La Francophonie: History, Structure, Organization, and Philosophical Underpinnings

by Moya K. Mason

This report was compiled in 1999 and was used only as a research tool for a series of academic papers. (Note: La Francophonie is used in place of Organisation internationale de la Francophonie in this report.)


The French geographer, Onésime Reclus, first coined the term Francophonie in the nineteenth century. The term never really caught on until the 1960s when Léopold Senghor, first president of Sénégal, used it consistently.

The political leaders who emerged from decolonization in French Africa in the 1960s wanted to expand institutional and functional co-operation within the Francophone world. With their newly acquired freedom, independence, and equality, they wished to create new mechanisms of consultation, co-operation, and, whenever deemed appropriate, policy coordination at the political level. Such ideas were fostered by men like Léopold Senghor of Senegal, Hamani Diori of Niger, and Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia. Several African countries saw it as a way to expand their access to sources of development assistance, a mini-North-South dialogue (Canada 1988, 2).

La Francophonie as it is now known can be defined as the world community of French-speaking countries, or the collective unit formed by French-speaking people. In Francophonie: Purism at the International Level, Brian Weinstein describes it this way:

Francophonie is an international language movement led by government and nongovernment elites in over thirty countries where French is official or used by a significant population. The maintenance and extension of a standard spoken and written French language purified of unacceptable English language borrowings and local idiosyncrasies is one general goal. The other is the maintenance and extension of French as an official or co-official language (Weinstein 1989, 53).

Worldwide there are more than 150 million Francophones. Two of every three Francophones live outside of France, and in more than forty countries on five continents. La Francophonie "is a community, based on a common language, which believes in the unity and diversity of cultures" (Hamilton 1994, 21). It should come as no surprise that French has for some time been one of the most widely used languages in the world, and for a long time it was the only language of international diplomacy. It is used alongside English as a working language at the United Nations, the European Union and the Olympic Games. However, there is a great deal more to the Francophonie community than simply sharing a common language.

Leopold Sedar Senghor, the former president of Senegal, and one of the first leaders to push for summit meetings, said that French isn't just a practical common language for use in administration and education. Senghor defined the French language as "a way of thinking and of action: a certain way of asking the question and of finding solutions thanks to a language which contains all the richness of centuries" (Hamilton 1994, 21).

The French language is being used as a way to bring about a coming together, a sharing, and a collaboration that is strengthening those countries that have linguistic commonalties. As a result, people have an opportunity to come into contact with a huge array of cultural differences and diverse traditions, which fosters tolerance - something the world needs more of. As Staffan Zetterholm points out in the introduction of National Cultures & European Integration:

Cultural diversity implies different traditions for 'doing things,' different socio-economic and political models and formulas for regulating different domains of public or social life such as industrial relations, the welfare system and the banking system. These traditions differ as to the degree of public vs. private involvement, centralisation or decentralisation and bureaucratisation or emphasis of non-formal interpersonal ties. We often discuss the considerable difference between the French and British approach to administration, and the French formal legal tradition is contrasted with the more informal, pragmatic British approach...the greater the distance between the models of different countries and the more emotionally involved the populations are with their respective models, the more unlikely it is that a common policy on a supranational level can be established, accepted and implemented (Zetterholm 1994, 6-7).

True, La Francophonie is, first and foremost, the community of people who, in varying degrees, speak or use French domestically or internationally. But it is also a group of governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and associations involved in a variety of activities and areas of common interest to the members of the Francophonie community. Since the very first conference of Heads of State and Government of Countries Using French as a Common Language was held in Paris in 1986, La Francophonie has become a forum for political dialogue and exchange.

The nature of la Francophonie has also been influenced by the quest of leaders of Francophone countries for an organizational framework for its member states. As its heritage is more cultural than political in nature, la Francophonie is essentially a matter of values permeating a culture or of a language as a unifying force. French is not only the communication medium of la Francophonie, but its catalyst. La Francophonie is now a community of countries that base the pursuit of common objectives on the use of a common language (Canada 1988,2).

As an organization that mobilizes resources for cooperative activities among people who use French as a common language, it has increasingly become a forum where nations linked by the French language can work together towards common values, peace, justice, security, solidarity, democracy and the respect of human rights. Through its various organizations and associations, La Francophonie promotes the sharing of experience and ideas, and the implementation of common projects. Currently, La Francophonie is a forum for cooperation in nine technical fields that are considered priorities: agriculture, energy, environment, culture, communications, scientific and technological information, language industries, legal cooperation and education and training.

La Francophonie, conscious of the links that it creates between its members, hopes to use them for the attainment of peace, cooperation, and development through the introduction of democracy. By preventing conflicts and supporting humans right, and with the intensification of communication between different cultures and civilizations, La Francophonie believes it can raise the economies of its member states with the assistance of multilateral cooperation projects. However, La Francophonie respects the sovereignty of the states, the various languages within them, and their cultural realities, and therefore, retains a strict neutrality when it comes to questions of interior policy. In other words, it hopes to help the member states found under its umbrella through financial, ideological, and emotional assistance, not through dictatorial regimentation.

La Francophonie seeks to fulfil several objectives through its activities, including: the wider dissemination of the French language through the promotion of efforts to teach it as a second language; to apply new technology to increase the dissemination of French; and to encourage the use of French in international organizations, particularly through training programs for public servants, document translation, and interpretation. And certainly, the one overriding concern that can be found from Canada to France and all through La Francophonie states, the one reality that forms the underpinnings of so many problems for the French is the rapid increase in the use of English in international settings and organizations, and the corresponding decrease in the use of French.

In a series of reports conducted by S. Farandjis on the international situation of the French language in the 1980s some of the factors mentioned included (Ager 1990,111):

  1. Underrepresentation of French personnel in organizations such as the United Nations.
  2. Problems associated with the growing costs of translation services.
  3. The use of English by international scientists, including those in France itself, in the dissemination of their findings because they see it as the only way to participate in the international community in a speedy and efficient manner. (problems/costs associated with the dissemination of grey literature likely hinder the process as well.)
  4. The power and presence of the United States in international circles and organizations such as the International Bank and NATO.
  5. The increased use of English by foreign diplomats, who have historically used French in international meetings.

In Francophonie: Purism at the International Level, Brian Weinstein clarifies the issue of the United States:

Because America has a history since World War II of trying to dominate France politically; because of important economic rivalries between France on the one hand and the British and the Americans on the other in Africa, the Middle East and Asia; and because of the extraordinary attraction of American popular culture, English, the instrument of American politicians, business people and singers, is perceived as the great threat. Thus the struggle against English must be intensified (Weinstein 1989, 54-55).

Weinstein goes on to explain the findings of a 1982 report compiled by the Academy of Sciences, which focussed on three areas that threatened the French language:

  1. The weakening of French culture due to the scientific and cultural powerfulness of the United States.
  2. The internal threat to the language has been attributed to the laziness of the French themselves for not being more diligent when it comes to keeping the language pure of Anglicisms.
  3. And seen as the most serious of all is the explosion of English media communication systems, entertainment, and information in the coming years (Weinstein 1989, 56).

Membership in La Francophonie includes some of the world's wealthiest countries (France, Canada and Belgium) as well as some of the poorest (Niger, Haiti and Laos).

List of Member Countries of La Francophonie:

Associated States:

Participating Governments:


* Member countries of la Francophonie eligible for Official Development Assistance (ODA) from Canada

* * Member countries of la Francophonie eligible for Canadian Official Development Assistance to countries in transition in the Central and Eastern Europe

Structure and Organization: Summits, Agencies, Conferences, and Organizations

The Conference of the Heads of State and Government of the Countries having French in Common, hereafter called the Summit, is the supreme authority of La Francophonie, meeting every two years. It is chaired by the head of state or government of the country host of the Summit until the following Summit, and elects the Secretary General in accordance with the provisions of article six of the charter. Elected for four years by the heads of state and government, the Secretary General acts under the authority of the three main institutions of La Francophonie: the Summit, the Ministerial Conference, and the Permanent Council. In addition to chairing the Council, the secretary reports to the Summit.

The General Secretariat

One of the most significant reforms adopted at the Cotonou Summit was the establishment of the post of Secretary General. Elected for four years by the heads of state and government, the Secretary General acts under the authority of the three main institutions of La Francophonie: the Summit, the Ministerial Conference and the Permanent Council. In addition to chairing the Council, he acts as secretary of the three institutions and reports to the Summit.

The Secretary General is La Francophonie's international political spokesperson and official representative. In the event of an emergency, he can refer a crisis involving members of the organization to the Permanent Council and to the chairperson of the Ministerial Conference. The Secretary General is also the top official of the Agence de la Francophonie. In consultation with the agency's Principal Officer and the other recognized, direct operating agencies, he is responsible for proposing priority areas for multilateral Francophonie action. He is also responsible for organizing multilateral cooperation within La Francophonie and ensures the harmonization of the programs and activities of all operating agencies.

Ministerial Conferences

Since the Chaillot Summit in 1991, the yearly Ministerial Conferences (Conférences ministérielles de La Francophonie) have brought together the foreign ministers or ministers responsible for Francophone affairs of member countries. Participants at the Conference plan the Summit, ensure that the decisions made during the event are carried out, and launch any resulting initiatives. They are also responsible for recommending new members and observers to the Summit and for deciding the nature of their rights and obligations. The Conference appoints the Principal Officer of the Agence de la Francophonie upon the Secretary General's recommendation. The Ministerial Conference is chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs or the Minister responsible for Francophonie affairs of the country hosting the Summit, one year before and one year after the event.

The Ministerial Conference of Francophonie is composed of all the members of the Summit. The Foreign Minister or the minister in charge of Francophonie, or his delegate represents each member. In addition, it handles the financial reports and examines the budget estimates of the Agency, and those of the direct operators recognized by the Summits. The Conference meets once a year, but in the event of an emergency it can meet at any time or on the request of at least ten members. The decisions of the Ministerial Conference are made, if possible, by way of consensus.

In addition to these meetings, La Francophonie has two permanent information and cooperation structures at the ministerial level: CONFEMEN and CONFEJES.

