Francophonie, an area of multilateral cooperation

The Francophonie is a an institution organizing relations between countries which have the French language in common. Léopold Sédar Senghor, Habib Bourguiba, Hamani Diori and Norodom Sihanouk were the founding fathers of the Francophonie institution which was created in 1970 in Niamey under the name Cultural and Technical Cooperation Agency. It became the Intergovernmental Agency of La Francophonie in 1998 and then the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) in 2005. Its aim is to promote the French language and cooperation between the 84 Member States and governments. This aim is formalized in the Charter of La Francophonie, adopted in 1997 at the Hanoi Summit and amended by the Ministerial Conference in 2005 at Antananarivo.

La Francophonie in figures
  • 84 States and governments
  • 300 million French language speakers
  • 5th most-spoken language in the world
  • 48 % of French speakers live in Africa
  • 80 million people taught in French

International Organisation of La Francophonie

The International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) has 54 Member States and governments, 4 Associate Members and 26 Observer Members. It has four main missions:

  • Promoting the French language and cultural and linguistic diversity on the international stage and in the member countries through targeted cooperation programmes;
  • Promoting peace, democracy and human rights by acting as a partner in dealing with crises and conflicts in the Francophone area;
  • Supporting education and vocational training (teacher training, bilingual teaching);
  • Developing cooperation for sustainable development (advocacy, technical support in international negotiations).

The OIF headquarters is located in Paris and the organization has six regional offices (Port-au-Prince, Bucharest, Lomé, Libreville, Antananarivo and Hanoi) and four permanent representations (Geneva, Brussels, Addis Ababa and New York) placed under the authority of the Secretary General.

Governance bodies of La Francophonie institutions

  • The Francophonie Summit (Conference of Heads of State and government of countries with the French language in common) is the main body of La Francophonie. It meets every two years under the presidency of the head of State or government of the host country to set out the future plans for La Francophonie in order to ensure its global outreach.
  • The Francophonie Ministerial Conference is an annual meeting of Foreign or Francophonie Ministers of member countries and governments of the Francophone community. It prepares the Summits and ensures the implementation of Summit decisions.
  • The Permanent Council of La Francophonie is made up of permanent representatives of heads of State and government of member countries. It prepares and monitors Summits under the authority of the Ministerial Conference. It is supported in its work by numerous commissions such as the political or economic commissions, and plays the role of facilitator, coordinator and adjudicator.
  • The Secretary General is the political representative of La Francophonie on the international stage and is under the authority of the bodies above. The Secretary General is the keystone of the International Organisation of the Francophonie, acting as legal representative of the organization and chairing the Permanent Council of La Francophonie.
  • La Francophonie has permanent ministerial conferences including the Conference of Ministers of Education with French in common (CONFEMEN) and the Conference of Ministers for Youth and Sports in French-speaking countries (CONFEJES). They work to draw up multilateral French-language policies in their respective fields. Other ministerial conferences meet from time to time (culture, higher education and research, digital technology, economy and finance, etc.)

France and La Francophonie

France works actively to develop La Francophonie. Since 20 March 2018, when the French President presented a “Comprehensive Plan for the Promotion of the French Language and Multilingualism Worldwide”, it has been focusing on the French language, the common foundation of multilateral Francophonie institutions and especially the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF).

La Francophonie acts as a forum for educational, political and economic cooperation and provides important support to ensure French remains an international language. France is the leading contributor to the OIF and Francophonie agency highlighting their role as a priority vehicle for action.

Updated: October 2018