important message.

A minimalistic yet expressive stage set, the fact that the excellent musicians were onstage (the Sichuan tradition usually keeps them in the wings), pin-point lighting, all served the one-woman performance well.

A hot Wednesday afternoon, following the Monday performance. We are a dozen or so friends, critics, colleagues or journalists invited to share coffee with Ms. TIAN, in a glass-walled meeting room on the top of a 4-story building surrounded by much taller apartment blocks. There were two non native-Chinese speakers, a lady professor of theatre at a US university, and myself. In a relaxed atmosphere, each in turn commented the performance, criticized or lauded a particular point, some offering a wider conclusion. To me, this Wednesday afternoon was as revealing as the Monday performance itself. The debate was well informed and frank. For a foreigner, it was interesting to note that the difficulties alluded to in the latter part of the play were quite transparent to all, many referring to the so-called "cultural revolution" by name. 

Beyond "Sighs" and Ms. TIAN's performance, one can wonder how audiences around the world react to Chinese culture, and indeed to what extent various Chinese art forms are accessible to people from other cultures. 

During the last two decades, the renewal of Chinese artistic expression has been especially noteworthy in the visual realm. Painting is probably where innovation has been boldest, with experimentation extending from techniques to a complete renewal of subject matter. Painting has been allowed an unusual degree of liberty, as one can see in the many art galleries in Beijing's 798 Art Zone (798艺术Yìshùqū ) or Shanghai's M50 galleries in Moganshan (莫干山) district. When asked about this, artists remark that a fair proportion of the avant-garde paintings end up abroad, so that censorship has kept one eye shut. Another very visual cultural export product is the circus, with its spectacular feats, for which no knowledge of Chinese history or culture is required to enjoy.

Films have also been a major Chinese cultural export item, to the extent that the names of some of the "fifth- and sixth-generation" directors (ZHANG Yimou, CHEN Kaige, JIA Zhangke...) and some movie stars (GONG Li, ZHANG Ziyi...) have become household names even outside China. As for music, the international appeal of a Chinese composition is inversely proportional to its China-specific style and content. In the same way, the numerous regional variants of Chinese lyrical theatre (Beijing "opera" and other types of singing/performing on stage) are extremely difficult for a non-Chinese spectator to understand, even less appreciate.

Compared with easy-to-export paintings and films, two types of intellectual and artistic production remain difficult to bring to the appreciation of a wide international public, and these are the novel and the play. I've asked quite a few intellectuals what contemporary novels they would recommend, and they often ended up talking about translations of foreign novels... As for the theatre, there remains a chasm between the China-specific aesthetic code and what people in other countries can spontaneously appreciate.

The question then arises: is there an insurmountable barrier between, say, a traditional Chinese play and a Western audience? As has been demonstrated in joint productions in France, Germany and elsewhere, some sound preparatory work helps make a play accessible to an educated public: reading about the plot, the period and the playwright before seeing the performance, and having a debate between the public and the performers.

Rendering things accessible to spectators from other backgrounds is indeed a challenge of our times, as this must be achieved without compromising the authentic inspiration of the original work. In this respect, I commend TIAN Mansha and all the artists who helped her adapt "Sighs" from a traditional Sichuan play to a performance with a more universal appeal. I followed closely the translation screens throughout the play, and this helped keep track of the plot; but more than that, it is the artistic expression, the sincerity of Ms. TIAN's acting, so well served by the Sichuan musicians, that endowed the play with universal value.

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10 octobre 2011 1 10 /10 /octobre /2011 15:00

I am grateful to Evan Leibovitch, Byron Holland and Maria Farrell for their comments on the draft of this piece. Any remaining errors or inconsistencies are mine. JJS

So I was wrong.

Wrong when suggesting, in a previous article on this blog, that after the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia and the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt, the movement might spread rapidly to Teheran, Algiers, Manama, Damascus. In addition, I was short-sighted when limiting my field of vision to Middle-Eastern cases of dictatorship, while neglecting other seeds of wrath, such as the shameless greed in our own democracies.

Teheran? Since the article mentioned above, friends have pointed out to me that, in fact, an Iranian Spring predated the events in Tunis and Cairo. In 2009, the protests following the elections, in which Mousavi had been cheated out of victory, were precursors of the 2011 Arab Spring. In spite of the confiscation of the election 2 years ago, Ahmadinejad is no longer invulnerable, even on his conservative flank. Societal change is pushing reality in urban Iran, in spite or because of so many excesses committed in the name of obscurantism, which some ayatollahs still uphold as national dogma. The compulsory adulation of clerics is backfiring sharply. Women, who are emerging in higher education, are less subservient to males than previously in everyday life, and are also gaining ground in professional circles. I don't know if Iran will experience its own Persian Spring, but the writing is on the wall.