Conference of Education Ministers of French-speaking Countries (CONFEMEN)

The education ministers' conference (Conférence des ministres de l'Éducation nationale des pays d'expression française - CONFEMEN) is the oldest official institution of La Francophonie. The purpose of CONFEMEN, a flexible and pragmatic institution, is to encourage cooperation and coordination in the area of education policies, and to conduct high-level discussions about the future of this sector. It brings together more than 35 member states and governments and meets every two years. Its permanent secretariat is in Dakar.

Canada joined CONFEMEN in 1969. Since education is a provincial matter, Quebec and New Brunswick are especially active during the meetings of this permanent conference. Ontario and Manitoba are also represented in the Canadian delegation.

Conference of Youth and Sports Ministers (CONFEJES)

Established in 1969 to allow member countries of La Francophonie to initiate policies for the development and protection of young people, the youth and sports ministers' conference (Conférence des ministres de la Jeunesse et des Sports - CONFEJES) brings together the representatives of more than 35 countries. As in the case of CONFEMEN, Quebec and New Brunswick are very active as participating governments during CONFEJES meetings, while Ontario and Manitoba are represented in the Canadian delegation.

Through its activities, CONFEJES seeks to create conditions that will foster the social and professional development of young people by establishing socio-educational structures and making sport a component of continuing education and social development. CONFEJES has access to various funds, including the Youth Development Fund (Fonds d'insertion des jeunes), managed in cooperation with the Agence de la Francophonie, and the Olympic Preparation Fund (Fonds français de préparation olympique). In addition, since Canada established it in 1975, the Canadian Scholarship Program (Programme de bourses canadiennes) has enabled more than 400 people to be trained as executives of youth and physical education associations.

CONFEJES is also responsible for the Francophone Games (Jeux de la Francophonie), an initiative based on a suggestion made at the Quebec Summit. The conference set up an international committee (Comité international des Jeux de la Francophonie), which is responsible for organizing the Games every four years.

Sectoral Ministerial Conferences

Sectoral ministerial conferences are convened periodically to discuss various areas of La Francophonie's multilateral cooperation. These ad hoc conferences are scheduled by the Summits with a view to developing action plans in specific sectors that reflect the concerns of the organization's members. For example, the Francophone ministers of the economy and finance met in Monaco in April 1999 to discuss trade and investment; two years earlier, the ministers responsible for the information highway met in Montreal.

Permanent Council of La Francophonie

Under the authority of the Ministerial Conference, the Permanent Council (Conseil permanent de la Francophonie) is responsible for planning the Summits. The Permanent Council consists of the personal representatives, or sherpas, of the heads of state or government participating in the Summit. The Council ensures that the decisions made by the Ministerial Conference are carried out, and acts as coordinator and mediator with respect to the political, economic and cooperation components of the institutions of La Francophonie.

In addition, it oversees three commissions: policy, economic, and cooperation. These commissions are chaired by a representative of a state or a government member and examine and approve projects, and carry out recommendations. The Council meets at least twice per annum, but its president can convene it at any time if needed or at the request of two thirds of the members, since it makes its decisions, if possible, by way of consensus. The Secretary General chairs the Permanent Council of La Francophonie.

Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie

The Parliamentary Assembly (Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, or APF), established at Luxembourg in 1967, was given consultative status (Assemblée consultative de la Francophonie) at the 1993 Mauritius Summit. It is involved in the work of the Summits, the Ministerial Conference and the Permanent Council on specific issues.

The APF was created at the request of countries like Canada, which wanted to increase La Francophonie's role while also highlighting their own cultural diversity. Today, the APF is comprised of 56 sections representing various legislative assemblies. Like the Canadian section, the Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario sections are autonomous. The Canadian senator Jean-Robert Gauthier chaired the APF from 1997 to 1999.

The APF's major areas of activity include the development of cooperation among the member states, and the strengthening of solidarity, democracy and human rights. These take the form of election monitoring missions, parliamentary seminars, and internships.

The Agency of Francophonie

Under the Charter of La Francophonie, the Agence de la Francophonie, the organization's sole intergovernmental body, is the main operating agency responsible for the cultural, scientific, technical, economic and legal cooperation programs. It is a forum for exchange and cooperation between member states and governments, a number of multilateral and regional cooperation organizations, and international NGOs, and organizes sectoral ministerial conferences. The Agence has six regional offices. The political offices in New York, Geneva and Brussels, come under the authority of the General Secretariat. The other three are under the authority of the agency itself, namely those in West Africa (Bureau régional de l'Afrique de l'Ouest [BRAO], based in Lomé, Togo); Central Africa (Bureau régional de l'Afrique centrale [BRAC], in Libreville, Gabon) and the Asia-Pacific region (Bureau régional Asie-Pacifique [BRAP], in Hanoi).

It is also the legal seat of the General Secretariat and is used by him as an administrative support. The agency also contributes to the development of the French language and to the promotion of the diverse languages and cultures of its members, while encouraging mutual understanding between them and La Francophonie. For this reason, it is a place of exchange and dialogue.

The Agency was founded on March 20, 1970, at Niamey, Niger. Today, the agency is managed by a Principal Officer appointed for four years by the Ministerial Conference upon the recommendation of the Secretary General. The current Principal Officer, Roger Dehaybe, a former senior official of Belgium's Communauté française, was appointed during the Ministerial Conference that followed the Hanoi Summit in November 1997.

The agency also supports education, teaching, technical, and professional training policies of the member states, and encourages the use of new communication technologies. It supports the member states in their efforts to institute democracy, development, progress, and economic advancement. The agency collaborates with the various international and regional organizations on the basis of recognized principles and multilateral forms of cooperation.

The Charter designates four additional organizations as recognized operating agencies, having an official mandate by La Francophonie authorities to conduct multilateral cooperation activities in specific areas:

1. L'Agence universitaire de La Francophonie (AUF): The Association of Partly or Wholly French-speaking Universities (Association des universités partiellement ou entièrement de langue française - AUPELF) was founded in 1961 at the initiative of Canadian Jean-Marc Léger. The association, known today as the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), has its headquarters in Montreal and encompasses most universities within the member states and entities of La Francophonie. The AUF's mandate is to contribute to Francophonie by strengthening a French-language scientific network formed by teachers, researchers and students. The AUF's major areas of intervention are research, teaching and training, including distance education and promotion of French. The AUF also promotes cooperation at the university level as part of an international fund (Fonds international de coopération universitaire - FICU), created through the support of governments, including that of Canada.

At the Quebec Summit, it was given the task of setting up a networking university (Université des réseaux d'expression française: UREF). This university, which has no actual physical location, seeks to link research resources and academics throughout the worldwide Francophone community. The AUF also administers the Secretariat of the Higher Education and Research Ministers' Conference (Conference des ministres francophones de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche: CONFEMER), which meets every two years. The AUF encompasses nearly 400 post-secondary institutions, institutes of higher learning and international conferences of deans and heads of university institutions, as well as more than 300 departments of French and Francophone studies.

2. TV5 is the international Francophonie television network. The partners involved in TV5 are Canada, Quebec, France, Switzerland, the French community in Belgium, along with a number of African countries, including Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal. TV5 is one of the largest television networks in the world and is an extraordinary communications tool that can reach almost 100 million households in more than one hundred countries on every continent. Considered one of the greatest accomplishments of La Francophonie, TV5 is Canada's only real international television link, and is a favoured vehicle through which Canada can promote the values it considers important, such as respect for basic human rights, gender equality, a commitment to democracy and a recognition of multiculturalism. TV5 provides an exceptional showcase for distributing Canadian television, film and cultural products, which make up between 13 and 25 percent of the network's programming, giving Canadian television audiences access to unique programming consisting of broadcasts from partner countries. The Montreal-based Consortium de télévision Canada-Québec is responsible for managing TV5.

3. Université Senghor in Alexandria was created in 1990 following the Dakar Summit. Université Senghor is a private post-graduate institution that teaches managers and high-level trainers in areas that are considered a priority for the development of Francophonie Africa. Initially, the university had two departments: Health and Nutrition, and Management and Administration. Canada has sponsored the development of an Environmental Management department and borne the cost of sending experts and teachers from the Université du Québec à Montréal. A fourth department, Cultural Heritage Management, was recently established.

4. The Association of Mayors and Officials of Partly or Wholly French-speaking Capital Cities and Metropolises (Association internationale des maires et responsables des capitales et métropoles partiellement ou entièrement francophones: AIMF). AIMF is La Francophonie's operating agency for urban development, and includes more than 90 members in over 40 countries or entities. The goal of AIMF is to establish close cooperation in all areas of municipal activity, and has a number of tools available to carry out its projects, including the funds it receives from La Francophonie as an operating agency. Over the past few years, AIMF has focused its assistance on urban development, helping cities to modernize, and supporting education, training and cultural development. In Canada, Hull, Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec City are members of the association.

Non-governmental Organizations

Most associations within La Francophonie were established with a common objective in mind or to fulfil a specific professional role. The widely diverse nature and vast number of programs and activities of these bodies make La Francophonie a multifaceted organization, able to operate far beyond the confines of government action. Francophonie NGOs promote La Francophonie's role worldwide.

La Francophonie grew internationally out of many non-governmental francophone associations, some of which date back 40 years. Most of them had a professional base, such as the International Association of French-speaking Parliamentarians, the Institute of Freedom of Expression in French, and the World Association of French-speaking Physicians. The wide diversity of fields in which these organizations are involved, coupled with the multitude of programs and activities initiated by them, adds a significant dimension that takes La Francophonie far beyond the government sector, making it even more dynamic.

Every two years, the Secretary General of La Francophonie convenes a conference of the nongovernmental international organizations, in accordance with the conditions, principles and methods defined in the directives adopted by the Ministerial Conference. This conference informs the organizations on the orientations and programs initiated or terminated by the Summit; identifies the organizations likely to contribute to the implementation of programs; holds consultations in order to obtain opinions and suggestions concerning the broad outline of the programming; and supports cooperation between the organizations having common interests.

