La Francophonie, an area of multilateral cooperation

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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.

Vidéo : La Francophonie, a common language

La Francophonie in figures
  • 88 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, Associate Members and 27 Observer Members.

The OIF’s work is focused on four main areas:

  • promoting the assets of the French language, its status and its importance in the world;
  • facilitating the use of French in diplomatic arenas of influence and in the Olympic Movement;
  • high-quality education in French and teaching of French as a foreign language;
  • digital use of the language.

The OIF headquarters are 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 the multilateral Francophonie

  • 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 guidelines 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 personal 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.
  • Placed under the authority of the bodies above, the Secretary General is the political spokesperson of La Francophonie on the international stage. As the keystone of the institutional system of La Francophonie , they lead the International Organisation of La Francophonie, of which they are the legal representative, and chairs the Permanent Council of La Francophonie.
  • Moreover, 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) are two permanent ministerial conferences of La Francophonie. 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.)

Stakeholders of the Charter of La Francophonie

  • The University Agency for Francophonie (AUF) is one of the largest university associations in the world, with more than 1,000 member universities in around 100 countries. It brings together higher education and research institution from across the globe which use the French language for teaching and conducting research.
  • The Université Senghor d’Alexandrie (Egypt) is a private higher education institution which provides specialized training for senior officials and leaders from the private and public sectors in sub-Saharan and North Africa offering courses in a wide range of fields devoted to sustainable development.
  • The International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF) has 294 members in 51 countries. The member cities cooperate in the areas of municipal management, the digitalization of the civil registry and urban development. Since its inception, the AIMF has been chaired by the Mayor of Paris.
  • TV5MONDE, the leading global TV channel in French, is viewed by more than 350 million households in the world, via cable or satellite, 24/7, in more than 200 countries and territories. It is the main channel that provides a window into French and Francophone creative endeavors internationally.
  • The Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie (AUF) is a consultative assembly of La Francophonie, it brings together Francophone parliamentary members of 88 national parliaments (55 full members, 15 associate members, 18 observers). The Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie adopts resolutions on political, economic, social and cultural issues. It also adopts opinions and recommendations for the Francophonie Ministerial Conference and the Permanent Council of La Francophonie, as well as recommendations for the Summit.

Other stakeholders in multilateral Francophone cooperation

  • The Conference of NGOs and INGOs of La Francophonie brings together 127 organizations. It is consulted for the drafting of the strategy and the programming of the OIF, and heard at the Summit through the intermediary of the Secretary-General of La Francophonie.
  • The 16 institutional networks of La Francophonie take action in the areas of peace, democracy and human rights, building on a common legal and jurisdictional language and culture.
  • The Francophone Forum of Trade (FFA) aims to develop trade between Francophone countries. The Conference of African and Francophone Chambers (CPCCAF) promotes the development of regional cooperation and employment.
  • The Union of Francophone Press (UPF) is the world’s oldest Francophone association. Founded in 1950, under the name of the International Francophone Press Union (UIJPLF), it promotes cooperation between Francophone media outlets.

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 agencies highlighting their role as a priority vehicle for action.
November 2020