Preparation of a convention for the protection of indigenous and endangered languages

24-01-2008

(176 EX/59; 176 EX/INF.16; 176 EX/66 Part II; 176 EX/67)

The Executive Board,

1. Having examined document 176 EX/59,

2. Considering that indigenous and vernacular languages as a whole are increasingly affected by the adverse consequences of globalization,

3. Expressing concern at the continuous displacement and extinction that often threaten many languages, year after year, throughout the world,

4. Stressing that indigenous and vernacular languages are vehicles of peoples’ cultural identity and ancestral knowledge, and constitute a vast irreplaceable heritage,

5. Further stressing that whenever there is a veiled threat of displacement or extinction of the linguistic and cultural heritage, indigenous communities and peoples which are the bearers of such heritage, at various levels, have responded actively and have voiced their protests in international fora with strong statements in support of their cultural and linguistic heritage with a view to its perpetuation,

6. Recalling that the Organization, in fulfilling its basic purpose of protecting creativity and cultural diversity throughout the world, has undertaken to promote linguistic diversity and multilingualism through international standard-setting instruments such as the 2001 UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and by implementing an intersectoral strategy for the programmatic integration of indigenous languages into the Organization’s five sectors,

7. Considering that the political will of States and the implementation of regional initiatives to safeguard and revitalize languages and promote multilingualism may not suffice at the world level to guarantee the preservation and intergenerational transmission of indigenous and vernacular languages,

8. Requests the Director-General to conduct a preliminary study of the technical and legal aspects of a possible international standard-setting instrument for the protection of indigenous and endangered languages, including a study of the outcomes of the programmes implemented by UNESCO relating to this issue, and to submit such a preliminary study to the Executive Board for examination at its 179th session;

9. Invites the Director-General to convene a meeting of experts, including representatives of indigenous peoples, to assist him in the preparation of such a preliminary study, and to seek extrabudgetary funding for it.