Following the first conference of Francophone international NGOs in Paris in 1994, the Permanent Council identified a number of organizations that contribute usefully to the development of La Francophonie. In Canada in Action, the author points out that:

The international organizations of La Francophonie bring people together so they can discuss issues of common interest. They support co-operation between governments and between non-governmental associations. Because the majority of members of La Francophonie are developing nations, many activities are designed to encourage economic development (Hamilton 1994, 14).

In 1996, the Permanent Council accredited approximately twenty Francophonie international NGOs, including the following:

National francophone associations in each country have demonstrated a strong vitality since the 1950s and have made a considerable contribution to cooperation among francophone countries. In fact, it was these private associations which laid the foundations of today's intergovernmental francophone cooperation and currently give La Francophonie such a broad outlook. This is true of the work performed by organizations such as the Association of Universities Operating Fully or Partly in French, the International Union of French-Language Journalists and Press, the Association of French-Language Writers, and the World Association of Francophone Doctors.

Many Canadian NGOs, including the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadiennes (Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities), the Société nationale de l'Acadie (National Society of Acadia), the Paul-Gérin-Lajoie Foundation, and the Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario (French-Canadian Association of Ontario) are active within the international Francophone community. Conversely, many international Francophonie NGOs are present in Canada. In particular, the Richelieu International Club and the Conseil francophone de la chanson (Francophone Council of Songs and Singing) are very active in this country. As Brian Weinstein explains in Francophonie: Purism at the International Level:

The nongovernmental organizations took on an increasing importance as their members proposed terms to replace English terms at the same time as they promoted cooperation of a non-linguistic nature. The Conseil International de la Langue Francaise proposed terms and gave linguist members encouragement to put pressure on their governments for language legislation. AUPELF (Association of Universities Partially or Entirely of French Language), founded by Quebecois, linked universities around the world and provided a framework for the standardization of programs in French and French literature efforts to produce textbooks in areas where dependence on English was particularly acute and for efforts to encourage student exchanges (Weinstein 1989, 60).

A Brief History of the Summits

The idea of holding a summit meeting of Francophone heads of state and government took shape long before the first meeting was held in Paris in 1986 under the auspices of France. President Léopold Senghor of Senegal was among the first summit promoters in the early 1960s. Presidents Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, Ould Daddah of Mauritania, Hamani Diori of Niger, and Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia then took up the idea.

Quebec's goal at the time was to use the Francophone Summit to foster its quest for international recognition and status while participating in the major cultural and other common endeavors in la Francophone countries. Quebec wanted a summit to focus on issues within its constitutional prerogatives in the fields of language and culture. As far as Canada was concerned, the federal government had always been convinced that regular multilateral consultations at the highest level would ensure that all its individual endeavors in la Francophonie would benefit from a common political will...Canada wanted a summit that would have a strong political dimension and a macro-economic component in addition to an examination of cultural co-operation and development issues. In the end, this was the formula agreed to for the Paris Summit (Canada 1988,2).

The Summit, the highest authority in La Francophonie, is held every two years. The head of state or government of the host country, who assumes that responsibility until the next Summit, chairs it. The Conseil Permanent de la Francophonie (CPF) is responsible for preparing the Francophone Summits. The personal representatives of fifteen heads of state or government head it. The Conférence Ministérielle de la Francophonie (CMF), comprising ministers of Foreign Affairs and La Francophonie, is responsible for the follow-up of the summits, whose chairmanship is held by the host-country of the meeting.

By enabling the heads of state and government to hold a dialogue on all international issues of the day, the Summit serves to define the policies and goals of La Francophonie so as to ensure the organization's influence on the world scene. The development of La Francophonie as an institution stems from the first Francophonie Summit, which was a gathering of heads of state and government of French-speaking countries, held in Versailles in 1986. Since then seven Francophonie Summits have been held: Quebec (1987), Dakar (1989), Chaillot (1991), Mauritius (1993), Cotonou (1995), Hanoi (1997), with the most recent being in New Brunswick (1999).

These summits have changed the landscape of La Francophonie. By helping it grow beyond its traditional function as a promoter of linguistics and culture, which has traditionally included looking at issues of French in the world, African languages, the role of French in international organizations, and language planning, it has become a forum to promote cooperation in key areas. Now the summits discuss major international political and economic matters, and organize cooperative programs in a range of fields, such as agriculture, energy, culture, as well as the dissemination of scientific and technical information. When talking about community and what it actually takes to form and sustain one, is it likely that a common language would be enough? As Dennis Ager points out in Sociolinguistics and Contemporary French:

All those who speak the same language form a language community, but many of those included in this definition feel they belong to a community which differs radically from that of the Parisian native speaker: the African or Algerian, the inhabitant of New Caledonia, of Switzerland or Belgium, the second-generation Tunisian or Portuguese immigrant in Marseille differ in their political, cultural and economic traditions, their history and interests. Is language alone therefore a sufficient link to form a community? (Ager 1990,5).

Since Canada and Quebec first insisted upon more of a political dimension to the meetings, one wonders how much this contributed to the development and sustainability that La Francophonie has enjoyed. Currently, there has been a push for more of an economic aspect between member states, more than one that sees aid money being sent to help out the poorer countries of the organization. As Ager discusses, it is when there are more 'common meanings,' whether they be social, historical, cultural, economic, political, that community really solidifies (Ager 1990, 5). When face-to-face interaction takes places, such as what happens at the Summits, and when common attitudes are agreed upon when it comes to language use and linguistical preferences, it is then that a sense of community can really begin to take root.

The Summits: Up Close and Personal

Paris Summit
February 17-19, 1986

Forty-one countries and governments were represented at the first Summit, which took place in the Château de Versailles. The conference marked a new departure for the organization, by establishing ongoing consultations on major issues of the day. It also provided an opportunity to confirm the role of the French language as a modern tool for progress and intercultural dialogue. Finally, it sought to convey Francophonie solidarity through concrete programs, and established Comité de suivi, an informal consultative body to be responsible for following up on Summit decisions.

Quebec Summit
September 2-4, 1987

During the Quebec Summit more progress was made in the areas of cooperation and the strengthening of solidarity among the Paris Summit participating countries and governments. La Francophonie's priority areas were confirmed as agriculture, energy, scientific and technological development, language, communication and culture. The Energy Institute (Institut de l'énergie des pays francophones) was created during the Quebec Summit.

Dakar Summit
May 24-26, 1989

The Dakar Summit strengthened the organization by reaching into new areas of activity, including education and training, the environment, and legal and judicial cooperation. It confirmed the role of the ACCT as the principal operating agency and the key instrument of La Francophonie as a multilateral organization. During this summit, President François Mitterrand announced the cancellation of the debt of thirty-five African countries to France.

Chaillot Summit
November 19-21, 1991

According to President Mitterrand, host of the Chaillot Summit, this conference marked both the coming of age and an expansion of La Francophonie. Nearly 50 countries and governments were represented at the event, from all five continents. At the time, the Ministerial Conference and the Permanent Council were created, and the role of the ACCT as the secretariat of all the institutions of the organization was confirmed.

Mauritius Summit
October 16-18, 1993

At Mauritius, the participants decided that the summits would be known as Conferences of Heads of State and Government of Countries Using French as a Common Language. This gesture meant to reaffirm their membership in the Francophonie family while respecting member diversity. The summit participants also recognized the importance of economic issues, calling for increased cooperation between Francophonie business communities.

Cotonou Summit
December 2-4, 1995

The Cotonou Summit led to a profound change in La Francophonie. The new institutions created at this conference were intended to ensure that the organization could exert political influence in the future. The General Secretariat was established and the appointment of a Secretary General discussed. The ACCT became the Agence de la Francophonie, and the position of Principal Officer was established to manage it. At Cotonou, the heads of state and government decided to concentrate the operating agencies' activities on the five major cooperation programs of La Francophonie: Freedom, Democracy and Development; Culture and Communication; Knowledge and Progress; Economy and Development within La Francophonie; and La Francophonie around the World. Since then, the cooperative activities of La Francophonie operating agencies must be planned as part of these five program areas, which act as focal points for the priorities adopted at the Summits. This ensures that a greater synergy exists among the activities of the operating agencies as well as with bilateral cooperation agencies, and other multilateral organizations.

The topic of the Francophonie information highway and new technologies was also introduced at the Cotonou Summit. To recognize this sector's importance, a conference bringing together Francophonie ministers responsible for the information highway was held in Montreal in May 1997. The topic was later discussed at the Hanoi Summit (1997) and was a very important part of the agenda at the Moncton Summit.

Hanoi Summit
November 14-17, 1997

The Hanoi Summit represented another important step in the development of the Francophonie institutions: the revised charter was implemented and the first Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, was appointed. The Secretary General's mandate was to make La Francophonie a more dynamic and active force in the international arena. Although the Summit's main theme was economic cooperation, the heads of state and government also agreed to focus their efforts on peace and the prevention of conflicts in member countries. In addition, they resolved to cooperate with the international community in protecting human rights. The Hanoi Summit decided to continue the program that supports the development of small and medium-size agri-food enterprises established in 1990. Through this program, which is supported by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, developing countries can use the technical services of the Food Research and Development Centre (CRDA) in Saint-Hyacinthe to produce and market local products in compliance with health requirements and in the context of domestic and international markets.

Since the Hanoi Summit, Canada has pursued certain projects such as FrancoNet, which seeks to increase Internet access in Francophonie countries. In general, Canada's action is aimed at facilitating the application of new technology in a large number of areas in which La Francophonie is involved, such as the preservation and development of democracy and human rights, the economy, and the world of communication. Following a decision made at the Hanoi Summit, a conference of ministers of the economy and finance was held in Monaco on April 14-15, 1999 to deal with trade and investment. The declaration adopted by the ministers covers a number of current economic issues, including reform of the international financial system, the debt problem, and the upcoming trade negotiations. It also invited member countries to strengthen their cooperative linkages to deal with the challenges arising from globalization and improve the development prospects of all countries, especially the most vulnerable.

