High-Level Event to launch the International Year of Indigenous Languages

IYIL 2019

On 1 February 2019, the President of the 73rd session of the General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, convened a High-Level Event to mark the global launch of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages in New York, in line with 2018 General Assembly resolution 73/156.


Indigenous languages matter for social, economic and political development, peaceful coexistence and reconciliation in our societies. Yet many of them are in danger of disappearing.

Since its inception, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has continuously expressed concern for threatened indigenous languages and has been formulating and advocating policies to overcome the critical situation they face.

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs organized two expert group meetings (see E/C.19/2008/3 and E/C.19/2016/10) in response to recommendations of the Forum. The meeting reports describe the dire situation of indigenous languages today and call upon indigenous peoples, the United Nations system and States to take action to avoid further deterioration and provide support to preserve languages in danger of extinction.

The Forum endorsed the recommendation emanating from the expert group meeting in 2016 for the proclamation by the General Assembly of an international year to draw attention to the urgent need to protect indigenous languages.

On that basis, the General Assembly, in its 2016 resolution 71/178, proclaimed 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages and invited the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to serve as the United Nations lead agency for the Year. In the resolution, the General Assembly highlighted the need to draw attention to the critical loss of indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote indigenous languages and to take further urgent steps at the national and international levels.

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