"Languages are indeed essential to the identity of groups and individuals and to their peaceful coexistence. They constitute a strategic factor of progress towards sustainable development and a harmonious relationship between the global and the local context.... UNESCO therefore invites governments, United Nations organizations, civil society organizations, educational institutions, professional associations and all other stakeholders to increase their own activities to foster respect for, and the promotion and protection of all languages, particularly endangered languages, in all individual and collective contexts."
Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO
On 16 May 2007 General Assembly proclaimed 2008 International Year of Languages, pursuant to the resolution adopted by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization at its thirty-third session on 20 October 2005, and invited the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to serve as the lead agency for the Year.
In this context General Assembly invited Member States, the United Nations system and all other relevant stakeholders to develop, support and intensify activities aimed at fostering respect for and the promotion and protection of all languages, in particular endangered languages, linguistic diversity and multilingualism.
To celebrate the International Year of Languages, UNESCO invites governments, United Nations organizations, civil society organizations, educational institutions, professional associations and all other stakeholders to increase their own activities to promote and protect all languages, particularly endangered languages, in all individual and collective contexts.
How to participate | Possible action fields:
Projects on languages and multilingualism take many forms – building capacity, research and analysis, raising awareness, supporting projects, developing networks, disseminating information - and have diverse outreach (local, regional or global). These activities are often interdisciplinary, but they can also address particular aspects of language issues, including:
- Educational initiatives promoting inclusion and quality learning by supporting bi-and multi-lingual education, especially the use of the mother-tongue, at all levels and in formal and non-formal settings; including special attention to teacher training, literacy provision and health education.
- Projects in the field of science aimed at enhancing communication and collaboration between scientific researchers and institutions across linguistic divides; translating and disseminating scientific materials to communities in order to overcome language barriers; recognizing the central role of vernacular languages in indigenous ways of knowing.
- Social and human sciences projects focusing on languages and human and cultural rights, migrations and urbanization and other social issues (e.g. exclusion and poverty).
- Culture-centered projects on cultural diversity, dialogue and exchange, protecting cultural heritage, safeguarding endangered languages (i.e. through translations and publications for instance).
- Communication and information initiatives that concentrate on building knowledge societies in which everyone can participate and benefit; promoting universal access to information and wider access to ICTs by ensuring the use of a greater number of languages; promoting cultural and linguistic diversity in the media and international information networks.