Moncton Summit
September 3-5, 1999

Canada, a member state of La Francophonie, and New Brunswick, a participating government in the organization, hosted the eighth Francophonie Summit. Representatives of the 52 participating states and governments were invited to attend. To highlight the key contribution of young people to the future of La Francophonie and of the world in general, the Summit's main theme was Youth, with the economy and new technologies seen as secondary themes.


Publications found on the OIF site,

Missions d'observations d'élections:

Bénin: élections législatives (30 mars 1999) 31 pages, format PDF, 108ko

Burkina Faso: élections présidentielles (15 novembre 1998) 21 pages, format PDF, 62 ko

Cambodge: élections législatives (26 juillet 1998) 38 pages, format PDF, 122 ko

Djibouti: élections présidentielles (9 avril 1999) 20 pages, format PDF, 69 ko

Gabon: élections présidentielles (6 décembre 1998) 25 pages, format PDF, 75 ko

Guinée Equatoriale: élections législatives (7 mars 1999) 14 pages, format PDF, 43 ko

Nigéria: élections présidentielles (27 février 1999) 30 pages, format PDF, 98 ko

République Centrafricaine: élections législatives (22 novembre et 13 décembre 98) 57 pages, format PDF, 159 ko

Seychelles: élections présidentielles et législatives (20-22 mars 1998) 26 pages, format PDF, 85 ko

Togo: élections présidentielles (21 juin 1998) 43 pages, format PDF, 125 ko

Missions d'information et de contacts:

Niger: élections locales (7 février 1999) 36 pages, format PDF, 110 ko

Textes officiels de la francophonie,

Sommets francophones,

Conférences ministérielles de la francophonie,

Conseils permanents de la francophonie,

Conférences générales, et Conseils d'administration de l'Agence,

Conférences ministérielles sectorielles organisées par l'Agence,

Comités du Programme spécial de développement de l'Agence,

Lettre de la francophonie

- n° 1 à 106 (juin 1990 à décembre 1997): recherche dans la base Lettre (

- n° 88 à 105 (janvier 1996 à octobre 1997): consultation en format html ou PDF. (

Publications of the Intergovernmental Agency of la Francophonie

Le Journal de l'Agence intergouvernementale de la Francophonie is published every two months and provides information on the Agency's activities. Networks of corresponding journalists in the member states supply the headlines and stories,

L'Écluse is a periodical of the Banque internationale d'information sur les États francophones, or BIEF

(Banque internationale d'information sur les États francophones (BIEF),

The Banque internationale d'information sur les États francophones, or BIEF as it is familiarly known by its acronym, is a program of the Agence intergouvernementale de la francophonie (ACCT). The Department of Heritage Canada oversees the program. BIEF is a network of focal points in 52 member states of la Francophonie hosted by national libraries and archives. The mandate is implementation and upgrading of national information policies, systems and institutions especially in developing countries; conservation, preservation and access to national heritage collections; a francophone information highway interconnecting with Internet; free flow of information; training for information specialists; and publications, printed and electronic.)

IEPF is a periodical of the Institute of the Energy and the Environment of Francophonie,

Liaison Francophone is a daily newsletter on the topic of information highways and Francophonie,

Echoweb is a semi-monthly published by the French-speaking Gateway Office of Documentation and Information,

Nouvelles de la formation à distance is a newsletter on distance learning,

*The bibliographical database KORACCT collects the 3000 publications and documents produced by the Agency of Francophonie. Reports/ratios, periodicals, minutes of meetings, scientific and literary works, repertories, textbooks, and audio-visual documents reflect the topics of intervention of the Agency since its creation in 1970. Summaries supplement the majority of the references.

Other bibliographic databases available include:

KORA: 32000 bibliographical references of works and articles of selected periodicals,

BALAPHON: collection of periodicals received in CIDFI - 750 titles,

MANUELS: textbooks published with the support of the Agency - 250 titles

Cédéroms: La base de données CÉDÉROMS recense la collection de disques optiques compacts reçus au CIFDI,

BIDA: International bibliography of African Rights,

Publications de l'Agence de la Francophonie: Comprendre la Francophonie en 25 livres! (janvier 2000)

Some Examples

MWOROHA, Emile; AGENCE DE COOPERATION CULTURELLE ET TECHNIQUE. Paris - ACCT 1970-1995: 25 ans au service du développement et de la coopération francophone. - Paris: ACCT, 1995.- 239 p.

AGENCE DE LA FRANCOPHONIE. Paris.- Quelle francophonie pour le XXIe siècle?: 2° Prix international de la Francophonie Charles-Hélou. - Paris: Karthala: ACCT, 1997.- 290 p.

JOUBERT Jean-Louis (Dir.).- Littérature francophone anthologie.- Paris: Agence de coopération culturelle et technique, Nathan, 1992.- 447 p.

Autres éditions

ALBERT Christiane (Dir.).- Francophonie et identités culturelles. - Paris: Karthala, 1999.- 338 p.- (Lettres du Sud.)

BARRAT Jacques (Dir.).- Géopolitique de la francophonie. - Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1997.- 184 p- (Politique d'aujourd'hui.)

BRINCOURT André.- Langue française terre d'accueil. - Paris: Ed. du Rocher, 1997.- 252 p.

CHAUPRADE Aymeric.- L'Espace économique francophone: pour une francophonie intégrale. - Paris: Ellipses, 1996.- 158 p.

DEPECKER Loïc.- Guide des mots francophones: le ziboulateur enchanté. - Paris: Ed. du Seuil, 1999.- 188 p.

FARANDJIS Stélio.- Philosophie de la francophonie: contribution au débat. - Paris: Haut Conseil de la Francophonie: L'Harmattan, 1999.- 216 p.- (Les Cahiers de la Francophonie; 7, 1999.)

GALLET Dominique.- Pour une ambition francophone: le désir et l'indifférence. - Paris: L'Harmattan, 1995.- 167 p.

GONTARD Marc (Dir.), BRAY Maryse (Dir.).- Regards sur la francophonie. - Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes: Centre d'études des littératures et civilisations francophones, 1996.- 322 p.- (Plurial; 6.)

HAUT CONSEIL DE LA FRANCOPHONIE. Paris.- Etat de la francophonie dans le monde: données 1997-1998 et 6 études inédites. - Paris: La Documentation française, 1998.- 610 p..- Document disponible sur Internet

PONTAULT Monique (Coord.); HAUT CONSEIL DE LA FRANCOPHONIE. Paris.- Tourisme et Francophonie. - Paris: HCF: L'Harmattan, 1999.- 208 p. - (Les Cahiers de la Francophonie; 6, 1999.)

LE MARCHAND Véronique.- La Francophonie. - Toulouse: Ed. Milan, 1999.- 63 p.- (Les essentiels Milan.)

LE SCOUARNEC François-Pierre.- La Francophonie. - Montréal: Ed. du Boréal, 1997.- 125 p.- (Boréal express.)

MASSART-PIERARD Françoise.- La Francophonie internationale. - Bruxelles: Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques, 1999.- 47 p.- (Courrier hebdomadaire; 1655, 1999.)

MASSART-PIERARD Françoise, MARON Fabienne (Collab.).- La Francophonie internationale: bibliographie thématique. - Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgique): Unité des relations internationales de l'Université catholique de Louvain, 1997.- 78 p.- (Notes et études de l'Unité des relations internationales; 9,1997) MENDO ZE Gervais (Dir.).- Le Français langue africaine: enjeux et atouts pour la francophonie. - Paris: Publisud, 1999.- 383 p.- (Traverses des espaces francophones.)

Prismes nationaux de la francophonie. - Montréal: Société québécoise de science politique, 1997.- 186 p.- (Politique et sociétés; 16 (1), 1997.)

ROBILLARD Didier de (Dir.), BENIAMINO Michel (Dir.), BAVOUX Claudine (Collab.).- Le Français dans l'espace francophone: description linguistique et sociolinguistique de la francophonie: 2 tomes. - Paris: Honoré Champion éditeur, 1993 - 1996.- 534 p.+ 964 p.- (Politique linguistique; 3 et 6.)

SACHS F. - La Défense de la Francophonie et de la langue française sur Internet. - Paris: Université de Paris III, 1998.- 80 p. - (Mémoire de DEA de Didactologie des langues et des cultures. Paris; septembre 1998.).- Document disponible sur Internet

TETU Michel.- Qu'est-ce que la francophonie? - Vanves: Hachette - Edicef. - Sainte-Foy (Québec): L'Année francophone internationale, 1997.- 317 p.

TRAISNEL Christophe.- Francophonie, francophonisme: groupe d'aspiration et formes d'engagement. - Paris: Ed. Panthéon Assas: Librairie générale de droit et de jurisprudence, 1998.- 220 p.- (Science politique.)

WALTER Henriette.- Le Français d'ici, de là, de là-bas. - Paris: Ed. Jean-Claude Lattès, 1998.- 416 p.

Also see:

Publications de l'Assemblee parlementaire de la Francophonie can be found at:

Centre international pour le développement de l'inforoute en français (CIDIF): serving the French-speaking world,

CIDIF is a non-profit organization dedicated to monitoring and promoting the development of Internet technologies, and to disseminating related strategic information. CIDIF has been serving the interests of La Francophonie since 1996. For the French-speaking countries of the world, the development of the Internet poses critical challenges in such areas as education, language and culture, among many others. On the threshold of the 21st century, the Internet is one of the essential tools for ensuring the development and expansion of French-language culture throughout the world. CIDIF strives to make French-speaking nations aware of how important it is for them to take an active role in the development of the information highway.

CIDIF collects and distributes information and publications related to La Francophonie. Besides making information available to the French community, CIDIF also publishes information connected with its own organization. Here are the bulk of them:

Les inforoutes dans l'espace francophone,

Les inforoutes dans l'espace francophone is an exhaustive survey and progress report produced by CIDIF in cooperation with the Agence de la Francophonie. It is intended as a decision-making tool to support multilateral cooperation among French-speaking countries. It surveys 52 states and governments, offering for each a geopolitical and geodocumentary profile, a report on telecommunications infrastructure, a summary of its government's Internet policy, and a list of Internet-development projects currently under way. To complement this document, CIDIF carries out a variety of studies and statistical analyses, and offers an on-going series of technology briefings.

