International Day of the Francophonie
Each March, days or weeks of the Francophonie are held around the world, and 20 March is celebrated as the International Day of the Francophonie. This year, the Day is devoted to the youth of all countries and continents, their inclusion in the quest for democracy and peace in the world. Addressing the youth at the occasion, Abdou Diouf, Secretary General of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF), stressed the need for change in education, the importance of establishing innovative development policies, and the aim of strengthening intercultural dialogue and cooperation. At a time at which the young in numerous countries are expressing their dissatisfaction and demanding changes through public manifestations, this year's Day of the Francophonie represents a symbolic sign of its developmental path from an international organization which brings together countries of French linguistic expression with the goal of promoting the French language, to one which focuses on promoting democracy, peace, education for all, and cultural and linguistic diversity.
Founded in 1970 in Niamey, Niger, the Organisation has been renamed several times, gradually expanding the contents and areas of its activity. This development is especially reflected in the mobilization for the protection, preservation and promotion of cultural diversity. At the 33rd session of UNESCO's General Conference in 2005, the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions was adopted. With, at the time, 63 member states and observers, IOF played an important role in the Convention's adoption process and the later call for its ratification. The Francophonie today gathers 75 countries, of which 56 member states and 19 observers.
The promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity as primary principle of modern society, making use of new information and communication technologies in education, the independence and pluralism of public and private media, the bridging of the digital divide through digital solidarity, are key factors of the Francophonie's activities. Numerous projects, such as the francophone volunteering project strengthening South-South cooperation, joint sustainable development and solidarity projects, educational, scientific and sports projects, promote new forms of cooperation and partnership. Partner relations are established with other international organizations, with the private sector and with civil society. The Francophonie aims to build new approaches towards intercultural dialogue and communication, through which the identity and experiences of different nations and societies are affirmed.