Francophonie Explained

Native Name:Organisation internationale de la Francophonie
Linking Name:La Francophonie
Text Symbol Type:Motto
Text Symbol:"Égalité, Complémentarité, Solidarité"
("Equality, Complementarity, Solidarity"),[1]
alluding to France's motto
Membership:56 member states
3 associate members
14 observers
Admin Center Type:Headquarters
Admin Center:Paris, France
Languages Type:Official languages
Leader Title1:Executive Secretary
Leader Name1:Abdou Diouf

La Francophonie, or the Francophonie, is an international organization of polities and governments with French as the mother or customary language, wherein a significant proportion of people are Francophones (French-speaking) or where there is a notable affiliation with the French language or culture.

Formally known as the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) or the International Organization of the Francophonie,[2] the organization comprises 56 member states and governments, 3 associate members, and 14 observers. Francophonie may also refer, particularly in French, to the global community of French-speaking peoples,[3] comprising a network of private and public organizations promoting special ties among all Francophones.[4] The prerequisite for admission to the Francophonie is not the degree of French usage in the member countries, but a prevalent presence of French culture and language in the member country's identity, usually stemming from France's colonial ambitions with other nations in its history. Few of the member states are majority French-speaking, aside from France and its overseas possessions.

French geographer Onésime Reclus, brother of Élisée Reclus, coined the word Francophonie in 1880 to refer to the community of people and countries using the French language. Francophonie was then coined a second time by Léopold Sédar Senghor, founder of the Négritude movement, in the review Esprit in 1962, who assimilated it into Humanism.[5] [6]

The modern organization was created in 1970. Its motto is égalité, complémentarité, solidarité ("equality, complementarity, and solidarity"),[7] alluding to France's motto. Started as a small club of northern French-speaking countries, the Francophonie has since evolved into a global organization whose numerous branches cooperate with its member states in the fields of culture, science, economy, justice, and peace.

The Francophonie could be compared to a French version of the Commonwealth of Nations.


For the official structure, see the flow chart given on the OIF website: Francophonie has an observer status at the UN General Assembly. It has been renamed a few times since its founding:

Executive Secretariat (Secretaries-general)


Summits of the Francophonie (often referred by the English media as the "Francophone Summit")[8] are held every two years, at which time the leaders of the member states have an opportunity to meet and develop strategies and goals for the organization.

Past Summits:

Permanent council

The Permanent Council of the Francophonie consists of Ambassadors of the member countries, and, like the ministers' conferences, its main task is to plan future summits and also to supervise the implementation of summit decisions on a day-to-day basis.

Intergovernmental agency

The Intergovernmental Agency of the Francophonie is the main operator of the cultural, scientific, technical, economic and legal cooperation programs decided at the Summits. The Agency's headquarters are in Paris and it has three regional branches in Libreville, Gabon; Lomé, Togo; and Hanoi, Vietnam.


The Charte de la Francophonie defines the role and missions of the organization. The current charter was adopted in Antananarivo, on November 23, 2005. The summit held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on 26-27 November 2004 saw the adoption of a strategic framework for the period 2004-2014.

French language, cultural and linguistic diversity

The primary mission of the organization is the promotion of the French language as an international language and the promotion of worldwide cultural and linguistic diversity in the era of economic globalisation. In this regard, countries that are members of the Francophonie have contributed largely to the adoption by the UNESCO of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (October 20, 2005).

Peace, democracy and human rights

Similar to organization such as the Commonwealth of Nations, the Francophonie has as its stated aims the promotion of democracy and human rights. Following the November 3rd 2000 Déclaration de Bamako [9], the Francophonie has given itself the financial means to attain a number of set objectives in that regard.

In recent years, some participating governments, notably the governments of Quebec and Canada, pushed for the adoption of a Charter in order for the organization to sanction member States that are known to have poor records when it comes to the protection of human rights and the practice of democracy. Such a measure was debated at least twice but was never approved.


The official list of members is available at the Francophonie website.

Mauritania's membership was suspended on August 26, 2008, pending democratic elections, after a military coup.[10]

