are in the MOST Phase I website (1994-2003).
The MOST Phase II website is available at: www.unesco.org/shs/most.
| This declaration is the result of efforts of a number of organizations
(the International PEN Club's Translations and Linguistic Rights Committee
and the Escarré International Centre for Ethnic Minorities and Nations)
which entrusted its preparation to a committee of fifty experts. It was
finally approved on 6 June 1996 in Barcelona, Spain, by two hundred and
twenty persons from almost ninety different states, representing some one
hundred NGOs and International PEN Club Centres. The text of the Universal
Declaration can also be found in Spanish, French and Catalan versions at
the Internet site of
the Centre Internacional Escarré per a les Minories Ètniques i Nacionals.
Having regard to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which, in its preamble, expresses its "faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women"; and which, in its second article, establishes that "everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms" regardless of "race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status";
Having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966 (Article 27), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the same date which, in their preambles, state that human beings cannot be free unless conditions are created which enable them to enjoy both their civil and political rights and their economic, social and cultural rights;
Having regard to Resolution 47/135 of 18 December 1992 of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organizations which adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National, Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities;
Having regard to the declarations and conventions of the Council of Europe, such as the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, of 4 November 1950 (Article 14); the Convention of the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe, of 29 June 1992, approving the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages; the Declaration on National Minorities by the Summit Meeting of the Council of Europe on 9 October 1993; and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of November 1994;
Having regard to the Santiago de Compostela Declaration of the International PEN Club and the Declaration of 15 December 1993 of the Translations and Linguistic Rights Committee of the International PEN Club concerning the proposal to hold a World Conference on Linguistic Rights;
Considering that, in the Recife, Brazil, Declaration of 9 October 1987, the 12th Seminar of the International Association for the Development of Intercultural Communication recommended the United Nations Organization to take the necessary steps to approve and implement a Universal Declaration on Linguistic Rights;
Having regard to Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization of 26 June 1989 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries;
Having regard to the Universal Declaration of the Collective Rights of Peoples, Barcelona, May 1990, which declared that all peoples have the right to express and develop their culture, language and rules of organization and, to this end, to adopt political, educational, communications and governmental structures of their own, within different political frameworks;
Having regard to the Final Declaration of the General Assembly of the International Federation of Modern Language Teachers in Pécs (Hungary) on 16 August 1991, which recommended that linguistic rights be considered among the fundamental rights of the individual;
Having regard to the report of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, of 20 April 1994, concerning the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which assesses individual rights in the light of collective rights;
Having Regard to the draft Declaration of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, approved at session 1278 on 18 September 1995;
Considering that the majority of the world's endangered languages belong to non-sovereign peoples and that the main factors which prevent the development of these languages and accelerate the process of language substitution include the lack of self-government and the policy of states which impose their political and administrative structures and their language;
Considering that invasion, colonization, occupation and other instances of political, economic or social subordination often involve the direct imposition of a foreign language or, at the very least, distort perceptions of the value of languages and give rise to hierarchical linguistic attitudes which undermine the language loyalty of speakers; and considering that the languages of some peoples which have attained sovereignty are immersed in a process of language substitution as a result of a policy which favours the language of a former colonial or imperial power;
Considering that universalism must be based on a conception of linguistic and cultural diversity which prevails over trends towards homogenization and exclusionary isolation;
Considering that, in order to ensure peaceful coexistence between language communities, a series of overall principles must be found so as to guarantee the promotion and respect of all languages and their social use in public and in private;
Considering that various factors of an extralinguistic nature (historical, political, territorial, demographic, economic, sociocultural and sociolinguistic factors and those related to collective attitudes) give rise to problems which lead to the extinction, marginalization and degeneration of numerous languages, and that consequently linguistic rights must be examined in an overall perspective, so as to apply appropriate solutions in each case;
In the belief that a Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights is required in order to correct linguistic imbalances with a view to ensuring the respect and full development of all languages and establishing the principles for a just and equitable linguistic peace throughout the world as a key factor in the maintenance of harmonious social relations;
HEREBY DECLARE THAT
More specifically, at the present time, these factors are defined by:
Language communities are currently under pressure from dangers arising from a lack of self-government, a limited population or one that is partially or wholly dispersed, a fragile economy, an uncodified language, or a cultural model opposed to the dominant one, which make it impossible for many languages to survive and develop unless the following basic goals are taken into account:
In a political perspective, the goal of conceiving a way of organizing linguistic diversity so as to permit the effective participation of language communities in this new growth model.
