On 16 October, President Abdou Diouf, Secretary General of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) was the guest of honor at the lunch of the Group of Francophone Ambassadors at UNESCO, in the presence of the Chairperson of the Executive Board, His Excellency Mr. Mohamed Sameh Amr.
Recalling the important stages of Abdou Diouf’s path, the Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Senegal to UNESCO, Mame Fatim Gueye highlighted the formative years of the life of the Secretary -- "from your childhood you have acquired a taste for harmonious interweaving of cultures that goes beyond tolerance," she said, underlining the moral conviction and humanist values of President Diouf. The Permanent Delegate and Chairperson of the Group of Francophone Ambassadors at UNESCO also welcomed the commitment of the Director-General to strengthen linguistic diversity, in particular the use of French in the Organization.
"UNESCO and the International Organization of La Francophonie have forged a special relationship, and that's largely thanks to you," said the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova. "Your commitment to diversity underpins your fight for the Francophonie, and somehow, I think it's this broad vision that gave your fight such resonance, even among non-francophones," she continued. "You have shown that the fight for the Francophonie is not only a struggle for a language, but a struggle for values and a vision of the world, against a monolithic culture, against linguistic uniformity."
In turn, Abdou Diouf paid tribute to UNESCO -- "symbol of the highest values we share, I sincerely hope that this cooperation not only continues but deepens as the OIF and UNESCO have important milestones coming up – the elaboration of the post-2015 agenda, the role of culture in sustainable development, global advocacy for teacher training, and in this period of turmoil, our status as an international organization requires for us to stay close to the needs of the people, to help contribute to building an international Rule of Law."
President Diouf also praised the vitality of francophone groups: "There are 43 groups of Francophone Ambassadors in the world. I know the dynamics of the Group of Francophone Ambassadors at UNESCO and there is another one that has just been created in Paris. I look forward to this dynamism, which offers a pool of Francophone and Francophile militants."
Former President of Senegal, Abdou Diouf was elected Secretary General of La Francophonie in 2002, his mandate was subsequently renewed in 2006 and in 2010. His third term ends this year.