Nouvelles du CIDIF,

Nouvelles du CIDIF est un bulletin mensuel consacré aux activités du Centre international pour le développement de l'inforoute en français. Nous livrons ici le contenu des plus récents numéros en formats HTML et PDF. Pour lire la version PDF, il vous faut le module Acrobat Reader, dont vous pouvez télécharger la version française gratuitement à partir de notre Boîte à outils.

Articles et communications,

Voici un recueil partiel des publications du Centre international pour le développement de l'inforoute en français et des membres de son équipe. Ces textes ont été présentés ou publiés dans des contextes variés, comme des colloques, des conférences et des revues d'envergure nationale ou internationale. An example:

Francophonie et Internet: état des lieux (Format PDF - 607 Ko) Présentation de René Morin au colloque "Multimédia et apprentissage du français langue étrangère et/ou seconde: de l'expérimentation à la réalité dans l'espace francophone", Université de Toulouse - Le Mirail (Toulouse II). (HTML, Animation PowerPoint - 607 Ko)

Liste des 344 périodiques reçus au CIFDI

Avec ces 344 périodiques reçus actuellement au CIFDI, 370 autres collections sont disponibles: il s'agit des revues ayant cessé de paraître ou des collections interrompues. La fonction Rechercher permet d'accéder à la totalité de la base de données. De plus, le CIFDI répertorie les médias francophones sur la toile.


Ibiscus: publishes information on developing countries. It is jointly published by Ibiscus and the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF). - includes more than 100 000 references with summaries on the economic and social development of the countries of the South sent by all the partners of the Ibiscus network.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Clubs, Democracy, and the Commonwealth

Since the advent of the Francophonie Summits in 1986, a political will has emerged in the organization. During a conference of ministers responsible for La Francophonie in Marrakech in 1996, the Francophonie charter was adopted, and has given the organization's institutional system the legal underpinning it did not have in the past. The role of the Agence de la Francophonie as the only intergovernmental operating agency of La Francophonie was confirmed. It took form at the Hanoi Summit in November 1997 with the appointment of Boutros Boutros-Ghali as the first Secretary General. He serves as political spokesperson for and official representative of the international francophone community.

The Secretary General's mandate is to make La Francophonie a more dynamic and active force in the international arena, reinforcing the organization's determination to play more of a political role, while raising the prestige of the institution. In the Afrique Tribune (March 14-27, 1997), then Canadian Minister for International Cooperation and Minister Responsible for Francophonie, Don Boudria, was interviewed on the new developments. Boudria pointed out that Francophonie is a very young institution when compared with the OECD, the Commonwealth or the United Nations. The organization was initially dedicated to the promotion of French cultural and linguistic purism, but with the new Secretary General, La Francophonie will be transformed into an active international organization that fights for democracy and more equitable economic realities for its member states. The Secretary General will have a significant cabinet, with special advisers in various fields.

Who is Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and how does his background help or hinder his position as first Secretary General of La Francophonie?

He was born into a wealthy and politically prominent family in Cairo, Egypt in 1922, and was educated in French schools, speaking both French and Arabic at home. After completing a law degree at Cairo University in 1946, he went on to spend many years in Paris studying public law, economics, and receiving his Ph.D. in political science in 1949 (Spencer 1993,85). As Samia I. Spencer writes,

This education, combined with the cosmopolitan environment in which he was raised, during some of the most turbulent decades of the twentieth century, has significantly enriched his identity and broadened his vision. By birth, he was African, a Mediterranean, and a Christian who grew up in an Arab Islamic country; intellectually, he was a Francophone. This diversity taught him understanding, tolerance, and the art of dialogue and compromise, and strengthened his commitment to world peace (Spencer 1993,85).

Boutros Boutros-Ghali has had a long association with international affairs as a diplomat, jurist, scholar and widely published author, many of his books having been published in French. He was the 6th Secretary General of the United Nations between 1992 and 1996. Before his appointment by the General Assembly of the UN, he had been Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Egypt from 1977-1991.

In his capacity as Egypt's second-ranking diplomat, he was entrusted with numerous important missions, most of them designed to strengthen the bonds with African and Francophone nations, as well as with developed and developing countries (Spencer 1993,87).

Boutros-Ghali attended the Camp David Summit Conference in September 1978 and had a role in negotiating the Camp David peace accord between Egypt and Israel, which was signed in 1979. Between 1949 and 1977, he was Professor of International Law and International Relations at Cairo University, eventually becoming head of the political science department. From 1974 to 1977, he was a member of the Central Committee and Political Bureau of the Arab Socialist Union. In addition, he was a member of the International Law Commission from 1979 until 1991, and is a former member of the International Commission of Jurists, the Institute of International Law, the International Institute of Human Rights, the African Society of Political Studies and the Académie des sciences morales et politiques.

Over four decades, Boutros-Ghali participated in numerous conferences dealing with international law, human rights, economic and social development, decolonization, the Middle East question, international humanitarian law, the rights of ethnic and other minorities, and world peace.

Boutros-Ghali also founded the publication Alahram Iqtisadi, which he edited for fifteen years, and the quarterly Al-Seyassa Al-Dawlia, which he edited until 1991. He is the author of Egypt's Road to Jerusalem: A Diplomat's Story of the Struggle for Peace in the Middle East published in 1997 by Random House. This book is a personal recollection of his years as Egypt's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Other notable publications by Boutros-Ghali are: Unvanquished: A U.S.- U.N. Saga, 1999; Visions: Fifty Years of the United Nations, 1995; Agenda for the Development, 1996; and Agenda for Peace, 1995.

An article in Le Devoir entitled: Boutros Boutros-Ghali: Francophonie, médiateur pour la paix et la démocratie by Michel Venne (August 28, 1999) also explored some of the ramifications of the appointment. Venne writes that Boutros-Ghali has affirmed a place for La Francophonie and has earned recognition for it by other international organizations. This is evidenced in part by La Francophonie being invited to the last meeting of the Organization for the African Unit (OAU) and the Arab League, and in particular, by the fact that it is currently discussing international questions of peace, democracy and good governance with many organizations around the world. La Francophonie has organized joint missions with the Arab League to observe elections in Djibouti, and with the OAU, in Togo. In addition, Boutros-Ghali has developed cooperation agreements with the United Nations and the Commonwealth for agricultural development on behalf of member states. What is the relationship between La Francophonie and the Commonwealth?

In many ways, they are parallel organizations based on culture and language: both are voluntary bodies, and both "have their origins in the winding down of Empires, British and French" (Bostock 1986,100). Although both have had problems with issues of racism, the Commonwealth has experienced greater difficulties due in large part to South Africa (Bostock 1986,100). But as Dennis Ager points out in Francophonie in the 1990s: Problems and Opportunities:

The role of the cultural identity conveyed by language is, for many, central to Francophonie and distinguishes it fundamentally from the British Commonwealth, the European Community, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for African Unity, the League of Arab States and many other international groupings (Ager 1996,57).

Overall, the relationship between the Commonwealth and La Francophonie is a collaborative one. A formal framework for cooperation exists between the two organizations in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in June 1992. The Commonwealth has 54 member states, which have a total population of 1.7 billion, while La Francophonie, with a total population of 560 million, has 51 member states and four observers under its umbrella. Cameroon, Canada, Dominica, Mauritius, Seychelles and Vanuatu are members of both organizations. St Lucia is a full member of the Commonwealth and an associate member of La Francophonie.

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of diverse, independent states, consulting through a largely informal network of governmental and non-governmental links. Queen Elizabeth II is also the queen of Canada, monarch of fourteen other domains among the 54 Commonwealth member countries, and head of the Commonwealth. She is present at all summits, but does not attend meetings.

The modern Commonwealth gradually evolved out of the United Kingdom's imperialistic exploitations, and through decolonization. The aftermath of two world wars, and changing patterns of international relations had roles to play in its development as well. Currently, it helps to advance democracy, human rights, women's equality, environmental protection, and sustainable economic and social development within its member countries. Member countries benefit from the support of a large network of private, voluntary and professional organizations, including universities, parliamentarians, legal, medical and other professions, and media and sports organizations.

The transformation from an imperialistic overlord to humanitarian advocate is due in large part to the 1991 Harare Commonwealth Declaration, which set the association firmly on a new course for a new century. As part of the Harare priorities, the Commonwealth provides assistance to countries in transition to democracy by helping to draft legislation, review and amend electoral procedures, and otherwise create the framework for democracy to take root. From a club of former colonies, it has grown into a modern international association that responds to the needs of its members and their future challenges. Until Boutros-Ghali's appointment, La Francophonie was also perceived by many as a club, dedicated to cultural and linguistic promotion, and nothing much else. La Francophonie was seen by many as a self-serving infrastructure for small groups of people, such as those interested in preserving the purism of the French language for indulged elitists, and as a vehicle to keep France's finger in Africa.

At the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Thirtieth Session held in Rome, November 12-23, 1999, Boutros Boutros-Ghali made an address entitled Democracy in the Age of Globalization. His remarks make it clear that La Francophonie has interests and goals that are similar to the Commonwealth group of nations, and those of the United Nations. La Francophonie has come of age! Here is some of what he had to say:

It therefore seems important to me, given the new perspectives of international life, to begin not only by promoting the democratic idea but also by conceiving of it in global terms. We need to clearly understand that if it is to have any real meaning, democracy must be exercised in all areas where there is authority: at national level, of course, but also at international level and now at transnational level.

I am convinced that there can be no international democratization, no effective solidarity so long as certain States continue to opt for a policy of no change. But, as I said, this move towards democratization needs to go further. It also requires the involvement of the private sector. In this connection, the transnational corporation is now a fundamental global power and, as such, should be more closely involved in international decision-making. Transnational corporations must therefore be involved in the democratization process so that they are seen not as predators that would relish the shortcomings of the international social order, but, rather, as practitioners of development and of the fundamental elements of social integration.

