La Francophonie is a network of member states and governments sharing French as a common language. The network includes several independently established institutions dating back to the 1960s.
Led by heads of member states and governments, La Francophonie currently includes 56 member states and governments, as well as 19 observers. Fifty of these members are DFATD developing country partners eligible for official development assistance from Canada and 24 are least-developed countries.
The mandate of La Francophonie is both political and developmental and sets out to:
The Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), is the central operating agency mainly responsible for carrying out La Francophonie's dual mandate.
Canada was one of the first countries to promote La Francophonie by helping to establish and develop its institutions. Membership in La Francophonie is an important part of Canada's foreign policy, offering a multilateral forum where Canada can promote its values and priorities in areas such as language, culture, politics, economics, new technologies, and international cooperation. At home, participation in La Francophonie highlights Canada's linguistic duality and provides an opportunity to discuss affirmation and growth of the French culture.
Several Canadian government departments are involved in La Francophonie. DFATD is responsible for managing and coordinating Canada's participation in La Francophonie, which includes providing technical expertise and advice on all development issues. Canadian Heritage plays a role in promoting language, cultural diversity, and development of youth through sports and the arts.
Canada is the second largest contributor to La Francophonie. The provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick are also members of La Francophonie and important contributors.
The institutions of La Francophonie play an important role as a source of French-language knowledge, information, and services; the OIF actively advocates peace, democracy, and poverty reduction through sustainable development based on equality between women and men—values that Canada promotes.
The institutions of La Francophonie include:
The objectives of the institutions of La Francophonie align closely with two of Canada's priority themes for international development: securing the future of children and youth and stimulating sustainable economic growth.
La Francophonie, with its focus on increasing access to quality education and professional and technical training, is one of Canada's key partners, helping young people participate fully in their societies, helping its members develop national education, sport and youth policies, and organizing summer schools and important events such as the Jeux de la Francophonie, which bring together thousands of young people to meet, exchange, and learn.
La Francophonie helps developing francophone countries participate in the global economy. Through training and technical assistance, La Francophonie helps countries achieve regional economic integration, strengthen their capacities to participate in international trade negotiations, diversify their economies, and manage their national debts. It also helps improve the capacity of local communities to participate in their own development.
Canada's international development work with La Francophonie focuses on four strategic objectives:
In 2011, with the support of Canada and other donors, La Francophonie and its institutions:
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