Francophonie is first and foremost the community of 321 million people worldwide who speak French. It is also an institutional mechanism, embodied by the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), dedicated to promoting French and implementing political, educational, economic and cultural cooperation between French-speaking countries. The French language holds a special place at the United Nations, where France acts daily to promote its vitality and to defend multilingualism.
French at the United Nations
French is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, together with English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and Arabic. As such, it can be used at UN official meetings and in the context of peacekeeping operations.
French is also, along with English, one of the two working languages of the organization. Thus, to be recruited within the United Nations Secretariat, it is necessary to master one of these two working languages.
France plays an active role to preserve linguistic diversity at the UN.
Francophonie at the UN
Established in 1970, the Agence de coopération culturelle et technique (Agency of cultural and technical cooperation - ACCT) - now the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) - holds an observer status at the United Nations since 1998, like a dozen other regional organizations, and has a permanent office in New York.
The OIF 88 states and governments represent more than a third of the United Nations member states.
Every two years, a resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie is submitted for adoption to the General Assembly. It underlines the strengthening cooperation between the two Organizations, takes note of the commitments reaffirmed by Francophone States and governments at the last Francophonie Summit and recalls the main areas of cooperation between the United Nations and the OIF, which are the promotion of multilingualism, OIF’s contribution to crisis resolution, crisis resolution and peacebuilding, and the development of cooperation in the peacekeeping sector.
OIF Member States are committed to ensuring that their representatives use French in international organizations exclusively, preferentially or equitably, depending on the status of the language in the concerned country.
Group of Francophone Ambassadors in New York
The Ambassadors of French-speaking Permanent Missions to the United Nations in New York meet regularly within the "Groupe des Ambassadeurs francophones" (Group of French-speaking Ambassadors). This group brings together diplomatic representatives from the 88 member and observer states of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, with a view to promoting and consolidating multilingualism at the United Nations, and contributing to a Francophone dialogue that enhances the expertise of member states and enriches the content of major international debates.
Key Figures on French in the World (2022)
- 5th world language
- 321 million French speakers in the world, including 255 million daily speakers
- 13 countries in which more than 50% of the population speaks French
- 60% of daily speakers live in Africa
- 93 million students are schooled in French
- 51 million people learn French, which is the 2nd most taught foreign language
- 4th language on the Internet