For Jean, the address to the opening session of the summit of la Francophonie in Yerevan, Armenia was a final stand ahead of a closed-door meeting of members Friday to choose the next secretary general. Her words were clearly aimed at her rival for the post, Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.
Video: 17th Francophonie summit kicks off in Armenia | Al Jazeera English
"At a moment when we march toward the 50th anniversary of la Francophonie, let's ask ourselves here in Yerevan, in all conscience and in all responsibility, on which side of history do we want to be," Jean said.
Mushikiwabo had the support of France and several African Union countries going into the summit and both Canada and Quebec said they would back the consensus candidate, pulling their support for Jean earlier this week.
"Are we ready to accept that international organizations are used for partisan purposes?" Jean asked. "Are we ready to accept that democracy, rights and freedoms are reduced to mere words, that we make them meaningless in the name of realpolitik?"
The former Canadian governor general, who has held the top job at the organization of French-speaking nations since 2014, is facing an uphill battle as she seeks a second term.
After months of supporting her, the Canadian and Quebec governments announced this week that they would rally around the "consensus" candidate, Mushikiwabo. Traditionally, the selection of a secretary general is by agreement, not through a vote.
At a moment when we march toward the 50th anniversary of la Francophonie, lets ask ourselves here in Yerevan, in all conscience and in all responsibility, on which side of history do we want to be, Jean said.
Mushikiwabo already had the support of France — which is the main funder of la Francophonie — and many African Union countries.
YEREVAN, Armenia – Michaelle Jean lost her bid for a second term as secretary general of la Francophonie on Friday, as member nations opted for Rwandas foreign minister to take up the mantle going forward.
Rwanda has managed to secure support for Mushikiwabo's candidacy despite its poor record upholding democratic rights and freedom of the press. Rwandan President Paul Kagame has been labelled an authoritarian by rights groups.
Jean, however, refused to back down amid diminishing chances of securing another term. Her spokesman, Bertin Leblanc, has said any consensus must be reached by the heads of state and governments behind closed doors.
Meanwhile, a source close to Jean's campaign says some African leaders are uncomfortable with the idea of a done deal and have even told her directly that they find themselves in an impossible position.
According to a survey by Radio France International, the Haitian-born Jean had the support of 17 or 18 delegations on the eve of the summit. La Francophonie has 54 full member states and governments.
Canada also had to consider its relationship with France – President Emmanuel Macron had backed the Rwandan bid in a move widely seen as increasing that countrys influence in Africa.
Earlier Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised the "remarkable work" done by the former governor general, who has focused on women, youth and human rights while in the post.
"Michaelle affirmed herself as an ardent defender of women, notably by asserting their right to education and fighting for their emancipation," Trudeau told heads of state in the Armenian capital, lauding her dedication and contagious energy.
Trudeau and Jean had a one-on-one meeting upon the prime minister's arrival in Yerevan but no details were released.
Despite not backing her, French President Emmanuel Macron also paid homage to Jean's defence of women's rights.
"La Francophonie must be the space that fights for the rights of women, and I want to salute the work that was done by Michaelle Jean, to whom I pay tribute, who strongly mobilized in this fight," Macron said near the end of his opening remarks.
In a closed session at the organizations biennial summit in Armenia, members of the organization of French-speaking nations chose Louise Mushikiwabo to replace Jean.
"La Francophonie must be feminist, and you were right, madame secretary general, not to give up in this fight."
Trudeau also paid tribute to the late Charles Aznavour, whose music was playing throughout the site of the summit. The French-Armenian singer died Oct. 1.
"When I arrived in Armenia, I immediately thought of a great man I loved so much, a great lover of the French language who died last week, the incomparable Charles Aznavour," Trudeau said.
"In the days following his death, francophones and francophiles of the world united in mourning through his work. This momentum of solidarity was perhaps the greatest tribute that could have been made to him."
To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.
It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec premier-designate François Legault at the Francophonie summit in Yerevan, Armenia
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec premier-designate François Legault took part in a family photo at the Francophonie summit in Yerevan, Armenia on Thursday.