Earlier this week (March 20, 2013) was the celebration of the International Day of Francophonie (Journée Internationale de la Francophonie). The event was created in 1988 (introduced to the UN system in 2010) as a day celebrated by the French-speaking world to celebrate their common bond and embrace their diversity. The French-speaking world today makes up about 220 million people across 33 countries and is the official language of 32 states (apart from France); this is a figure that will continue to grow with the advancement of globalization.
United Nations (UN) officials pointed to the power of the French language to bring people together and emphasized its importance as a tool for mutual understanding and peace. UN officials stress the importance of linguistic diversity to understand and respect the many cultures of the world.
UNESCO emphasizes the importance of linguistic diversity as a condition for sincere and authentic international cooperation. During the celebration, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon received the Leopold Sear Senghor Medal, “le Grand Prix de la Francophonie,” awarded to the UN for its aid in developing the French language as an international tool.
Mr. Ban is expected to pay tribute to the place of French in international cooperation, including the need for more French-speaking staff in UN peacekeeping operations for crucial dialogue with local populations.
International language days were introduced to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity in the six official languages of the UN Organization (Chinese, English, Russian, Spanish, and Arabic).