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Updated on 3 November 2015


Section 9:   Regional and subregional organizations


The growing relationship between la Francophonie and the Security Council


The International Organization of la Francophonie (“IOF” or “la Francophonie”) was established in 1970 with the signing of the convention which created the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation.  The Organization took its present name in 1997.  The IOF has enjoyed observer status in the UN General Assembly since 1978 (Resolution 33/18 of 10 November 1978 and Decision 53/453 of 18 December 1998). La Francophonie has a membership of 80 States and Governments, including 76 UN Member States.


Primarily focused on the promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity, the IOF has become increasingly involved in the maintenance of international peace and security, especially after the adoption of the Charter of la Francophonie in 1997.  Since then, it has set up a legal framework and programmes on peacekeeping, peacebuilding, mediation, and conflict prevention, management and resolution, as well as on the rule of law and human rights. Its developing interface with the Security Council took a noteworthy step in March 2015 when the Permanent Representative of France, in his capacity as President of the Security Council, met with the Secretary General of la Francophonie during her first official visit to New York (S/PV.7422). This first high-level interaction is expected to pave the way for enhancing institutional cooperation between the two bodies in the future.


The Security Council agenda is largely dominated by African situations, of which many involve francophone countries.  In the spirit of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter and of the Charter of la Francophonie, the IOF has undertaken a number of actions in support of the maintenance of international peace and security, for which the Security Council bears primary responsibility. The IOF has developed considerable expertise in early warning, as well as in crisis and conflict prevention in its Member States. The most recent biennial UN General Assembly resolution on “Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Organization of la Francophonie”, which was adopted by consensus on 2 April 2015, highlights the “interest in intensifying efforts to move from early warning to rapid response” as part of the cooperation between the two organizations (A/RES/69/270, para. 8).    


Further, the Secretary General of la Francophonie has frequently used his/her good offices and mediation roles to prevent crises, to advocate peaceful settlement of political disputes, and to support national reconciliation efforts. The appointment of IOF Mediators, Special Envoys and Representatives has increased over the last few years, most recently in connection with the Great Lakes Region, Guinea, the Central African Republic and Burundi. These high-level Francophonie officials work closely with the Special Representatives of the UN Secretary General (SRSGs) on the ground, as was indicated by SRSG Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), in his briefing to the Security Council on 7 July 2015.


While the IOF does not deploy troops under its own authority, it plays an important advocacy role by encouraging its Members to contribute troops to UN peacekeeping operations, in particular in francophone countries. This commitment started in 2004, when the UN Secretary-General called on his counterpart in la Francophonie to encourage francophone countries to participate in the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).  It has now become standard practice for the Secretary General of la Francophonie to make similar appeals whenever a new UN peacekeeping mission is established in a francophone country.


According to figures from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, compiled by the Francophone Expertise and Training Network for Peace Operations, as at June 2015, francophone personnel – in uniform and civilians – constitute 34.91 percent of all such personnel serving in UN peacekeeping operations.


The IOF seeks to ensure that francophone countries contribute effectively in peacekeeping missions, particularly when deployment is to a francophone country, as well as to advocate for the respect of multilingualism and the linguistic dimension and for the utilization of francophone expertise in civilian components.  Recommendations along these lines were submitted by the IOF to the High-level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations, appointed in October 2014 by the UN Secretary General, and chaired by the former President of Timor-Leste, José Ramos-Horta.


The IOF participates as an observer in the work of the General Assembly’s Special Committee on peacekeeping operations (“C-34”).  In 2015, the IOF contributed for the first time to the general debate of the C-34 2015 substantive session, particularly by underscoring the attachment of la Francophonie to the linguistic dimension in peace operations and encouraging the UN Secretariat to make multilingualism a reality in peacekeeping activities.


The IOF, through its Permanent Observer Mission to the UN, regularly attends Security Council open debates as well as other public Council meetings on specific country situations and thematic issues.  However, the IOF has not yet addressed the Security Council – either as a speaker or a briefer – under Rule 39 of the Council’s Provisional Rules of Procedure.  Prior to major open debates and other relevant Council meetings, the IOF often organizes meetings with Experts and/or Permanent Representatives of the UN Francophone Group in order to share views with high-level UN officials, scholars and/or practitioners.


In addition, the IOF maintains an interest in the work of some of the Council’s working groups, especially those relating to peacekeeping operations, children and armed conflict, and conflict prevention and resolution in Africa.  In this context, IOF representatives have had the opportunity to interact with Council members and non-members on these issues, concerning which it has developed policies and programmes.


Further, the IOF is a member of four country configurations – Burundi, the Central African Republic, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau – of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), which is a joint subsidiary body of the General Assembly and the Security Council.  These PBC forums have regularly been used by the IOF to share its views and convey information about its actions on the ground, including supporting political dialogue and national reconciliation; strengthening national capacities in the field of human rights, security and justice sectors reform; the fight against impunity; empowerment of women, etc.   


Given the high number of situations on the Security Council’s agenda which relate to francophone countries, and in light of the increasing involvement of the IOF in the maintenance of international peace and security, it is foreseeable that institutional cooperation and coordination between the two bodies will increase over time, in line with the spirit of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter.  



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