The memorandum of agreement creating La Francophonie’s Demographic and Statistical Observatory was ratified on March 25 in Montréal in the presence of Abdou Diouf, Secretary General of the International Francophone Organization (OIF). The Observatory’s creation stems from a pledge made by Québec Premier Jean Charest at the 12th Francophone Summit, which was held in Québec City in October 2008.
According to the Ministry of International Relations website, “The agreement was signed by Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie Pierre Arcand, OIF Director Clément Duhaime, Francophone University Agency (AUF) Rector Bernard Cerquiglini, and Laval University Vice-Rector for International Studies and Activities Nicole Lacasse.”.
The Observatory will facilitate the creation of a linguistic atlas providing an overview of the French language’s ever-changing worldwide role. A variety of analyses, studies, and other data will be compiled and submitted to OIF to help heads of state and government make strategic decisions aimed at introducing more targeted measures promoting the use of French.
Expressing satisfaction with the agreement, Mr. Diouf said “In response to calls for OIF and the members of La Francophonie to focus on results-oriented management and to develop performance indicators for the initiatives they undertake, tracking the evolving status of the French language will be essential.”
According to Mr. Arcand, “The creation of this Observatory will serve to promote Québec’s demographic and linguistic expertise in the international arena. Our government’s commitment in this regard testifies to the importance that Québec attaches to the French language here and around the world.”
As an initiative of the Government of Québec, the Observatory will operate for the next four years; $650,000 in funding was provided by a partnership between OIF, AUF, and Laval University. Secrétariat à la politique linguistique du Québec (Québec’s Language Policy Secretariat) will take an active part by providing policy development and implementation expertise, while AUF will mobilize its research networks, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere, to ensure their full participation. Laval University—the site of the new Observatory—will play a scientific leadership role, in addition to providing access to its documentary resources. The Observatory’s director will be selected from among the university’s faculty.”