This involvement of the business sector in establishing a new transnational social order is all the more important given that the weakened means of government control, the increasing irrelevance of territorial boundaries and the dissipation of national economic interests require the invention of new rules and new practices to apply to competition.

I should like finally to stress the importance that I attach to the role of the non-governmental organizations in the process of democratization of global society. If we are to build an open and vibrant democracy, we need to take into account not only the wishes of the political activists and the behaviour of the economic operators, but also the aspirations of the social and cultural players. The non-governmental organizations play a key role in representing contemporary society. And their participation in international organizations offers a form of guarantee of the political legitimacy of these organizations. NGOs are mushrooming on all continents, from 1 300 in 1960 to over 36 000 in 1996. Only a few weeks ago, they held an international conference in Seoul. This trend is symptomatic of the aspiration to freedom and democracy that - today and in different forms - motivates international society.

With this in mind, we also need the involvement of international public opinion and the capacity of the media to sensitize, inform and mobilize. In outlining what I see as a new social and democratic order for today's global society, I am well aware that I am looking largely to the future. But I am convinced that societies are based, legitimized, structured and governed by ethical values as much as by economic realities. Perhaps more than anything else, the international community is primarily a society with an end in view. It needs to be based on a democratic and universal perception of the future to be able to go on growing and moving forward.

That, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen is what I wished to say to you today. I am particularly pleased to be able to convey my thoughts to you here in FAO as we share the same objectives; as we share the same desire for cooperation, as witnessed by the agreement recently signed between FAO and the International Organization of French-Speaking Countries and Regions; and as we know that peace is not only a political issue but is also a matter of economic development. Everyone needs to clearly realize that underdevelopment is a cause of political discontent. Let us state quite clearly: Hunger is as unacceptable as war. And it is only by mobilizing everyone - world organizations and regional organizations - that we shall be able to move forward towards that world of our ideals and of our ambitions.

Examples of common interests between La Francophonie and the Commonwealth: (from the Commonwealth Secretariat found on the Commonwealth website 20 January 2000)

1. A team of nine observers from the Commonwealth and La Francophonie were present in Seychelles for the Presidential and National Assembly elections, held March 20-22, 1998. This was the first time that the Commonwealth and La Francophonie sent a joint observer mission to elections in a country, which is a member of both organizations. This first joint mission by the Commonwealth and La Francophonie reflected a new spirit of cooperation between the two organizations in areas of common interest, although the two organizations worked closely when they both observed Parliamentary elections in Cameroon in May 1997. A joint assessment mission from the Commonwealth Secretariat and L'Agence de la Francophonie, which visited Seychelles in February 1998, established that there was widespread support for a joint observer group presence during the elections.

2. Commonwealth Secretary General attends celebration of La Francophonie Day in Paris

The Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, attended the celebrations for International Day of La Francophonie in Paris on March 20, 1998 at the invitation of Boutros Boutros-Ghali. It was the first time that the Secretary General of the Commonwealth had been invited to such an event. He made an address and attended a reception hosted by Jacques Chirac, President of the Republic of France. The attendance by the Commonwealth Secretary General is a mark of the closer links between the two associations. Chief Anyaoku said:

I am happy to join the celebrations of La Francophonie Day in Paris not least because there are a number of Commonwealth countries which are members of both organizations and because there is much which we hold in common. If the Commonwealth's watchword is the pursuit of unity in diversity, it makes sense to seek that broader unity and understanding by working together. Indeed, our most ambitious collaboration is under way as I speak with the Commonwealth and La Francophonie deploying a joint observer mission to the Seychelles for the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections being held from the 20 to 22 March 1998.

3. Commonwealth and La Francophonie Host Meeting on Democracy and Pluralism in Cameroon

The Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) jointly organized a colloquium on 'Democracy in Pluralistic Societies' that was held in Yaoundé, Republic of Cameroon from January 24-26, 2000. It was the first time the two organizations, whose membership together comprise more than one-third of the world's population, have undertaken a joint initiative of this kind. The conference was opened by President Biya of Cameroon, and was attended by the Secretaries General of the two organizations: Chief Emeka Anyaoku (Commonwealth), and Boutros Boutros-Ghali (La Francophonie).

The idea for a joint colloquium arose from a Commonwealth/UNESCO conference held in Paris in January 1999 on constructive pluralism. The purpose was to consider the nature of pluralism and the role of the state and civil society in preventing it from becoming divisive. There is a need to show that being part of a multicultural society is an enriching experience and that pluralism should and can be a positive phenomenon, despite its potential for division.

The Secretaries General of both the Commonwealth and La Francophonie are concerned by the potential for division and conflict that can arise where pluralism is not managed successfully. The last few years have seen the international community intervene because of ethnic conflicts in Europe, Russia, Asia and Africa. Cameroon was selected as a venue to highlight the importance to Africa of managing pluralism successfully, since the country comprises diverse ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups, and is a member of both organizations. The overall aim of the meeting was to develop ideas on how to forge constitutional and institutional structures that can and will promote democracy and stability in pluralistic societies. Possible areas of future collaboration include the promotion of democracy and human rights, mediation and peace missions, debt management, the environment, and support for economic integration. And important to remember:

Both movements, the Commonwealth and la Francophonie, are a direct evolution from British and French empires. Though totally voluntary in membership, both have achieved a remarkable degree of adhesion. Undoubtedly this is because both movements provide a useful continuing linkage between rich and poor nations, and have successfully addressed the twin problems of racism and cultural imperialism (Bostock 1986,102).

As Don Boudria explained: "if La Francophonie wants to reinforce solidarity between the member states, it must take an active role and offer solutions when internal conflicts arise; thus, working on both a national and international level." There can be no democracy without cultural diversity, says Boutros-Ghali. For him, it is not enough to defend democratic principles on a national scale. It is necessary to protect it on a worldwide scale. Two principles guide the actions of the Secretary General: he intervenes only at the request of those directly involved, and does not intervene if another international organization is already at work in the area. He prefers to collaborate instead. The promotion of the diversity of language and culture, the protection of diversity, including the identity of the people, their traditions, images, and ideology is the basis of La Francophonie. Boutros-Ghali believes it is also necessary to fight for democracy.

Boutros-Ghali has a reputation as a freedom fighter, a defender of democracy, a pacifist, and is a champion of francophones the world over for his dedication and for his refusal to accept anything less than economic equality for all. For as he says, it is only then that world peace can have a chance.

La Francophonie in Canada

Canada has seven million citizens who speak, write, sing, work, and live in French. Nearly one million Francophones live across Canada in other provinces and territories, and all across the country Francophone communities are dynamic and teeming with culture and ideas. In addition, two million Canadians of various origins speak French as a second language. All of these Canadians share the use and love of the French language.

Canadians are very well represented within La Francophonie. Quebec, which is home to the vast majority of our Francophones, plays a lead role in Canada's Francophonie. And just as Canada saw fit to take on an integral role in the development of the Commonwealth, so too, it created for itself a leading position in La Francophonie, which is in many ways, the French equivalent.

The Canadian government has been associated with La Francophonie from the outset, having been active in the creation and development of its various institutions. The flourishing French culture in Canada and its expansion abroad have provided considerable motivation for Canadian involvement in La Francophonie which is an extension internationally of Canada's bilingualism policy and constitutes a basic, permanent component of its foreign policy. In seeking to enhance the rich diversity of Canada, the federal government promotes La Francophonie both domestically and abroad. To this end, it has established a system of bilateral diplomatic representation with all French-speaking countries, produced an extensive development co-operation program, initiated a political dialogue on major international issues and has become a member of all multilateral francophone organizations.

Canada has the status of member state in La Francophonie, while Quebec and New Brunswick are recognized as participating governments. La Francophonie is one of the main thrusts of Canada's foreign policy, as it "seeks to promote a free and open dialogue among very different, yet equal, partners in order to establish direct exchanges beyond geographical, ideological, ethnic, religious, cultural, and economic frontiers or barriers" (Canada 1988,3-4). From a domestic perspective, Canada's involvement in La Francophonie highlights the country's linguistic duality and supports and promotes Canada's French community, and "adds an element of stability and harmony to the country" (Canada 1988,3).

For Canada, the positive impact of its belonging to la Francophonie goes beyond the Francophone population and benefits all Canadians. It is not just a matter of cultural enrichment. All Canadians are likely to benefit from their country's expanded participation in social, technological and economic development in the Francophone world. Canada benefits from expanded bilateral relations with the summit participants, particularly France, with whom it has moved on this issue from a painful diplomatic impasse to full-fledged co-operation. This is yet another council in which it participates with one of its key European allies (Canada 1988,4).

Internationally, La Francophonie is a natural sphere of influence for Canada, similar to the Organization of American States and the Commonwealth. It is also a multilateral forum for cooperation and dialogue in which Canada can use its influence to promote the values its citizens wish to share. Acknowledging the importance of the French presence within its borders and determined to support the role of its Francophone community internationally, Canada was one of the first countries to promote La Francophonie by actively participating in the establishment and development of its many institutions. Indeed, Canada was one of the founding members of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation (Agence de cooperation culturelle et technique [ACCT], known today as Agence de la Francophonie). Canada has since assumed an important leadership role in the organization and is a member of all the multilateral institutions and Ministerial Conferences of La Francophonie.

Becoming a member of La Francophonie allowed Canada to join an extensive network of states and governments, located in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, as well as in North America. Through this network, Canadians have a greater opportunity to play an international role in the areas of language and culture, politics, the economy, new technology and cooperation.

In the federal government, the management of international Francophonie matters is the responsibility of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), which coordinates all aspects of this participation at the departmental and interdepartmental levels. The division also manages the bulk of budget resources that Canada devotes to the Agence de la Francophonie, and oversees projects resulting from summits and activities of the Francophonie institutions. CIDA is the main source of the funds granted by Canada to Francophonie cooperation programs and managed by the Francophonie Affairs Division. The Francophonie Affairs Division works closely with the Prime Minister's personal representative for Francophonie affairs on the preparation for and follow-up of summits and Ministerial Conferences. The personal representative represents Canada on the Permanent Council.

