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UNESCO launched consultations with experts of the UN Human Rights Council Expert Mechanism on the 2019 Year of Indigenous Languages

17 July 2017

UNESCO, serving as the lead UN agency for the organization of the International Year of Indigenous Languages beginning on 1st January 2019, organized open consultations on 11 July 2017 within the framework of UN Human Rights Council Expert Mechanism (EMRIP) meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting was attended by the members of the Permanent Forum on the Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), expert members of the EMRIP, representatives of the Member States as well as representatives of indigenous communities, civil society and other interested stakeholders.

The event was organized in response to the United Nations General Assembly’s Resolution (Ref.: A/RES/71/178) on “Rights of Indigenous peoples” adopted in December 2016 which proclaimed 2019 as the Year of Indigenous Languages and follow up to the consultations organized by UNESCO with UNPFII in May 2017.

Ms Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in her introductory remarks said that the Global Plan of Action for the organization of the 2019 Year require a long-term orientation in order to strengthen and support indigenous languages and speakers. It is therefore important that all stakeholders coordinate their involvement and share responsibilities.  

Mr Alexey Tsykarev, Member of the EMRIP proposed to identify practices that proved to be successful in revitalization of indigenous languages. Among many suggestions, he also called upon to launch a global advocacy campaign, as a part of Global Plan of Action, in order to draw attention of all stakeholders, particularly governments, on the critical situation of many indigenous languages around the world.

Many experts and representatives of various organizations suggested establishing measurable and realistic goals for the 2019 Year and urge to go beyond traditional celebration of the Year limited to the cultural events and few gatherings. Some others proposed establishing an open repository for collection of good practices shared by the indigenous communities, academia, public and private bodies and linking it with other existing repositories.  The idea of mapping “Points of interest” was raised by some participants proposing to involve indigenous communities through social media. Many speakers raised importance of mother tongue-based education and encouraged to work closer with local municipalities.   

Ms Irmgarda Kasinskaite-Buddeberg from UNESCO said that the Year 2019 is an excellent opportunity for all stakeholders to raise awareness on the role of indigenous languages for sustainable development. The Year 2019 will serve as an international platform, which would provide space for all partners to better coordinate their actions, build new synergies and support indigenous languages speakers. The results of open consultations with UNPFII and EMRIP will be taken into account drafting the Global Plan of Action and Global Communication Strategy of the 2019 Year.