Languages are a core component of human rights and fundamental freedoms. They play a crucial role in the daily lives of people all over the world, allowing them to preserve their history, customs and traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking, meaning and expression, but also to construct their future. The extraordinary language diversity found in the world fundamentally contributes to intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity, as each language is deeply imbued with the culture of the people who speak them.
Despite their immense value, languages around the world continue to disappear at an alarming rate, and most of them are spoken by indigenous peoples. Reasons for the endangerment of languages vary across different communities and locations. Indigenous people – who speak the majority of the 7.000 existing languages – are experiencing challenges to be reconnected to migration, educational disadvantage, illiteracy, assimilation, enforced relocation and other discriminations.
Language policies throughout the world – despite considerable differences in the models and approaches adopted by the respective countries – have often tended to conceive language issues as purely cultural ones. These are usually dealt with by organizations and centers for cultural memory and harmonization, or language development institutes. There is a need to further appreciate the great role that languages play in building inclusive knowledge societies, in providing access to information and in stimulating innovation, having an impact on multiple domains, including education, social and cultural life, the economy, science, technology, and others. Languages therefore contribute to human development, and are essential to realizing sustainable development, good governance, peace and reconciliation.
Contribute to the promotion of indigenous languages through your research
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages, setting its priority to encourage urgent action to preserve, revitalize and promote indigenous languages. This Action plan starts from the recognition that indigenous languages embody rich cultural identities, and that each person should have the ability to use their home language as a prerequisite for respect of human rights. It consequently requires considerable re-working of the sustainable development agenda and national plans in order to encourage further international attention on indigenous issues. This objective could not be achieved without the production of high quality research and the formulation of concrete directions by prominent academics, researchers and practitioners specialized in different fields. These are key to inform new strategies that will address indigenous issues both within the Sustainable Development Agenda and national plans.
UNESCO is calling for the joint action of researchers and practitioners in order to put its message across and have an impact on the way in which indigenous languages are conceived, and their value appreciated by multiple stakeholders – governments, broader civil society, academia, the private sector and other actors. Making available these publications to the wider public through Open Access under the Creative Commons or any other open licensing system is intended to facilitate the promotion of indigenous languages globally.
Preserving, revitalizing and promoting indigenous languages at the national, regional and international level is a broad and long-term objective that involves different key areas of intervention:
1. Humanitarian affairs, peace-building and national development plans (e.g. during and post-conflict period, radicalization and other; assimilation, mapping and revitalization policies related to languages);
2. Indigenous education and life-long learning;
3. Indigenous knowledge in science and health (including interventions for epidemic or pandemic diseases; activism for climate change; water, bioethics and other);
4. Gender equality (e.g. reproductive health education policies, role of indigenous women in intergenerational transmission);
5. Social inclusion and urbanization, ethics and civic engagement (e.g. recognition of sign languages, youth engagement, open solutions and other issues);
6. Cultural heritage and diplomacy (concept of equality of languages, cultural identity imbued in languages);
7. Technology, digital activism, and artificial intelligence (e.g. language technology);
The goal for researchers and practitioners participating to IYIL2019 through their submissions is to cover at least one of these key areas, identifying gaps in existing research, gathering qualitative and statistical data, and putting together a set of conclusions and recommendations in order to raise awareness on the importance and impact of indigenous languages.
The research papers will contribute to the achievement of the overarching five key objectives of IYIL2019:
1. Informing about the importance of indigenous languages for social development;
2. Creating greater awareness about the critical status of indigenous languages around the world;
3. Stimulating intercultural debate around indigenous languages;
4. Imparting new knowledge on the importance of indigenous languages;
5. Shaping attitudes of relevant stakeholders about indigenous languages.
By focusing on these five key areas, by the end of 2019, the research produced is intended to contribute to the production of the World Report of Languages 2019, and to provide evidence-based information to practitioners and policy-makers around the world, with the long-term objective of mainstreaming language issues within a broader agenda.
Who is eligible?
All researchers working in different fields and experts in subject areas who are interested in indigenous issues and languages. UNESCO particularly encourages indigenous researchers to submit, and to work in collaboration with policymakers, civil society representatives, information and media professionals and other stakeholders to make the IYIL 2019 a success by enhancing indigenous voices.
UNESCO welcomes submissions based on desk-type research, literature reviews, experts and opinion leaders interviews (including diplomats, civil society and others involved in the SDG negotiation process), key messages outcomes, evidence-based case studies and existing solutions, statistical analyses (if data are available), etc. Online submissions (10 pages, 340 words per page including references) together with a short biography of each author and 3-5 keywords should be made via the online form or complete below and send us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Submissions will be evaluated by a peer review board appointed by UNESCO in consultation with Members of the Steering Committee of IYIL 2019, and will include leading linguists, indigenous researchers and experts in different fields.
Interested in submitting?
We recommend that you read more about the International Year of Indigenous Languages, UNESCO Publication policy, Author Guidelines and Grant of Rights agreement. https://en.iyil2019.org/
When? Important Dates
- Call for submissions: 20 December 2018 – 15 March 2019
- Peer Review Process: March – May 2019
- Publication Dates: September – October 2019
The authors of selected papers will be invited to present at relevant international events and to submit full versions of their papers for publication in Peer Review Journals. In addition, selected research contributions will be selected in June 2019 for publication on the World Report of Languages 2019.