At the first Summit (Paris, 1986), Canada supported the establishment of the international data bank on French-speaking countries (Banque internationale d'information sur les États francophones - BIEF). Since 1992, BIEF has been an Agence de la Francophonie program accommodated within the administrative structure of Heritage Canada. Initially developed as a bibliographic database dealing with all member states of La Francophonie, BIEF quickly grew into a network for pooling and sharing human, documentary and technological resources, focusing on the transfer of information and documents. BIEF is involved in the development, modernization and strengthening of member states' national information policies and systems.

Four institutional networks were established: for national central services (Réseau des centres serveurs nationaux), for national librarians (Forum des directeurs de bibliothèques nationales), for national archives directors (Réseau des directeurs des archives nationales) and for national scientific and technical information centre directors (Réseau des directeurs des centres nationaux d'information scientifique et technique). BIEF works in close cooperation with international NGOs in the information field.

Each member of la Francophonie contributes in some way to the development of the organization. Canada has been fostering research in linguistics to meet the specific requirements stemming from its bilingual nature. Canadians have developed sophisticated linguistic tools - data banks, French language software, automated translation, and language training among them - coupled with the high-technology communications systems needed to serve a population that stretches across a whole continent. This expertise is shared with, or exported to, other Francophone countries or institutions (Canada 1988,3).

The rest of the world can appreciate Canada's unique contribution to the development of a modern and diverse international Francophone community. However, it should be pointed out that there is a downside to anything that has to do with standardization. As Dennis Ager points out:

In contemporary France governmental language policy, remarkably coherent since de Gaulle's time, is aimed at reinforcing international links through the development of the concept of francophonie; with ensuring efficiency and modernisation through terminology banks and lexical control; and with 'defending' French from excessive reliance on Americanisation. Language-planning instruments are however a mixture of control and persuasion, and the inbuilt conflicts of these differing aims, despite a generally supportive attitude among the French, mean that success is not guaranteed (Ager 1990, 10).

Provincial Involvement

To make it possible for the provinces to take part in La Francophonie activities in the early 1970s, the Government of Canada proposed an innovative approach. The outcome resulted in Quebec (in 1971) and New Brunswick (in 1977) being granted the status of participating government in the ACCT.

There are few such arrangements elsewhere, whereby a federal government grants to the government of a federated or provincial state the status of participating government in an international or regional organization. Communication and consultation arrangements have been established between Quebec, New Brunswick and the federal government, in order to make active, original participation possible for each of them while ensuring unity of action by Canada in the community of Agency members (Canada 1982,2).

Later, under agreements negotiated with the federal government in 1985, these two provinces were made full participants in cooperation matters. In consultation with the Prime Minister of Canada and subject to his ad hoc approval, they can act on global economic issues of interest to them, and have status as 'interested observers' regarding international political issues discussed during the summits. And for a number of years, the Government of Canada has invited the governments of Manitoba and Ontario to take part in the summits by appointing a representative from the provinces to join with the Canadian delegation. On occasion, a provincial minister may head the Canadian delegation and speak on behalf of Canada. Instances of this are Ministerial Conferences on education and on youth and sports.

In an interesting article entitled A Dynamic Minority: Francophone Culture in a Western Canadian Province, E.T. Annandale looks at the experience of Franco-Manitobans, a community made up of French-speaking Metis, descendents of French-speaking European colonists, and Quebec pioneers. Within their story, one can find insight into why French Canadians have been fighting for some kind of presence in this country; people do not always remember how the French and their language have been treated. This is what Annandale wrote:

To appreciate fully what is happening, one must also realize to what extent French was devalued in Manitoba during much of this century. It was the language of a mainly rural population [and much the same can be said of the French living in Quebec] in an increasingly urban society. It was forbidden to use French as a language of instruction in the public schools from 1916 on, with no significant change until the 1960's. French in Manitoba had the reputation among English-speakers of being an incomprehensible patois suitable, at best, for rural people within the family milieu. This attitude towards Canadian French was not, moreover, confined to Manitoba. It was a general attitude across the country that applied equally to French spoken in Quebec (Annandale 1988,198).

As the author goes on to explain, it was the Quiet Revolution of the early 1960's that saw the advent of the French in Quebec asserting their cultural and linguistic rights, something that many Anglophones reacted to in a hostile way. It was a good time to make an aggressive move to seek control over institutions and fight for economic equality because the international climate was favourable. La Francophonie was emerging as a force and provided the vehicle. And de Gaulle had lent his support for the Quebec officials, who were struggling for a distinctive presence in a sea of hostility (Page 1977,75). Alison d'Anglejan writes that the revolution was "an attempt to accelerate the socio-economic development of French Canadian society to bring it into line with that of the rest of Canada...[and also] accelerated the growth of nationalism" (d'Anglejan 1984,29).

And the Question of Quebec: A Short History

There was a good deal of resentment amongst the French due to their lower economic status when compared to that of the English in the province. The French fought to keep the Anglicisms out of the language and demanded some purity for it. French was no longer seen as a language used by rural folk, the hired help, and blue-collar workers, "but as the vehicle of a rich, varied and dynamic culture" (Annandale 1988,198). What happened in Quebec helped the French right across Canada, and communities such as those in Manitoba gained acceptance in their provinces, wherein, they were living almost entirely in an English environment, and fighting for survival. Would it really matter if the culture were completely integrated into Anglicized Manitoba? As Annandale writes:

The Franco-Manitobans have done more than merely survive in the nearly 120 years since the creation of the province. They have continued to manifest an astonishing energy which suggests that they may well overcome the enormous forces of assimilation to which they are exposed. If they do not, then a certain conception of Canada will disappear with them and "la Francophonie" as a world community will have suffered a loss more substantial than mere numbers would suggest (Annandale 1988,205).

What happened in Quebec in the 1960s to bring about the Quiet Revolution? What factors came together to transform a fairly unassuming group of Canadians into a revolutionary alliance, led by an anguished intellectual elite, who despaired for their French culture and language?

Historically, the French living in Quebec were raised Roman Catholic and typically had large families while living in rural areas of the province, farming and logging. The church controlled the schools and both were devoted to a French language existence, which had little contact with English speakers and the cities where they lived, such as Montreal. However, as industrialization began to change demographic patterns and more and more of the French-speaking Quebecois left their small towns and headed for the big cities for work in factories and businesses, they found that learning English was imperative if they wanted a new life. English-speaking interests had gained control over much of Quebec's industrial and business sectors (d'Anglejan 1984,31).

Other things became obvious as well, including the fact that they were lacking education when compared to the Canadian norm, and as a result, were lower on the income scale as well. Many turned their backs on the church and began using contraception, which caused a drastic decline in the birth rate of French-speaking Quebecois. This was coupled with the arrival of a growing number of immigrants, who spoke neither English nor French, but who chose to send their children to English school for an education. As Weinstein writes:

This development and the decline in their own birthrate convinced French-speaking intellectuals in the 1960s that eventually they might be outnumbered in their own homeland. The result would be the disappearance of Quebec's French identity and absolute cultural, economic and political control by Anglophones (Weinstein 1989, 57).

In 1961, the Office de la Langue Francaise was created to promote standardized French that was based on the Paris standard and an international lexicon. Its job was to purge regional expressions and English terms, and "revitalize the low prestige variety of French spoken in Quebec through the development and dissemination of French terminology to replace Canadianisms or Anglicisms in common use (d'Anglejan 1984,31). On November 23, 1965, an historical agreement was signed between France and Quebec, jointly accepting the responsibility to diffuse and promote the French language. As William W. Bostock writes in Francophonie: Organisation, Co-ordination, Evaluation:

The signing of this agreement, probably more than any other, marked the birth of La Francophonie, the organisational form of francophonie. It showed at once the foresightedness of French and Quebec leaders, French generosity in sharing its patrimony, and Quebec breadth of vision and perspicacity as to the difficult nature of the task ahead of preserving and securing francophone identity (Bostock 186,15).

By 1969, the OLF had more power and was mandated (Law 63) to expand its influence into both public and private areas of Quebec society. At this time, the federal government made English and French co-official languages, the courts and laws were now bilingual, and many people from Quebec began to apply for federal government jobs. What the Canadian government was afraid of was separation and they took steps to undercut the possibility of that happening (Weinstein 1989,66).

The Gendron Commission of 1972 recommended that French be made the only official language of the province (and both French and English should have the status of national languages). They saw this as a way to force children living in the province to be educated in French schools, and to force Allophones and Anglophones to learn French for the workplace. These actions would help to safeguard the language if made into law. By 1974, Law 22 did just that, making French the only official language of the province. The Gendron recommendations were initiated, along with provisions for French advertising, product labels, the creation of French technical terms to replace those English ones in use (the Banque de Terminologie of Quebec was introduced), and made knowledge of some basic French a requirement for those in public service, such as nurses. As Weinstein points out:

Since English is a much greater threat to the status of French in Quebec than it is to the status of French in France, the OLF has probably been more rigid in its refusal to accept English terms. They cannot forget they are a small minority in North America, and they must protect their identity (Weinstein 1989, 70).

By 1976, the Parti Quebecois came to power and it replaced Law 22 with Law 101 in 1977. For Anglophones in Canada and especially in Quebec, the bill was seen as negative, controversial, and anti-English, a sentiment that still holds true today for many (Bourhis 1984,1). The bill was "designed to make Quebec both institutionally and socially a unilingual French state. It contains measures to curb the growth of the English-speaking community and to diminish its status" (d'Anglejan 1984,40). Language planning and the attempt to curb the use of English in Quebec was initiated to achieve some degree of social and economic equality in the workplace; it was a way to provide francophones with access to jobs they were being excluded from getting on the basis of language (Laporte 1984,60). Law 101 included:

  1. The requirement that companies with fifty or more employees use French in both oral and written communication, with the expectation that management have a satisfactory knowledge of French;
  2. Made it illegal for factory owners and other businesspeople to insist that employees communicate in English while on the job;
  3. Strengthened the laws on street signs, labels, advertisements, and contractual documents, insisting that French be used;
  4. Clarification of the status of French as the official language of the province.
  5. The requirement that all children must attend French school, unless they were already enrolled in an English one, have one parent who attended an English language school, had a brother or sister attending one, or whose parents were living temporarily in the province.
  6. Businesses that were in violation of the laws pertaining to the use of French were made ineligible for government benefits and contracts, with heavy fines levied against those who choose not to comply.
  7. Increase in the number of French-speaking Quebeckers working in businesses, with inclusion on boards as directors.
  8. And, the requirement that all public contracts will be written and negotiated in French, with the expectation that French names be used for agencies.

