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International Decade of Indigenous Languages


Group of two women and three men sit at a table. Atop the table are microphones and computer terminals. In the background is a timber wall.
The 12th session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) (Photo courtesy of UNESCO website)
5 Feb 2020

The United Nations has agreed that more work is needed to protect, revitalise, preserve and promote Indigenous languages.

It has designated the period between 2022 and 2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages.

In a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December last year, the UN calls upon the world to ‘take urgent steps at the national and international levels’.

The resolution came at the close of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages over which the UN presided, and recognised that one year was not enough time to put in place the necessary programs and processes to ensure success.

‘The proclamation of a decade is strongly supported by a wide range of stakeholders. There is consensus that the decade would contribute to raise global awareness about the importance of indigenous languages for sustainable development, peace-building and reconciliation, and mobilize further resources for the support and promotion of indigenous languages worldwide.

The UN invites ‘indigenous peoples — as custodians — to initiate ideas for preserving this endangered facet of their cultural and social life’.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is the agency most likely to take responsibility for the decade.

For more information, see Building the legacy of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages.

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