CountryStatusYear joinedOfficial languageNotes
member1999Albanianapproximately 30% of young Albanians choose French as their first foreign language[11]
member2004CatalanPresident of France is co-Prince of Andorra
member1970officially trilingual, French includedFrench is the native language of about 40% of the population. [12] . Belgium's French community is also a member separately.
member1980French official languagea community of Belgium with its two components Wallonia (excepting the German speaking Community and Brussels-Capital Region [its French-Speaking majority])
member1970Frenchformer French colony
member1993BulgarianFrench is spoken by 9% as additional language
member1970Frenchformer French colony
member1970Frenchformer Belgian UN-protectorate
member1993Khmerformer French colony
member1991officially bilingual, French includedover 90% of country was a French colony
member1970Officially bilingual, French includedthe provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick are participating governments; much of Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes formed part of former French Colonies (as part of New France and Acadia). As of 2004, a government representative from Ontario also attends as part of the Canadian delegation, although Ontario is not yet a participating government in its own right.
participating government1977officially bilingual, French includedprovince of Canada; former French colony Acadia, New France.
participating government1971Frenchprovince of Canada; former French colony Canada, New France.
member1996PortugueseFormer Portuguese colony with many neighboring French-speaking countries.
member1973officially bilingual, French includedformer French colony
member1970Frenchformer French colony
member1977officially trilingual, French includedformer French colony
member1977Frenchformer Belgian colony
member1981Frenchformer French colony
member1970Frenchformer French colony
member1977officially bilingual, French includedformer French colony
member1979EnglishFrench and then British colony; Antillean Creole, a French-based creole language, is spoken by 90% of the population.
member1983Arabictraditional Francophone elite
member1989officially bilingual, French includedFormer Spanish colony surrounded by French-speaking countries; member of the CFA.
member1970Frenchformer French colony
member2004GreekFrench is understood and spoken by 8% of the population
member1981Frenchformer French colony
member1979Portuguesecountry surrounded by French-speaking countries. Former Portuguese colony
member1970officially bilingual, French includedformer French colony
member1991Laoformer French colony
member1973Arabic; French is an administrative languageUnder a French mandate from 1920-1943, French language used in schools and universities, and is understood by the majority of the population.
member1970Officially trilingual, French included
officially trilingual, French includedformer French colony
member1970Frenchformer French colony
member1980Arabicformer French colony, French is an administrative language
Creole is the mother tongue of the general population.
Dutch, French, and then British colony; French is widely used by the media.
member1970Frenchformer French protectorate
member1981Arabicformer French protectorate
French is commonly used
member1970Frenchformer French colony
member1993RomanianFrench is understood and spoken by 24% of the population Historic cultural ties with France, especially during the late 19th century and early 20th century.
member1970officially trilingual, French includedformer Belgian UN-protectorate
member1981EnglishFormer French and British colony. Antillean Creole, a French-based creole language, is spoken by 90% of the population.
member1999PortugueseFormer Portuguese colony, neighboring French-speaking countries.
member1970Frenchformer French colony
member1976officially trilingual, French includedformer French colony (first empire), later British colony, French is commonly used
member1996Officially quadrilingual, French includedFrench is the native language of about 20% of all Swiss.
member1970Frenchformer French colony
member1970Arabicformer French colony; French is commonly used
member1979officially trilingualformer French and British condominium
member1970Vietnameseformer French colony
associate member2004[13] ArmenianArmenian culture is tied to France via the Franco-Armenian dynasty of the Kingdom of Cilicia during the Middle Ages and the large Armenian community in France. See also: Franco-Armenian relations
associate member2006Greek,TurkishFrench is understood and spoken by 12% of the population; Historical ties through the Lusignan rule of the Kingdom of Cyprus during the Middle Ages.
associate member2006Englishcountry surrounded by French-speaking countries


CountryYear joinedLanguageNotes
2004GermanFrench is spoken by 10% as additional language.
2004CroatianFrench is understood and spoken by 4% of the population, and the county was the Illyrian Provinces during Napoleonic rule from 1809 to 1813.
1999CzechFrench is understood and spoken by 2% of the population.
2004GeorgianLike Armenia, Georgia had a connection with the French kingdoms in the Middle Ages.
2004HungarianFrench is understood and spoken by 2% of the population.
1999LithuanianFrench is understood and spoken by 1% of the population, and in World War I the Baltic States were occupied by a French military garrison to protect them from the newly-formed Soviet Union (1918).
2006Portugueseformer Portuguese colony.
1996PolishPoland has historic ties to France; French is understood and spoken by 3% of the population, and many Polish emigrants settled in France in the 20th century.
2006SerbianFrench is taught in one-third of schools.
2002SlovakFrench is spoken by 2% as additional language
1999SlovenianFrench is spoken by 4% as additional language.

The U.S. state of Louisiana (the small French-speaking Cajun minority in Acadiana) is an observer member with some representation in the Francophonie; the state was formerly part of New France from 1680 to 1767 (the brief period of Spanish rule by New Spain, and again from 1800 to 1803 when the United States annexed Louisiana and the remainder known as the Louisiana Purchase.

Italy is not an observer[14] even though French is one of the two official languages in the Aosta Valley region.

Turkey has or had a large number French-speaking citizens, have a large presence of French Education in French and the Turkish language has many French words and a heavy French influence.

The current subdivisional members are Belgium, Canada, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

See also

External links

Notes and References

  1. Brochure: L’Institut de l’énergie et de l’environnement de la Francophonie
  2. Atlas of Canada: The Francophonie
  3. FRANCOPHONIE 18/03/2006
  4. "Francophonie" The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Foundation of Canada, 2008. Accessed 22 January 2009.
  5. [Radio France International]
  6. La France à l’heure de la francophonie culturelle « Saisir du français pour l’imprégner de sa singularité ! »
  7. Brochure: L’Institut de l’énergie et de l’environnement de la Francophonie
  9. Déclaration de Bamako
  10. "L’OIF suspend la Mauritanie"
  11. Embassy of France in the US - France / Eastern Europe
  12. Ginsburgh, Victor, Université Catholique de Louvain; Weber, Shlomo, Professor Economy and Director of the Center for Economic Studies of the Southern Methodist University, Dallas, USA, and having a seat in the expert panel of the IMF La dynamique des langues en Belgique. Regards économiques, Publication préparée par les économistes de l'Université Catholique de Louvain. June. 2006. Numéro 42. Les enquêtes montrent que la Flandre est bien plus multilingue, ce qui est sans doute un fait bien connu, mais la différence est considérable : alors que 59 % et 53 % des Flamands connaissent le français ou l'anglais respectivement, seulement 19 % et 17 % des Wallons connaissent le néerlandais ou l'anglais. ... 95 pour cent des Bruxellois déclarent parler le français, alors que ce pourcentagetombe à 59 pour cent pour le néerlandais. Quant à l’anglais, il est connu par une proportion importante de la population à Bruxelles (41 pour cent). ... Le syndrome d’H (...) frappe la Wallonie, où à peine 19 et 17 pour cent de la population parlent respectivement le néerlandais et l’anglais.. French. pdf 0.7 MB. 2007-05-07. 10.1159/000013462. 19. 282.
  13. Armenia joined IOF as an Observer in 2004 and it's status was upgraded to Associate Member in 2008: