27 May 2013, Geneva, Switzerland - Totaling more than 800 million people from 56 member states and governments and 13 observers, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) is an international organization founded on a common language and a shared set of strong values. The main goal of OIF is to contribute to improving standards of living in member countries by empowering citizens to take charge of their development. OIF also supports its member countries in the areas of policy formulation and consolidation, and is active in the areas of international politics and development cooperation.

In this context, the community of practice contributes to utilizing the knowledge and experience available in French speaking countries in order to promote cooperation and exchange in the field of international trade. Among the activities and resources that the community offers officials and delegates are a digital library of reference materials, collaborative tools, and online discussions on priority issues related to the integration of French speaking countries into the global economy.
The first results of the community are very encouraging. More than 400 francophone officials and delegates participate each week with great enthusiasm to the online discussions, which are moderated by high-level experts.
Below are two comments received from members of the community:
"As we live in the era of information and communication technologies, this community will help me better understand trade negotiations. Moreover, I registered to be able to participate and debate with you the lessons learned from past international trade negotiations." - Daher Ahmed Gaouden, Djibouti
"I started to read some of the postings, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the level of knowledge and expertise of the members of the community." - Suzie Ethier, Canada
The topics discussed last month focused on the following issues, which are top priorities for most developing countries: regulation of trade defense measures under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) system, linkages between trade and development, and resolution of different types of international disputes. This month members will be invited to discuss the perspectives the WTO offers for Africa, and to analyze the participation and involvement of African countries in the WTO since its establishment in 1995.
The community of practice is a collaboration that enriches a long-standing partnership between UNITAR and OIF. Through a series of online courses in the field of international trade, UNITAR and OIF have indeed trained more than 750 government officials, private sector professionals, and civil society leaders in francophone developing countries during the last five years.

For additional information about the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (in English): http://www.francophonie.org/English.html.

To view this article in French: http://www.unitar.org/fr/l-unitar-et-l-oif-lancent-le-reseau-francophone-des-praticiens-en-negociations-commerciales