In a cultural perspective, the goal of rendering the worldwide communications space compatible with the equitable participation of all peoples, language communities and individuals in the development process.
In an economic perspective, the goal of fostering sustainable development based on the participation of all and on respect for the ecological balance of societies and for equitable relationships between all languages and cultures.
For all these reasons, this Declaration takes language communities and not states as its point of departure and is to be viewed in the context of the reinforcement of international institutions capable of guaranteeing sustainable and equitable development for the whole of humanity. For these reasons also it aims to encourage the creation of a political framework for linguistic diversity based upon respect, harmonious coexistence and mutual benefit.
2. This Declaration takes as its point of departure the principle that linguistic rights are individual and collective at one and the same time. In defining the full range of linguistic rights, it adopts as its referent the case of a historical language community within its own territorial space, this space being understood, not only as the geographical area where the community lives, but also as the social and functional space vital to the full development of the language. Only on this basis is it possible to define the rights of the language groups mentioned in point 5 of the present article, and those of individuals living outside the territory of their community, in terms of a gradation or continuum.
3. For the purpose of this Declaration, groups are also deemed to be in their own territory and to belong to a language community in the following circumstances:
4. This Declaration also considers nomad peoples within their historical areas of migration and peoples historically established in geographically dispersed locations as language communities in their own territory.
5. This Declaration considers as a language group any group of persons sharing the same language which is established in the territorial space of another language community but which does not possess historical antecedents equivalent to those of that community. Examples of such groups are immigrants, refugees, deported persons and members of diasporas.
2. In order to establish the appropriate articulation between the respective rights of such language communities and groups and the persons belonging to them, the quest for a satisfactory sociolinguistic balance must take into account various factors, in addition to their respective historical antecedents in the territory and their democratically expressed will. Among such factors, which may call for compensatory treatment aimed at restoring a balance, are the following: the coercive nature of the migrations which have led to the coexistence of the different communities and groups, and their degree of political, socioeconomic and cultural vulnerability.
2. This Declaration considers that the collective rights of language groups, may include the following, in addition to the rights attributed to the members of language groups in the foregoing paragraph, and in accordance with the conditions laid down in article 2.2:
3. The aforementioned rights of persons and language groups must in no way hinder the interrelation of such persons or groups with the host language community or their integration into that community. Nor must they restrict the rights of the host community or its members to the full public use of the community's own language throughout its territorial space.
1. This Declaration considers that persons who move to and settle in the territory of another language community have the right and the duty to maintain an attitude of integration towards this community. This term is understood to mean an additional socialization of such persons in such a way that they may preserve their original cultural characteristics while sharing with the society in which they have settled sufficient references, values and forms of behaviour to enable them to function socially without greater difficulties than those experienced by members of the host community.
2. This Declaration considers, on the other hand, that assimilation, a term which is understood to mean acculturation in the host society, in such a way that the original cultural characteristics are replaced by the references, values and forms of behaviour of the host society, must on no account be forced or induced and can only be the result of an entirely free decision.
This Declaration is based on the principle that the rights of all language communities are equal and independent of their legal status as official, regional or minority languages. Terms such as regional or minority languages are not used in this Declaration because, though in certain cases the recognition of regional or minority languages can facilitate the exercise of certain rights, these and other modifiers are frequently used to restrict the rights of language communities.
This Declaration considers that a language cannot be considered specific to a territory merely on the grounds that it is the official language of the state or has been traditionally used within the territory for administrative purposes or for certain cultural activities.
2. All languages are collectively constituted and are made available within a community for individual use as tools of cohesion, identification, communication and creative expression.
1. All language communities have the right to organize and manage their own resources so as to ensure the use of their language in all functions within society.
2. All language communities are entitled to have at their disposal whatever means are necessary to ensure the transmission and continuity of their language.
