The International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF) comprises 77 States and governments (57 members and 20 observers). Its members share the use of the French language and such priorities as peace and security, cultural and linguistic diversity, democratic governance, democratic development, respect for human rights, poverty reduction and sustainable development. IOF is the central agency responsible for implementing La Francophonie’s mandate; the majority of its member and observer countries are also developing country partners with Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD).
As a member of the IOF, Canada belongs to a community that encompasses 900 million people and among them, 220 million Francophones. This network extends from Europe to the Middle East, from Africa across the Indian Ocean to the Pacific, to the Americas and the Caribbean. The IOF is supported in the delivery of its mandate by four operators, many of which are widely known to the Canadian population: the Francophone University Agency, the Senghor University, the International Association of Francophone Mayors, and TV5.
Canada's involvement in La Francophonie highlights the country's linguistic duality and its attachment to the shared values of La Francophonie. Participation in La Francophonie gives Canadians more opportunities to wield international influence in the areas of language and culture, economics and new technologies, and international cooperation. It allows the rest of the world truly to appreciate Canada’s unique contribution to modernizing La Francophonie and making it receptive to diversity.
Canada and the Building of La Francophonie
Canada has actively participated in the creation and development of La Francophonie institutions. It was thus a Canadian, Jean-Marc Léger, who spearheaded the creation of the University Agency of La Francophonie (AUF) in 1961. Later, in 1979, the mayors of Paris and Quebec City led the initiative to create the International Association of Mayors and Officials of Partially or Wholly French-speaking Capitals and Cities (AIMF).
Canada was also one of the founding members of the Cultural and Technical Cooperation Agency, created in Niamey in 1970, which later became the Intergovernmental Agency of La Francophonie, then the International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF) in 2005.
Canada is the second biggest donor to La Francophonie, after France. Its contribution amounted to more than 38 million dollars for 2013-2014, in assessed and voluntary contributions to OIF and its other institutions. Over the years, Canada has encouraged La Francophonie to take on a greater political role by defending the respect of democratic values and human rights and addressing difficult political issues. These principles are enshrined in the Bamako (2000) (.pdf) and St. Boniface (2006) (.pdf) Declarations.
Canada has also supported the institutional reforms implemented to increase the efficiency, consistency and outcomes of policies and programs within La Francophonie. Canada is proud that the Francophonie has become a multilateral organization, modern, effective and relevant in the context of global governance, including through the implementation of its political and cooperation mandates.
Canada was a principal stakeholder in the development of La Francophonie’s 2005‑2014 ten‑year Strategic Framework (.pdf), adopted at the Ouagadougou Summit in 2004, which defines La Francophonie’s four basic mandates:
- To promote the French language, as well as cultural and linguistic diversity;
- To promote peace, democracy and human rights;
- To support education, training, higher education and research;
- To develop cooperation for sustainable development.
The Dakar Summit is particularly important, since the Heads of State and government will adopt documents that will set key directions for La Francophonie in the coming years: the 2015-2022 strategic framework, the resulting programming for 2015-2018, and the economic and youth strategy. In this context, Canada, as an active member of La Francophonie, announced in June 2014, jointly with the governments of New Brunswick and Quebec, its support for the candidacy of the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada and current UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti, as head of the Organization.
Canada’s Hosting of Francophone Summits
Canada has hosted the Francophone Summit on three occasions: in 1987 in Quebec City, in 1999 in Moncton and in 2008 in Quebec City, for the 400th anniversary of the city’s founding.
Canada has hosted several Ministerial Conferences of La Francophonie, including the 24th Ministerial Conference of La Francophonie, held in Quebec City in October 2008, the Ministerial Conference of La Francophonie on Conflict Prevention and Human Security, held in May 2006 in Saint Boniface, Manitoba and the first Conference of Francophone Ministers Responsible for the Information Highway held in 1997 in Montreal. Canada also hosted the Fourth Francophone Games in Ottawa/Hull in 2001.
In July 2012, Quebec City (Canada-Quebec delegation) hosted the first French language World Forum (.pdf), bringing together some 2000 Francophone and Francophile civil-society participants from 93 countries to think about and discuss the current and future role of the French language.
Two institutions are headquartered in Canada: the University Agency of La Francophonie (AUF), in Montreal and the Institute for Sustainable Development of La Francophonie (IFDD), a subsidiary agency of the IOF, in Quebec City.
Participation of Provinces and Territories
Quebec and New Brunswick respectively joined La Francophonie in 1971 and 1977, both with the participating government status. They have seats separate from Canada’s in the various institutions of La Francophonie and the decision-making bodies of operating agencies. These seats are referred to as Canada-Quebec and Canada-New Brunswick. Canada has always represented and defended the values of all Canadians in La Francophonie’s international context.
Traditionally, representatives of Canada’s other provinces and territories are invited to join the Canadian delegation at summits. They are also regularly invited to take part in the activities of operators or agencies associated with La Francophonie.
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