Except for international institutions created and run by France, such as Alliance française (1883), International Francophonie is relatively young. Truly multilateral associations devoted to closer ties between francophone groups began to appear shortly after WWII, eg, la Fédération internationale de la presse de langue française (Paris, 1948), l'Association des universités partiellement ou entièrement de langue française (Montréal, 1961) and l'Institut international de droit d'expression française (1964). These are all private bodies, although they often benefit from government subsidies. The private sector of International Francophonie continues to develop rapidly. There are some 50 international French-language federations, communities, academies, associations and institutes working to increase co-operation in many different fields.
In 1967, elected members of some 20 national parliaments met as delegates in Luxembourg to set up the Association internationale des parlementaires de langue française. Two years later, an international conference in Zaire brought together an equal number of ministers of education, this time officially representing their governments. However, a permanent body was not formed until 1970, when ministerial delegates from 21 countries met in Niamey, Niger, to found l'Agence de coopération culturelle et technique, an international organization devoted to multilateral governmental co-operation. ACCT brings together French-speaking states whose mutual goals include the development of culture, education, science and technology. The first full-fledged meeting of the ACCT was held in Paris 1986. In 1987 delegations from members and nonmembers that met at Québec City were Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso [Upper Volta], Burundi, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Egypt, France, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Laos, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Monaco, Morocco, Niger, Rwanda, St Lucia, Senegal, Seychelles, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Vietnam and Zaire. Two Canadian provinces, Québec and New Brunswick, have the status of participating governments. At this summit, Canada announced a contribution of $17 million to assist new and existing projects in French-speaking Africa and debt forgiveness of $325 million in loans, affecting African nations. The next summit is to be held in Senegal in 1989.
The comparison is often drawn between Francophonie and the COMMONWEALTH. The similarities are evident: each includes developing and developed countries; each consists largely of former colonies, most of which achieved independence after WWII; finally, each has the same general objectives of mutual assistance, co-operation and development in all fields. But Commonwealth structures are very different from those adopted by Francophonie. Despite much discussion of the idea, for example, there is no equivalent in Francophonie of the biannual summit meetings held by the heads of state of Commonwealth countries. Canada has been active in international Francophonie since its beginnings, in both public and private sectors.
Author GÉRARD PELLETIER
Links to Other Sites
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
An extensive online collection of documents, portraits, maps, audio clips, and other archival material relating to the history of Québec.
Staying in Tune: Traditions and Musical Instruments of the Francophonie
Experience world music and culture as you listen to the distinctive sounds of traditional musical instruments, such as the African balafon, in this multimedia Virtual Museum website.
This Laurentian University institute investigates issues of concern to the Franco-Ontarian community.
Francophones of Newfoundland and Labrador
Search for or browse topics and locations at this extensively illustrated online exhibit that explores the enduring legacy of early French settlers and fishers in Newfoundland and Labrador. Features many historic images of the Placentia region. From the Virtual Museum of Canada.
Alberta's Francophone Heritage
Biograhies of some notable personalities in the development of Franco-Albertan heritage and culture. From Alberta's Heritage Community Foundation.