All language communities have the right to codify, standardize, preserve, develop and promote their linguistic system, without induced or forced interference.
1. All language communities have equal rights.
2. This Declaration considers discrimination against language communities to be inadmissible, whether it be based on their degree of political sovereignty, their situation defined in social, economic or other terms, the extent to which their languages have been codified, updated or modernized, or on any other criterion.
3. All necessary steps must be taken in order to implement this principle of equality and to render it real and effective.
All language communities are entitled to have at their disposal whatever means of translation into and from other languages are needed to guarantee the exercise of the rights contained in this Declaration.
1. Everyone has the right to carry out all activities in the public sphere in his/her language, provided it is the language specific to the territory where s/he resides.
2. Everyone has the right to use his/her language in the personal and family sphere.
1. Everyone has the right to know the language specific to the territory in which s/he lives.
2. Everyone has the right to be polyglot and to know and use the language most conducive to his/her personal development or social mobility, without prejudice to the guarantees established in this Declaration for the public use of the language specific to the territory.
The provisions of this Declaration cannot be interpreted or used to the detriment of any norm or practice deriving from the internal or international status of a language which is more favourable to its use within the territory to which it is specific.
Overall linguistic régime
Public administration and official bodies
2. All language communities have the right for legal and administrative acts, public and private documents and records in public registers which are drawn up in the language of the territory to be valid and effective and no one can allege ignorance of this language.
All language communities have the right to communicate in their own language with the central, territorial, local and supraterritorial services of the public authorities and of those administrative divisions which include the territory to which the language is specific.
2. Forms and standard administrative documents, whether in printed, machine-readable or any other form, must be made available and placed at the disposal of the public in all territorial languages by the public authorities through the services which cover the territories to which each language is specific.
2. Public authorities who have more than one territorially historic language within their jurisdiction must publish all laws and other legal provisions of a general nature in each of these languages, whether or not their speakers understand other languages.
2. This right also applies to the languages of the communities established in geographically dispersed locations referred to in Article 1, Paragraph 4.
2. Notwithstanding the above, everyone has the right to be tried in a language which s/he understands and can speak and to obtain the services of an interpreter free of charge.
2. Education must help to maintain and develop the language spoken by the language community of the territory where it is provided.
3. Education must always be at the service of linguistic and cultural diversity and of harmonious relations between different language communities throughout the world.
4. Within the context of the foregoing principles, everyone has the right to learn any language.
2. This right does not exclude the right to acquire oral and written knowledge of any language which may be of use to him/her as an instrument of communication with other language communities.
Proper namesArticle 31
2. All language communities have the right to establish, preserve and revise autochthonous place names. Such place names cannot be arbitrarily abolished, distorted or adapted, nor can they be replaced if changes in the political situation, or changes of any other type, occur.
Communications media and new technologies
the desired degree of presence of their language and the desired degree of cultural self-expression in the communications media
in their territory: properly trained personnel, finance, buildings and equipment, traditional and innovative technology.
2. All language communities must be able to exercise this right to the full without any community's space being subjected to hegemonic occupation by a foreign culture.
The socioeconomic sphere
2. All language communities are entitled to have at their disposal, in their own language, all the means necessary for the performance of their professional activities, such as documents and works of reference, instructions, forms and computer equipment, tools and products.
3. The use of other languages in this sphere can only be required in so far as it is justified by the nature of the professional activity involved. In no case can a more recently arrived language relegate or supersede the use of the language specific to the territory.
2. No clause in such private acts can exclude or restrict the use of a language in the territory to which it is specific.
3. All language communities are entitled to have the documents required for the performance of the above-mentioned operations at their disposal in their own language. Such documents include forms, cheques, contracts, invoices, receipts, delivery notes, order forms, and others.
2. All language communities have the right to receive full oral and written information in their own language on the products and services proposed by commercial establishments in the territory, such as instructions for use, labels, lists of ingredients, advertising, guarantees and others.
3. All public signs and announcements affecting the safety of the public must be written at least in the language specific to the territory, in conditions which are not inferior to those of any other language.
2. Everyone has the right, as a client, customer, consumer or user, to receive oral and written information in the language specific to the territory from establishments open to the public.
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