The Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (French: L'Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF)) was founded on 20 March 1970 at Niamey, Niger. It aims to strengthen peace, democracy and solidarity in French-speaking countries or 'the Francophonie'. The OIF comprises 88 member states and governments (54 member, 27 observer and 7 associate states), which together represent over one-third of the United Nations’ member states and account for a population of 900 million people, including 300 million French speakers.
French is also the world's fifth most spoken language and fourth most used language on the Internet, with some 132 million people learning French as a foreign language around the world.
For more information: International Organization of the Francophonie.
Lithuania and the International Organization of la Francophonie
Lithuania was granted observer status by the organisation at the Francophone Summit in Monkton, Canada, on 4 September 1999. Observer status is often granted to those states, where French is not their first or second language. Observer status means representatives of Lithuania can attend all regular meetings of the organisation, but will not have the right to speak at:
- Ministerial Conferences (can make statements, if permitted by the Presidency).
Areas of cooperation
Cooperation with the OIF remains as important and necessary for Lithuania as ever due to several reasons: we develop Lithuanian ambassadors’ activities in francophone groups, participate in the countries’ regional or thematic seminars organised by the OIF partners, internships, and seek full support of the francophone countries for Lithuania’s candidatures for various international organisations. French is still one of the world's most useful languages. It is also most popular among civil servants.
Lithuania supports the OIF’s work on conflict prevention, climate change, ocean protection, human rights, and youth empowerment. We are particularly concerned about the issues of girls and women’s education, gender equality, and women’s empowerment. A francophone space opens up new opportunities for Lithuania not only for multicultural, but also political economic and social cooperation.
The OIF plays a vital role in ensuring peace and security, developing democracy (implementing election observation missions in French-speaking countries), protecting human rights, strengthening multilateralism, sustainable development and solidarity, and ensuring gender equality. The OIF is also active in the fields of education (the activities of francophone universities, support for the right to literacy, research projects), multilingualism (the challenge to make French a major language of communication and business in the world), culture and economy (francophone consultation on key multilateral trade negotiations, activities of the Economic Forum of the Francophonie.
The Francophonie in Lithuania
French is spoken by 2.37 % people in Lithuania and the francophone community is even larger. The International Francophonie Day has been annually observed in Lithuania since 20 March 2000. On that occasion, partners of the Francophonie in Lithuania are organising throughout the whole of March various events aimed to acquaint the people of Lithuania with the culture, politics, and history of the Francophonie, and to give them an opportunity to learn about frankophone objects in Lithuania. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organises the opening of the Francophonie Month and presents a different country of the OIF every year in March.