La Francophonie

The International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF) comprises 80 States and governments (57 members and 23 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, 274 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 of Alexandria, 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 Development of Francophonie Institutions

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 actively involved in developing the 2015–2022 Strategic Framework for La Francophonie (PDF in French only, 510 KB) adopted at the Dakar Summit in November 2014. The purpose of this strategic framework is to focus La Francophonie’s actions around four overall objectives:

  1. Increase the international influence of French and develop the use of the language;
  2. Strengthen the role and place of La Francophonie internationally to improve multilateralism and global governance;
  3. Strengthen the role of women and youth as agents for peace and development;
  4. Support innovation and creativity to serve the economy within a context of sustainable development.

The 15th Summit of La Francophonie was held in Dakar, Senegal, on November 29–30, 2014. In addition to naming Canadian Michaëlle Jean Secretary General of La Francophonie, the Heads of State and Government accepted three new observers (Costa Rica, Kosovo and Mexico) and adopted the Dakar Declaration (PDF in French only, 337 KB) and nine resolutions, including a Canadian-led resolution on maternal, newborn and child health (PDF in French only, 228 KB). In addition to the 2015–2022 Strategic Framework, other key documents to which Canada actively contributed were adopted in Dakar: the 2015–2018 Four Year Program to address the challenges facing La Francophonie, the Economic Strategy for La Francophonie (PDF in French only, 365 KB) and a Youth Strategy (PDF in French only, 415 KB).

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.

Economic Francophonie

At the Kinshasa Summit in 2012, the heads of state and government of La Francophonie asked the International Organisation of la Francophonie (OIF) to develop a common economic strategy for the Francophone world. The Economic Strategy for La Francophonie was developed by an OIF working group made up of representatives from member states and governments, including Canada. Various institutions of the Francophonie were also part of this process.

The Economic Strategy for La Francophonie was adopted by the heads of state and government at the Dakar Summit in Senegal in November 2014. The Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie, Christian Paradis, played a leading role in the promotion of the Economic Strategy, chairing many round tables, both in Canada and abroad, in the months leading up to its adoption.

The Economic Strategy for La Francophonie is part of a vision in which individual development lies at the heart of sustainable economic development. It contributes to the implementation of the post-2015 international agenda, guided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Economic Strategy for La Francophonie is intended to reconcile economic growth, fight poverty and inequality, protect the environment and preserve cultural heritage. To do this, it calls for improving democratic processes and strengthening the rule of law, governance, human rights and equality between men and women. It is also aimed at the further involvement of actors in local development, civil society, the private sector and the diaspora. The effective implementation of this strategy is a priority of Canada’s engagement within La Francophonie.