To conclude, in Language Policy for Quebec and its Implications for Canadian Unity, Robert M. Gill had this to say in the tumultuous days of 1979:

The Quebec government's current language policy as it affects Quebec both developed as the result of concrete political pressures. In general, these pressures resulted from the failure of Quebec's Quiet Revolution to achieve equal access to "key" positions in the Quebec economy for French-speaking Quebeckers and the subsequent blockage of the new French Canadian elite; from the problems generated by the falling birth rate and from the demands of French Canadian nationalists within Quebec. As the central government appeared unable or unwilling to address their perceived needs, these French Canadian nationalists placed increased demands on the provincial government. This led in turn to a new pressure, as increasing numbers of French Canadian nationalists turned to Quebec nationalism or separatism as a result of government's perceived failure to effectively answer their demands (Gill 1979,399).

Foreign Policy

Since cooperation within La Francophonie is becoming increasingly specialized and multidisciplinary in nature, experts attached to various federal departments provide the Francophonie Affairs Division with support and advice. These officers are responsible for converting major policy directions adopted by the heads of state and government at the summits into specific projects within the budget allocated to the Francophonie Affairs Division. They sit on the Francophonie program committees set up for each of the five program areas. The sectoral correspondents come from CIDA, Industry Canada, Canadian Heritage, Justice Canada, Environment Canada, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Human Resources Development Canada and Elections Canada.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is responsible for administering the bulk of assistance. Created in 1968, the Agency's mandate is to support sustainable development in developing countries in order to reduce poverty and to contribute to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world. In fact, 43 of the member countries are eligible for Canadian official development assistance or for aid to countries in transition in Central and Eastern Europe to help them build democratic societies and market economies. Half of the countries in Africa (26 out of 52) belong to La Francophonie.

In Africa, French got its first foothold with the founding of Saint-Louis du Senegal in 1659. But it wasn't until the mid-19th and early 20th centuries that the French and Belgians established colonies in northern and sub-Saharan Africa. African countries became independent from France and Belgium during the same period that British colonies became independent members of the Commonwealth, from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s. French coexists with many other local or national languages (Hamilton 1994, 20).

In addition to supporting the growth of La Francophonie countries through its regular activities, CIDA advises Canadian federal government departments involved in planning and implementing projects announced at summits of heads of member states and governments. The Agency is also the main source of Canadian funds allocated to these projects, as well as those undertaken by institutions of La Francophonie, such as the Agence de la Francophonie's Special Development Program. Since September 1997, Africa and Middle East Branch's Francophonie Program have managed CIDA's contribution to the institutions of La Francophonie.

CIDA-funded programs in this area of the world are designed mainly to promote peace and security, and to raise the standard of living of the poorest people, chiefly by promoting economic development, and by meeting the most urgent needs in areas such as health, nutrition and education. In Egypt, for example, two multi-year projects are helping to support the development of small and medium-sized businesses, focusing special attention on technical and professional training and the needs of women business leaders. However, as Dennis Ager points out in Francophonie in the 1990s: Problems and Opportunities, although Europe and Africa stand the best chance of securing a solid future for La Francophonie, there are things to keep in mind:

Africa has the exciting potential for enormous wealth, growth and development, but also for the display of diplomatic skills in the context of humanitarian and universal assistance for some of mankind's most deprived populations. But a secure future for Francophonie in Africa is subject to a number of threats: instability in politics, economic diversity and underdevelopment, constantly changing relationships with the developed North, the fact that Nigeria and South Africa - the super-States of Black Africa - have an Anglophone past and indeed that English-speaking countries have a high profile, the policy of international agencies such as the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, and difficulties with the often self-centred international policies of many countries such as America (Ager 1996,129-130).

Still, Canada intends to focus its efforts on raising the international profile of this young organization and making it a forum in which all Francophones throughout the world can come together and recognize their common bonds. However, "[t]oday, La Francophonie has become a significant force in the world, culturally, politically (but not ideologically) and economically, particularly through aid" (Bostock 1986,99-100). Globalization, which tends to press people into the same mould, makes such an approach all the more necessary. These major objectives will be achieved by focusing on specific goals at the political, economic and cooperative level. Canada's ultimate goal is to contribute to development of a true community that will strengthen its members' interdependence and foster an atmosphere of solidarity. The political will generated by the summits and the resources devoted to them will help to give La Francophonie its definitive form as an international organization based on solidarity and effective action.

Another possibly unexpected result of Francophonie is that countries like Guinea, which a decade ago rejected French as a medium of instruction in primary schools and then returned to French, knew they would receive help because of the francophone movement. A certain infrastructure exists because of the movement. Although France is by far the most important francophone state, its own economic limitations prevent it from providing the huge amount of aid that several states in Africa appear to need. Even though Jacques Chirac cannot resolve the problems of the capital of Mauritania, the leaders of that African state know that France maintains a long-term interest in their country -- while other European or North American countries do not - in large part because of Francophonie (Weinstein 1989,76).

The Future

Does Francophonie have to continue its expansion? Boutros-Ghali observed the existence of two schools, which clash: one says that if Francophonie extends in non-French-speaking countries, it will become stronger, while others believe that expansion of Francophonie, weakens it. The Secretary General believes a synthesis of these two positions is possible, if its budget increases in proportion and the economies of the member countries greatly improves (Venne, August 28, 1999). William Bostock expresses it this way:

Clearly francophonie does depend for its health on the vitality of its individual member nations and regions, and that in turn depends on a combination of activities: economic, cultural, technological, intellectual, and demographic. To the extent that francophonie assists in that process, it is a desirable and positive force in the world. It also provides a model for other movements based on language and culture. It also demonstrates that the destructive cleavages of racism and ideology can be contained and a contribution to the reduction of economic inequalities can be made within the framework of a movement based on language and culture. It also demonstrates that a world language and culture movement can exist alongside and to the benefit of indigenous languages and cultures, and can indeed provide a vehicle for intellectuals and artists within those cultures, to reach a far wider audience (Bostock 1986,110).

The other thing that must be kept in mind when thinking about the future is the small number of French-speaking people when compared to other major languages. Even in many of the Francophonie countries, French has not become entrenched into the general population (Ager 1996,45). For instance, "seven countries, whose official language is French, have less than 10% 'real' Francophones" (Ager 1996,45). The hope for an improvement in the numbers must come from those who will use it as a second or third language, which means that it will need to be seen as a vehicular language (Ager 1996,46). What will it take to achieve this?

So the dilemma is clear: either French can remain standard French and necessarily remain a language of limited communication; or it can lay claim to wider use and accept both modernisation and regional fragmentation. If the future of Francophonie is to rest on its cultural preferences, and at the same time it is to be presented as a universal movement, there will have to be better comparative arguments which can defeat the charge of both xenophobia and elitism (Ager 1996, 170/187).

Related Papers

Foucault and His Panopticon


Afrique Tribune. Vol. 3, No. 54, March 14-27, 1997.

Ager, Dennis. Sociolinguistics and Contemporary French. Cambridge: Cambridge University University Press, 1990.

Ager, Dennis. Francophonie in the 1990s: Problems and Opportunities. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters Ltd., 1996.

Annandale, E.T. A Dynamic Minority: Francophone Culture in a Western Canadian Province. Contemporary French Civilization 7, no. 2 (1988): 194-99.

Bostock, William W. Francophonie: Organisation, Coordination, Evaluation. Melbourne, AU: River Seine Publications, 1986.

Bourhis, Richard Y., ed. Conflict and Language Planning in Quebec. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters Ltd., 1984.

Canada. Canada and La Francophonie. Ottawa: Dept. of External Affairs, 1982.

Canada. Overview: Canada and la Francophonie. Ottawa: Dept. of External Affairs, 1988.

D'Anglejan, Alison. "Language Planning in Quebec: An Historical Overview and Future Trends." In Conflict and Language Planning in Quebec, edited by Richard Y. Bourhis. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters Ltd., 1984.

Gill, Robert M. Language Policy for Quebec and its Implications for Canadian Unity. Contemporary French Civilization 3, no. 3 (1979): 385-99.

Guindon, Rene, and Pierre Poulin. Francophones in Canada: A Community of Interests. Ottawa: Canadian Heritage, 1996.

Hamilton, Janice. Canada in Action: The Commonwealth, La Francophonie, edited by Rupert J. Taylor. Waterloo, ON: R/L Publishing Consultants, 1994.

Jernudd, Bjorn H., and Michael J. Shapiro, eds. The Politics of Language Purism. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1989.

Laporte, Pierre E. "Status Language Planning in Quebec: An Evaluation." In Conflict and Language Planning in Quebec, edited by Richard Y. Bourhis. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters Ltd., 1984.

Page, D.M. Quebec's International Future. Contemporary French Civilization 2, no. 1 (1977): 73-85.

Spencer, Samia I. A Francophone at the Helm: Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the United Nations Sixth Secretary-General. Contemporary French Civilization 17, no. 1 (1993): 84-95.

Venne, Michel. Boutros Boutros-Ghali: Francophonie, médiateur pour la paix et la démocratie. Le Devoir, Saturday August 28, 1999.

Weinstein, Brian. "Francophonie: Purism at the International Level." In The Politics of Language Purism, edited by Bjorn H. Jernudd, and Michael J. Shapiro. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1989.

Zetterholm, Staffan, ed. National Cultures and European Integration: Exploratory Essays on Cultural Diversity and Common Policies. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 1994.

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