La Francophonie: A Political Actor on the World Stage
Michaëlle Jean said international organizations like the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (La Francophonie, OIF) is necessary for the world to combat international crises fearlessly
Hervé Ladsous asserts that French retains its full value in the contemporary world
Bintou Keita strengthens the importance of language diversity, with a fear of limited communication with people who need protection
Narjess Saïdane pointed out that language diversity could be achieved by mobilizing English speakers within the promotion of multilingual environments
Anne-Cécile Roberts suggested that English should not be the only spoken language at occasions
La Francophonie: A Political Actor on the World Stage is the first conference of the debate series Le Monde Diplomatique, presented by the NYU Program in International Relations, Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (La Francophonie or OIF), and Le Monde Diplomatique Debates. Held on Sept. 26 at the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Film Center, the conference featured several prestigious guests: Michaëlle Jean, Bintou Keita, Hervé Ladsous, Anne-Cécile Robert, Narjess Saïdane, Romuald Sciora and John Williams, Program Director of the NYU Program in International Relations.
The conference started off with Michaëlle Jean, the former governor-general of Canada and current Secretary-General of the OIF, introducing the OIF as an international organization uniting francophone countries and regions through its involvement in the education of French language, science, economy, and peacekeeping.
Williams asked Hervé Ladsous, the former UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and current special adviser to the Secretary-General of the OIF, about the rationale behind hosting an event at an English-speaking university like NYU. Ladsous replied that the French language, with its long history and usefulness as a legal and diplomatic tool, is necessary for potential young diplomats to master.
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bintou Keita recalled hiring an Arabic interpreter to communicate with local officials in another country. She stated that multilingualism is more than necessary in enhancing peacekeeping missions as it enables direct communication with local officials and citizens.
Narjess Saïdane, the OIF’s ambassador to the UN, discussed the motivations behind preserving Francophone culture from a Tunisian perspective. Saïdane proposed the use of the French language as a way to look at the world and engage with others. As a lingua franca spoken by people who speak other native languages, French offers a uniform logic of interaction. Saïdane pointed out that the desire of using the language mobilizes English speakers to engage with other people using French, permitting them to access the distinct logic of a different language.
Both Romuald Sciora, head of Le Monde Diplomatique Debates, and Anne-Cécile Robert from Le Monde Diplomatique stressed the importance of expanding the use of the French language politically. While Sciora pointed out that the United Nations’ decreasing political presence in the world stage does not contribute much to the promotion of the French language, Robert said the French government is not doing enough to defend Francophonie culture.
This report was compiled by Julia Guo on October, 3, 2018 and edited by Jamin Chen. All photos were taken by Julia Guo.