Making a Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages
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Making a Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages


The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the period between 2022 and 2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (IDIL 2022-2032), to draw global attention to the critical situation of many indigenous languages.

The proclamation of an International Decade was a key outcome of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, for which the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) led global efforts. The Organization continues to serve as lead UN Agency for the implementation of the International Decade, in cooperation with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and other relevant UN Agencies.

The International Decade aims at ensuring indigenous peoples’ right to preserve, revitalize and promote their languages, and mainstreaming linguistic diversity and multilingualism aspects into the sustainable development efforts. It offers a unique opportunity to collaborate in the areas of policy development and stimulate a global dialogue in a true spirit of multi-stakeholder engagement, and to take necessary for the usage, preservation, revitalization, and promotion of indigenous languages around the world.

On the closing of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, 27-28 February 2020, Mexico City, and as the outcome document of the High-level event “Making a Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages”, UNESCO adopted the “Los Pinos Declaration [Chapoltepek]”.

The Declaration’s plan of action rests on five key principles, based on human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the rights and values of indigenous peoples as indicated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), as inspiration for the future Global Action Plan for the International Decade of Indigenous Languages.

1. Centrality of indigenous peoples – “Nothing for us without us”, according to the principle of self-determination; the right to use, develop, revitalize, and transmit languages orally and in written forms to future generations which reflect the insights and values of indigenous peoples, their identities and traditional knowledge systems and cultures; the equal treatment of indigenous languages with respect to other languages; and the effective and inclusive participation of indigenous peoples in consultation, planning and implementation of processes based on their free, prior and informed consent right from the start of any development initiative as well as the recognition of the specific barriers and challenges faced by indigenous women, whose identity, cultural traditions and forms of social organization enhance and strengthen the communities in which they live.

2. Compliance with international norms and standards, in particular taking into consideration the provisions of the UNDRIP which constitute the necessary standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples, as well as for the promotion of linguistic diversity and multilingualism based on mutual respect, coexistence and shared benefit.

3. Joint action, “Delivering as One”, for efficient and coherent delivery across the UN system: UN System-wide action plan (SWAP), in partnership with the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), as well as the integration of UN normative and operational mandates on the rights of indigenous peoples working in collaboration with UN Country Teams (UNCT); as well as building synergy among different international and regional frameworks on indigenous peoples’ rights and sustainable development, reconciliation and peacebuilding, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the African Union Agenda 2063 and other relevant instruments.

4. Multi-stakeholder partnerships at all levels in order to foster synergies, leadership, adequate responses with the enhanced participation of indigenous peoples and other stakeholders, and the establishment of collaborative structures at local, national, regional and international levels.

5. A holistic approach in programming based upon a full spectrum of human rights and fundamental freedoms, embracing indigenous identity, cultural and spiritual diversity, gender equality, and including indigenous persons with disabilities, and multicultural societies, as well as building inclusive and equitable education and learning environments, and developing a paradigm that encourages capacity-building and empowerment of indigenous peoples to ensure environmental sustainability, biodiversity and cultural diversity, as well as allowing them to benefit from technological and scientific developments.

Source: UNESCO.

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