Francophonie, La

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Francophonie, La

La Francophonie, officially the International Organization of the Francophonie, Fr. Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), an intergovernmental organization of mainly French-speaking nations that promotes the education and culture of French speakers as well as peace, democracy, human rights, and economic cooperation and development in the French-speaking world. Founded in 1986 at an international conference at Versailles, France, the organization has 57 members (54 nations and the French Community of Belgium and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec); a number of non-French-speaking nations are among its members. The OIF is headed by a secretary-general (who chairs the OIF's permanent standing committee) and holds (since 1987) biennial meetings of the leaders of its member nations. The organization's bodies include the Intergovernmental Agency, its main agency; several specialized agencies, among them TV5 and Senghor Univ. of Alexandria; and the consultative Parliamentary Assembly.

La Francophonie originated in a number of international organizations of French speakers established after World War II. An international association of francophone journalists was founded in 1950, of national education ministers in 1960, of universities in 1961, and of national legislators in 1967. In 1970, at a conference in Niamey, Niger, the first intergovernmental body of the French-speaking world, the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation (ACCT), was founded. In the 1990s these and other organizations were consolidated under a standing committee (est. 1991), which gave the OIF a more permanent status; ACCT became the Intergovernmental Agency of La Francophonie in 1996. The post of secretary-general was created in 1997, and Boutros Boutros Ghali was the first to serve in the post.

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