Algiers? Alas, the system set in place during the revolt against the French occupation, and which led to independence, was quickly corrupted by its essentially military leaders, who have fattened themselves on oil income, crushed social reform, apportioned the economic cake into slices to their sole benefit, and placed a majority of university graduates in the position of permanent job-seekers. In Algeria where reform is needed even more urgently than in Egypt, those in power are standing on the brakes, and seem prepared to brutally repress any attempt at democratization, so that the likelihood of an Algerian Spring appears, at this stage, unpredictable and remote.

Sana’a? The steadfast courage of the opposition was recently given a welcome boost by the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to Ms. Tawakkul Karman, the civil rights activist. In a few weeks, the situation has changed so much that President El-Saleh now openly accepts the prospect of being driven out of his palace and into exile.

Damascus? The events in Syria are skewed because Al-Assad has powerful allies: two sponsors (Iran, Russia) and one client (Hizbullah and, by inference, segments of Lebanese politics). Also compounding the situation is the fact that, unlike Egypt and Libya, but like Iraq, Syria is split along tribal and sectarian lines. Ousting the Libyan dictator from Tripoli was not easy, but at least the UN Security Council resolution benefited from Moscow and Beijing looking the other way. But this time, both Russia and China have used their veto to oppose a Western-led resolution in the Security Council aimed at bringing Al-Assad to international accountability. With more than two thousand people killed by his forces since early 2011, Syria is in a critical condition, and yet the likelihood of a Syrian Spring seems as remote today as it was three months ago, if not more so.

Israel? Massive political demonstrations have taken place, first on economic grounds, but now a large part of the population considers that the country is being run by extremists and that the democratic system is failing its citizens. Superficially, this does not seem to have a link with the issue of statehood for Palestine, but exposing the internal political process as being controlled by the wealthy and by religious extremism, certainly brings about enhanced awareness of the challenges for Israel in the region, and will no doubt have wider ramifications in the context of future elections.

Saudi Arabia? While not apparently under short-term threat, the kingdom appears not to be taking any chances. The granting of some civic rights to women (voting rights in municipal elections starting in 2014) is a major shift from past doctrine, and can only be attributed to the restless mood in the region, as the BBC recently pointed out.

I was also wrong in not having seen that some of the causes leading to the "Arab Spring" could produce similar effects in the West, in spite of vastly different circumstances. We tend to consider that our own societies cannot experience such fundamental turmoil, for the simple reason that democracy was spawned not in China, not in the Islamic world, not in the Slavic tradition, but in the Western cultural mould. We consider that because democracy is ours, we may instruct other nations, yet can hardly imagine being tutored by them. As Naomi Klein recently said while taking part in the Occupy Wall Street march in New York, "In the US media, they keep saying What are their demands, why are they protesting? But in the rest of the world, people are going What took you so long? Welcome to the club!" (DemocracyNow!, 6 October 2011, Ms. Klein's interview is 1 minute 30 seconds into the programme). There was an influential fore-runner of the New York movement, earlier in 2011 in Wisconsin, where large and peaceful protests were staged against the Republican governor. These demonstrations took place at the same time as those in Tunis and Cairo, and seem to have been directly inspired by them.

Analyzing the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement may require stretching conventional views quite a bit. For instance, can we consider the march on Liberty Street (leading to Wall Street, itself cordoned off by the New York Police Department) as just a North-American replay of the protest movement which has gone on for months in Greece? Yes, the protest on both sides of the Atlantic is in part against the degradation of public services, the shrinking of revenue in the lower-income bracket, and impunity for boundlessly greedy bankers (in the West) or autocrats (in the Middle East). But the differences must not be glossed over when considering the situations of the US and Greece. In the US, OWS is partly a reaction to the success of the “Tea Party” movement, and in that sense its motives seem far removed from the Arab Spring. Indeed, Tea Partiers and Occupants of Wall Street both criticize Congress as ineffectual, out of touch, controlled by vested interests, and prepared to favour big business to an unreasonable degree. Because Tea Party started earlier, it is for the time being better organized and more focused than OWS. One of the underlying problems is that mainstream media in the US are instructed to avoid the deeper debate about how they are financed and what interests they represent, and as a result the OWS movement is treated with condescension, if not worse, by most mainstream media. The US debt is now largely dependent upon China and other foreign holders of dollar-denominated bonds, whereas a solution to the Greek debt depends mainly on continued EU solidarity, even though China has been cautiously willing to absorb some of Athens' high-yield obligations. Average Greeks face a substantial loss of earnings but, because their country is a member of the European Union, they still have the benefit of basic public health care, considered as a social right. In the US, even under Obama, that is still far from being the case, with ultra-conservative lawmakers and some big media trying to discredit the very notion of public health care by conjuring up images of Stalin-era communism.

Another striking feature of the Occupy Wall Street movement is the way it is dealt with as a social phenomenon in the US. One new anchor at CNN denigrated the marches taking place in New York by entitling her programme "Seriously?" inferring that the participants must be simply ignorant. During a press conference at the White House on 6 October 2011, President Obama was asked how he viewed Occupy Wall Street, and as expected he saw this movement as a reaction to the financial downturn (my underlining): "I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel -- that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street, and yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place." This contradicts a statement he made earlier in the same press meeting, when his analysis was somewhat broader: "A lot of the problems that this economy is facing are problems that predate the financial crisis -- middle-class families seeing their wages and their incomes flat, despite rising costs for everything from health care to a college education. And so folks have been struggling not just for the last three years; they’ve been struggling for over a decade now. And at a time when so many people are having such a hard time, we have to have an approach, we have to take action, that is big enough to meet the moment."

In spite of the principles of equality and fairness Obama declared he would uphold (inaugural speech, January 2009), the current US President has not implemented a system of oversight and regulation capable of truly protecting the people from the excesses of corporate greed. The Cheney presidency and its predecessors were responsible for creating an atmosphere in which "regulation" became a dirty word, but Obama has not brought to a halt the indecent practice of extravagant bailouts, which are quickly followed by billions in extra earnings for the bankers who proved to be unworthy stewards of hard-earned savings. By stating that the Occupy Wall Street movement is in response to a financial crisis, Obama implies that the overall construct of American society remains what it was meant to be under Madison and Jefferson, and that however unpleasant its consequences in the short term, the current crisis is limited to the financial sector.

The demonstrations in New York and about 800 other cities in the US beg a question: is this phenomenon going to grow into something bigger? Are US activists willing to revisit some of the features which set the Fifty States and the Federal District quite apart from other large democracies, and which have gradually undermined the credibility of the US message to the rest of the world? In which other large democracy is the chief of a powerful Executive branch elected by an anachronistic electoral college? In what other large democracy is representation limited, for all practical purposes, to two parties? When Iraq and Afghanistan were subjected to military occupation, how many elected representatives in Washington challenged the decision of the Executive, knowing that the Constitution grants powers of war to the Congress, not to the President? Do these same elected representatives honestly think they can hold forth on the model of US democracy when visiting, say, Turkey or Indonesia, Colombia or Nigeria?

Some observers will disparage the marchers in New York and elsewhere, with the intent to belittle the agenda of Occupy Wall Street: they will sneer at this "thing" without a leader, they will mock the style of the participants, they will pontificate on the comfort of being a protester in a "far too tolerant" society, and most of all they will not permit the debate to focus on the larger picture of systemic inequality. If a true debate emerges, they will try to keep it within the confines of arguing about the “financial” crisis alone.

Of course, there are huge differences between some Arab states and the US, between political upheaval aimed at ousting a dictator, and the call for profound reform in a vibrant democracy such as the United States. Nonetheless, the question is no longer unutterable: After Tunis and Cairo... New York?


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8 octobre 2011 6 08 /10 /octobre /2011 14:28


(The original letter in English may be viewed here)

(La version française de cette lettre peut être consultée ici)










AIZU Izumi 会津泉 自日本; Manal ISMAIL 自埃及; Yrjö LÄNSIPURO 自芬兰; Evan LEIBOVITCH 自加拿大;Alejandro PISANTY 自墨西哥;Nii QUAYNOR 自加纳; Njeri RIONGE 自肯尼亚; Carlton SAMUELS 自牙买加; Jean-Jacques SUBRENAT 自法国; 薛虹 自中国。



(经得薛虹教授 [北京师范大学互联网政策与法律研究中心主任]同意,谨在此刊登这篇文章的中文版)。

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19 septembre 2011 1 19 /09 /septembre /2011 01:00

(Le texte en français se trouve à la suite du texte en anglais)



The CEO of ICANN, Rod Beckstrom, made known by Twitter on 16 August 2011 his intention to leave the corporation in July 2012, at the end of his current contract. This was quickly followed by an official announcement on the ICANN website.

Among the many comments which ensued, some dwelt on the management style of the current CEO, others underlined the challenge for the Board in having to choose the next CEO while attending to all the other items on an already complicated agenda. Kieren McCarthy suggested the decision to terminate Beckstrom's contract in July 2012 was the Board's, not the CEO's. Beau Brendler considered Beckstrom's departure would be an opportunity for change. Kevin Murphy provided a glimpse into the rumours about who might become the next CEO...

Some concern was expressed about the way the search for a CEO had been conducted the last time, when looking for a successor to Paul Twomey, a process which many consider had not been transparent, nor a model of good governance within the ICANN Board itself.

In this context of fairly wide concern for the future of ICANN, a group of friends of ICANN reflected on the situation, and on 17 September 2011, sent the following letter to Dr. Stephen D. Crocker, Chair of the Board of Directors of ICANN: 

"Dear Dr. Crocker, Dear Steve,

as a group of friends of ICANN from various parts of the world, we would be grateful if you would share this letter with your fellow Directors.

The President & CEO of ICANN has announced that he will be leaving this corporation in July 2012, when his current contract expires. At a time when ICANN has to deal with other important challenges, its Board of Directors will have the additional task of selecting his successor.

In any corporation, selecting a CEO is one of the most crucial responsibilities incumbent upon the Board. In ICANN, with its distinctive multi-stakeholder structure and volunteer Board, the importance of such a choice cannot be overstated, especially at this stage in the development of the Internet and of ICANN itself. The progress made by ICANN so far must be further consolidated. At the same time, upholding the value of the multi-stakeholder model, which some are actively seeking to jeopardize, requires continuity of purpose as well as renewed imagination. Under the guidance and oversight of the Board, the next CEO will have the duty not only of leading, but also of strengthening ICANN.

The selection of a new CEO, shortly after the completion of the first Accountability and Transparency Review, provides the Board with an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that it is now fully equipped and prepared to implement all the ATRT recommendations, perhaps even to go beyond that. In the spirit of these recommendations, the Board of ICANN should adopt a more transparent and accountable method for the selection and appointment of the next CEO.

Candidates should be sought through a transparent process (appropriate advertising in global and regional media; call for tenders in order to choose an external consultant, if one is needed). The Board should remain on top of the process, so that all its members are fully informed by the time a decision is called for. Failing to abide by these basic rules of good governance would expose Board members to the risk of eschewing one of their chief responsibilities toward the ICANN community, which is the duty of care. While the confidentiality of some Board deliberations sets understandable constraints, it is possible and desirable, within those bounds, to carry out the selection process in an open and transparent manner, so as to make it irrefutable. It is also important that the next CEO be chosen before the end of the predecessor’s current term, and be ready to begin without delay.

These improvements would be in line with ICANN’s committments. They would also send a strong signal of confidence and clarity to ICANN’s worldwide community, while at the same time consolidating the foundation upon which it aspires to build further global partnerships for the Internet and its users.

With best wishes to you and the Board of Directors, we remain

Yours sincerely,"

 (The signatories are AIZU Izumi, from Japan; Manal ISMAIL, from Egypt; Yrjö LÄNSIPURO, from Finland; Evan LEIBOVITCH, from Canada; Alejandro PISANTY, from Mexico; Nii QUAYNOR, from Ghana; Njeri RIONGE, from Kenya; Carlton SAMUELS, from Jamaica; Jean-Jacques SUBRENAT, from France; XUE Hong, from China.)

If you wish to leave a comment, please click on "Laisser un commentaire" after the French text below.


Le président directeur général d'ICANN, Rod Beckstrom, a fait connaître par Twitter, le 16 août 2011, son intention de quitter cet organisme en juillet 2012, au terme de son présent contrat. Un communiqué officiel fut publié peu après sur le site d'ICANN.

Cette annonce a suscité de nombreux commentaires, certains traitant du style de gestion du PDG, d'autres soulignant plutôt le défi que le directoire devra relever : chercher le prochain PDG tout en s'occupant des autres dossiers d'un programme déjà passablement compliqué. Kieren McCarthy laissait entendre que la décision de ne pas renouveler le contrat avait été prise par le directoire, et non par le PDG. Beau Brendler estimait que le départ de Beckstrom fournirait l'occasion d'un vrai changement. Kevin Murphy donnait un aperçu des rumeurs concernant le choix du successeur... 

