9.6 Intercontinental youth work and development cooperation
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Several international solidarity schemes for young people promote international cooperation between young people, but also between youth professionals in France and other countries
The international Solidarity scheme
Since 1991, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministère des Affaires étrangères) has overseen the City, Life, Holidays/International Solidarity (VVV/SI – Ville, Vie, Vacances/Solidarité Internationale) initiative and, since 1997, the Youth, International Solidarity (JSI – Jeunesse, Solidarité Internationale) initiative, which together form a single programme.
This programme enables groups of young people from France and abroad to participate in intercultural gatherings as part of international solidarity efforts in France or abroad.
These subsidy schemes depend on partnerships between public authorities (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and associations – particularly youth associations – that are responsible for designing solidarity projects.
Projects proposed as part of this scheme must be led by young people and must help young people from countries eligible for public development aid to come together and work on international solidarity projects, both abroad and in France.
Since their inception, these initiatives have enabled the co-financing and successful implementation of more than 600 international solidarity projects involving over 11,000 young French people in over 35 different countries (and France). The aid amounts to a maximum of €8,500, rising to €10,000 for projects from the French Overseas Territories and Corsica.
The progam targets youth groups of 15 and 25 y/o and preferably of mixed gender wishing to carry out projects (cultural, entrepreneurship, environmental protection) in partnership with young people of their age from other countries.
For further information on such schemes, see Chapter 2 Voluntary activities. Stand-alone law.
International solidarity initiatives
The Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE – Ministère de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères) launched the “International Solidarity Initiative” (ISI – initiative en faveur de la solidarité internationale) in June 2019. - See Chapter 9.4.
The action to support the French-speaking world at international level is run within the institutional context of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF): 56 member states and governments and 19 observers, of which France is a member. The main instrument to promote cooperation for young people (and sports) is the Conference of Youth and Sports Ministers of Francophonie / Conférence des ministres de la Jeunesse et des Sports de la Francophonie (CONFEJES).
The CONFEJES plays the role of a permanent ministerial conference responsible for identifying policy directions for young people. It is also involved in running the action programmes to support young French-speakers in Southern countries. In particular, France supports the Youth Entrepreneurship Promotion Programme / Programme de promotion de l’entreprenariat des jeunes (mainly micro-enterprises) for young people from “Southern” French-speaking countries.
Other volunteering schemes are offered by the ministry, in partnership with NGOs/associations. For more information, see Chapter 2 on Voluntary activities.
Development of cooperation activities
Inter-State cooperation activities on youth matters and policies
Action in favour of the Francophonie at the international level is carried out within the institutional framework of the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF): 56 member states and governments and 19 observers, of which France is a member. The main instrument of cooperation in the field of youth (and sports) is the Conference of Ministers of Youth and Sports of the Francophonie (CONFEJES).
CONFEJES plays both the role of a permanent ministerial conference responsible for establishing political guidelines for youth policies and that of an operator responsible for implementing action programmes in favour of young Francophones in southern countries. France particularly supports the Youth Entrepreneurship Promotion Programme (mainly micro-enterprises), which targets young people in French-speaking countries in the "South".
Youth Ambassadors for Community Service (Jeunes ambassadeurs de l’engagement associatif)
The United States Embassy introduced a programme called “Youth Ambassadors for Community Service” (Jeunes ambassadeurs de l’engagement associatif) in 2008 to invite young people to the US for a two-week period. The programme is aimed at high school (lycée) students who are actively involved in an association (either as employees or as part of "bénévolat" activities) and seeks to raise awareness among young people of civic and community involvement.
During their trip, the youth ambassadors act as representatives of France in the US and are encouraged to discuss issues such as cultural diversity, equal opportunities, and community service. The aim of this initiative is to encourage the political participation and commitment of young people, and to encourage intercultural dialogue.
The offices supporting young people
Apart from these Ministry of Foreign Affairs programmes and schemes, the bilateral offices such as the Franco-German Youth Office/ Office franco-allemand de la jeunesse (OFAJ) and the Franco-Québécois Youth Office / Office franco-québécois (OFQJ) are also involved in this interstate cooperation, via actions to support young people and youth exchange programmes.
Franco-German Youth Office / Office franco-allemand de la jeunesse (OFAJ)
The OFAJ, which is celebrating its 60 year anniversary, aims to promote exchanges between young people and youth workers between Germany and France. It supports around 8 000 projects by and was impacting, before the Covid-19 crisis, 190 000 young people per year.
Franco-Québécois Youth Office / Office franco-québécois pour la jeunesse (OFQJ)
The OFQJ aims to develop relationships between young French people and young Quebecois, to promote an opening up of these relationships to the whole French-speaking world and to contribute to promoting this. Since its creation, more than 160 000 young people have taken part in actions initiated by the Office.
(For more information on OFAJ and OFQJ see Chapter 2.6)