Languages around the world continue to disappear at alarming rates. The large majority of the languages in danger are spoken by indigenous peoples, placing at risk the respective indigenous cultures and knowledge systems. To draw attention to the critical loss of indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote them at both national and international levels, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2019 as International Year of Indigenous Languages. The launch of the year will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 28 January. A UNHQ launch event is planned for 1 February.
It is through language that we communicate with the world, define our identity, express our history and culture, learn, defend our human rights and participate in all aspects of society, to name but a few. Through language, people preserve their community’s history, customs and traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking, meaning and expression. They also use it to construct their future.
Language is pivotal in the areas of human rights protection, good governance, peace building, reconciliation, and sustainable development.
IYIL2019 will promote indigenous languages in these five key areas
- Increasing understanding, reconciliation and international cooperation.
- Creation of favourable conditions for knowledge-sharing and dissemination of good practices with regards to indigenous languages.
- Integration of indigenous languages into standard setting.
- Empowerment through capacity building.
- Growth and development through elaboration of new knowledge.