Marking the 40th anniversary of the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF), a global community of French-speaking people, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the head of the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) drew similarities between the two organizations’ commitment to peace and dialogue.
“For 40 years, your organization has contributed directly to building a better world, a goal we share," said Mr. Ban in a French-language video message. “It promotes diversity, contacts between people and humanism.”
“Our organizations are based on one principle: we are stronger together in all our diversity, and separately,” the Secretary-General said, calling for the need to “continue to promote our common values, those that concern peace, human rights, for 40 years ahead and beyond.”
Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, spoke of his love of French.
“I am Japanese, as you may know, but for a very long time, I have loved your language,” he said in a speech to mark the day in New York.
“I also know that French is a bridge between people of different ethnic groups, native languages, religions, cultures and even different culinary traditions,” Mr. Akasaka added, saying that French occupied a prominent place at the UN. French and English are the UN’s two working languages.
“The OIF and the UN have another language in common: the language of peace,” Mr. Akasaka said. “From Canada to the Congo, Viet Nam or Cape Verde, the organization represents a world that values and promotes language and the values and cultures that it brings,” he said, arguing that French “serves as a bridge between countries of a region but also between regions within a country.”
Mr. Akasaka said that the day was also an occasion to express solidarity with Haiti, which he said was a beacon of French culture through its literature, its music and its diaspora, following January’s catastrophic earthquake. “A country that has been so imbued with French that it used it to create a sister language, the Creole,” he added.