 Des critiques ont été formulées au sujet du processus suivi lors de la précédente recherche, lorsqu'il s'agissait de trouver un successeur à Paul Twomey, procédure considérée comme ayant été ni transparente, ni un modèle de bonne gouvernance au sein du directoire lui-même.

Conscients de cette préoccupation assez largement répandue, un groupe d'amis d'ICANN, ayant examiné la situation, a adressé la lettre suivante au Dr. Stephen D. Crocker, président du directoire d'ICANN, le 17 septembre 2011 :

"Monsieur le Président, Cher Steve,

amis d'ICANN en provenance de différentes régions du monde, nous vous serions très reconnaissants de bien vouloir porter ce courrier à la connaissance de vos collègues du directoire.

Le président directeur général (PDG) d’ICANN a récemment annoncé son intention de quitter l’entreprise en juin 2012, au terme de son présent contrat. Dans une période où ICANN doit faire face à d’autres défis importants, son directoire aura la tâche supplémentaire de sélectionner et de nommer son successeur.

Dans toute entreprise, la sélection du président directeur général constitue l’une des responsabilités les plus cruciales incombant au directoire. En raison même de la structure originale d’ICANN fondée sur la multiplicité des parties prenantes, et parce que son directoire est composé de volontaires, on ne saurait trop souligner l’importance d’un tel choix, surtout dans cette phase du développement de l’Internet et d’ICANN. Les progrès réalisés par ICANN demandent à être consolidés et leur mise en oeuvre doit aboutir. Par ailleurs, la défense du modèle à multiples parties prenantes, que certains cherchent activement à fragiliser, suppose une orientation stable, mais aussi un surcroît d’imagination. Sous l’égide et la supervision du directoire, le prochain président directeur général aura la double tâche de diriger et de défendre ICANN.

Peu après la fin de la première Revue sur les devoirs de ”rendre-compte” et de transparence d’ICANN (Accountability and Transparency Review, ATR), la nécessité de choisir un nouveau PDG fournit au directoire l’occasion de démontrer qu’il est capable et disposé à mettre en oeuvre toutes les recommendations de l’ATR, peut-être même d’aller au-delà. Dans l’esprit de ces recommendations, le directoire devrait adopter une méthode plus transparente et vérifiable pour le choix et la nomination de son prochain PDG.

Les candidatures devraient être recherchées au travers d’une procédure tranparente (publicité adéquate dans des media globaux et régionaux ; lancement d’un appel d’offres, si le recours à un consultant externe est considéré comme indispensable). Le directoire doit conserver la maîtrise de la procédure, de façon à ce que ses membres soient pleinement informés au moment du choix. Faute de suivre ces règles élémentaires de bonne gouvernance, les membres du directoire risqueraient de manquer à l’une de leurs principales responsabilités, à savoir le devoir de bonne gestion. S’il est clair que certaines délibérations du directoire doivent demeurer confidentielles, il est possible et souhaitable, dans de telles limites, de conduire la sélection d’une manière ouverte et transparente, afin que le processus soit irréfutable. Il est également important que le choix et la nomination du prochain PDG interviennent avant le terme du contrat de son prédécesseur.

De telles améliorations se situeraient dans le droit fil des engagements pris par ICANN. Elles enverraient aussi un message fort de confiance et de clarté à la communauté globale d’ICANN, tout en consolidant les bases sur lesquelles cette organisation entend fonder de nouveaux partenariats à l’échelle mondiale, pour le bénéfice de l’Internet et de ses usagers.

En vous priant de transmettre nos meilleurs voeux à vos collegues du directoire,

nous vous prions d’agréer, Monsieur le Président, les assurances de notre considération."

(Les signataires sont AIZU Izumi, du Japon ; Manal ISMAIL, d’Egypte ; Yrjö LÄNSIPURO, de Finlande ; Evan LEIBOVITCH, du Canada ; Alejandro PISANTY, du Mexique ; Nii QUAYNOR, du Ghana ; Njeri RIONGE, du Kenya ; Carlton SAMUELS, de la Jamaïque ; Jean-Jacques SUBRENAT, de France ; XUE Hong, de Chine.)

Si vous souhaitez laisser un commentaire, veuillez cliquer sur "Laisser un commentaire" ci-dessous.

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