One of the main commitments of the International Organization of La Francophonie (Oif), particularly in the terms of the Bamako Declaration of November 3, 2000, is to work for “the promotion of an internalized democratic culture and full respect for human rights”. humans” (§4D).

In effect, while adhering to its main mission, which is to promote the French language, considered in turn as a vehicle for the transmission of universal values ​​and fundamental principles to which the Francophonie systematically refers, the field of intervention of this international organization has been greatly expanded. to almost every major challenge facing the international community today. La Francophonie has thus gradually developed and consolidated a multidimensional practice that is mainly related to three areas of great importance, in particular:
The promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law;
Solidarity in the face of common challenges;
And conflict management.

La Francophonie, a political community bearer of values

La Francophonie is clearly positioned as a political community that upholds universal values, principles and requirements, including in terms of human rights and fundamental freedoms, pluralist democracy and the rule of law, which must be consolidated and preserved in any case.

It is in light of this strategic positioning that we understand the institutional development and political action of La Francophonie, particularly through what constitutes the basis of the political philosophy of this international organization, namely:
The Hanoi Declaration of November 16, 1997, an important step in the evolutionary process of the Francophonie institutions;
The Bamako Declaration of November 3, 2000, reference normative text of the Francophonie, which provides this organization with means of action in case of non-compliance with democratic legality or serious violations of human rights in a Member State. Indeed, on the basis of the provisions of the Charter of the Francophonie, which enshrine as priority objectives assistance in the establishment and development of democracy, conflict prevention and support for the rule of law and human rights, the Member States of the French-speaking organization have clearly committed themselves to an internalized democratic culture and full respect for human rights;
The San Bonifacio Declaration of May 14, 2006 usefully completes the Bamako mechanism, expanding the political dimension of La Francophonie.

Being the promotion of democracy and the entrenchment of the rule of law at the heart of the Francophone project, reflected in the aforementioned commitments, the annual celebrations of the International Day of La Francophonie should also be appropriate occasions to question reality in depth. of democratic practices and the rule of law throughout the French-speaking world, without exceptions or indulgences.

It would then be a kind of universal periodic review of the rule of law and democracy in all the countries of the French-speaking world.
Indeed, “the promotion of an internalized democratic culture and full respect for human rights”, longed for as such by the Francophonie, can only be translated into reality through concrete actions in favor of the consolidation of the rule of law, the celebration of freedoms, safe, regular and transparent elections, the establishment of a peaceful political life, etc., which are also among the deep aspirations of the peoples of the French-speaking world.

For a 21st century Francophonie

To put it bluntly, it must be admitted that the trivialization of unconstitutional political changes in the francophone world, mainly in Africa, in particular in the form of military coups, gross modifications of the constitutions for additional mandates, even unlimited, patrimonialization of power of the State…, they are great challenges and very topical both for the peoples and for the international institution in charge of La Francophonie.
These practices are inherently unacceptable for at least three main reasons:
In the first place, when we thought they were gone forever, they openly place themselves upstream from the essential values ​​defended by La Francophonie and the aspirations of citizens. These practices also tend, and invariably, to unfairly discredit francophone peoples and democratic cultures;
Second, they systematically undermine efforts to promote “[…] an internalized democratic culture and full respect for human rights” in the francophone world, to establish a peaceful political life…

Finally, they are intrinsically dangerous, in particular because of the recurrent violence and political instability they generate, with their corresponding misfortunes for the people.

More than 50 years after the creation of the Francophone international organization, the need for an in-depth debate with a view to a Francophonie of the 21st century is essential. However, to speak of a Francophonie of the 21st century is also to subscribe to the fundamental idea of ​​a Francophonie resolutely oriented towards the future and more towards the people, faithful to its noble objectives, demanding of itself and of all its members with respect to the effective respect of the values ​​and principles on which it is based. In other words, actively working for a Francophonie that is truly at the service of the deep aspirations of the people, among which, of course, are the rule of law and democracy. This, once again, must be concretely translated into the holding of free, transparent, credible and regular elections, as well as the establishment of a peaceful political life, etc.

Roger Koude
Professor of International Law
Holder of the UNESCO Chair “Memory, Cultures and Interculturality” at the Catholic University of Lyon. His latest book, entitled Discourse on Peace, Justice and Effective Institutions, is published by Editions des Archives Contemporaines (Paris, 3/2021), with a foreword by Dr. Denis Mukwege, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

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