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United Nations OIF Permanent Representative meets Secretary-General of EDU

His Excellency Irving Levance declared himself “ enchanté ” to meet Son Excellence Filippe Savadogo, the talented and charming diplomat originally from Burkina Faso, who is the Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie,. This intergovernmental organization represents that bloc of states which have French as the mother or customary language, where a significant proportion of people are francophones (French speakers), or where there is a notable affiliation with the French language or culture.

Formally known as the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) or the International Organization of the Francophonie, the organization comprises 56 member states and governments, 3 associate members, and 19 observers. The term francophonie (with a lower case 'f') also refers to the global community of French-speaking peoples and to the network of private and public organizations promoting special ties among all Francophones.

The Secretary General was interested to learn that in a majority of member states, French is not actually the predominant native language. The prerequisite for admission to the Francophonie is not the degree of French usage in the member countries, but a prevalent presence of French culture and language in the member country's cultural identity.



The word was originally coined by French geographer Onésime Reclus, brother of Élisée Reclus, to refer to the community of people and countries using the French language.

However, this concept was only formally crystallized when the modern organization was created in 1970. Its motto is égalité, complémentarité, solidarité ("equality, complementarity, and solidarity"), is based on the motto of France. Francophonie started as a small club of northern French-speaking countries and has since evolved into a global organization whose numerous branches cooperate with its member states in the fields of culture, science, economy, justice, and peace.

The Convention which created the Agency for Cultural and Technical Co-operation (Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique) was signed on March 20, 1970 by the representatives of the 21 states and governments under the influence of African Heads of State, Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal, Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, Hamani Diori of Niger and Prince Norodom Sihanouk.

The missions of this new intergovernmental organization, based on the sharing of the French language, are the promotion of the cultures of its members and the intensification of the cultural and technical cooperation between them, as well as the solidarity and the connection between them through dialogue.

In 1998 the Francophonie project became the intergovernmental Agency of the Francophonie (Agence intergouvernementale de la Francophonie) to emphasize its intergovernmental status. Finally in 2005, the adoption of a new Charter of the Francophonie (la Charte de la Francophonie) gives the name to the Agency of the International Organization of the Francophonie (Organisation internationale de la Francophonie).

About Ambassador Savadogo

Prior to his current appointment, Mr. Savadogo was the Minister for Culture, Tourism and Communications of his native Burkina Faso from June 2007 to April 2011, a period in which he also served as Government Spokesman responsible for La Francophonie.

Between September 1996 and August 2007, he was Ambassador to France, accredited also to Spain, Portugal, Vatican City and Tunisia, while serving simultaneously as Permanent Delegate to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  During the same period, he served as Personal Representative of the President to the Permanent Council of the Francophonie.

From 1984 to 1996, Mr. Savadogo was the Permanent Secretary-General of the Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou.

He was educated at the University of Ouagadougou, the University of Bordeaux II and III, the Institut Français de Presse at the University of Paris II (Panthéon), and at the University of Paris III (Sorbonne Nouvelle).

The two diplomats discussed language and translation issues and international approaches to education, specifically the challenges faced by globalization. They agreed to remain in contact and to explore future avenues of cooperation between the two intergovernmental organizations.

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