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MOST Clearing House Linguistic Rights




UNESCO MOST Policy on Linguistic Rights


International Legal Instruments


Major Non-Governmental Documents


National Constitutions





    "Cultural differences may give rise to argument and even conflict, but within a framework of democracy, tolerance and solidarity, it is always possible to find peaceful solutions"  
Federico Mayor 
Director-general of UNESCO (1987-1999)
    The Scout Report for Social Sciences Selection


  The analysis of multicultural societies is one of the major research topics of UNESCO's MOST Programme. Through interdisciplinary, comparative, and culturally sensitive research, the MOST Programme aims at furnishing information useful for the peaceful and democratic management of societies characterized by cultural and ethnic pluralism. In particular, this research should help design policies that contribute to the goals of achieving equality of citizenship rights between culturally diverse groups and the avoidance and solution of ethnic conflict. 

Linguistic diversity: A particular challenge for multicultural policies 

The MOST project "Democratic governance in multi-cultural and multi-ethnic societies", a democracy training project launched at the request of the Kyrgyz government and organized in co-operation with the Swiss government and the European Commission for Democracy through Law, has put special emphasis on developing strategies to manage ethnic conflict between linguistic groups. Because it affects many areas of public policy, including education, media, new information technologies, and even the labor market, linguistic diversity constitutes a particular challenge to the development of multicultural policies. 

Promoting democracy through law 

Promoting democratic governance and designing multicultural policies requires first and foremost a legal framework recognizing the equal rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic groups. This framework is provided by standard-setting instruments of international human rights law which address the rights of persons belonging to minorities. 

However, it is primarily on the national level where linguistic human rights are implemented, by jurisdiction, legislation, and policy-making. The MOST Programme intends to assist decision-makers in designing constitutional frameworks and multicultural policies to promote peaceful coexistence between ethno-linguistic groups, to find mechanisms of power-sharing and intercultural communication and, thereby, to build democratic institutions and a democratic political culture. 

Disseminating information on linguistic rights 

The MOST Clearing House on Linguistic Rights is designed to provide tools for legislators, decision-makers, researchers and other representatives of both governmental and non-governmental organizations to monitor the transition to democracy in multicultural and multi-ethnic societies. It provides an overview of the most important international legal instruments pertaining to linguistic rights as well as a collection of constitutional provisions. This information can be used for further legal analysis as well as for the development of multicultural policies aimed at resolving and avoiding language conflict.   

The Scout Report for Social Sciences
October 8,1998
Volume 2, Number 2

MOST Clearing House on Linguistic Rights - UNESCO

The MOST (Management of Social Transformations) Clearing House (discussed in the Scout Report for Social Sciences, 18 November 1997) has added a section on linguistic rights. The Clearing House on Linguistic Rights supplies legislators, decision-makers, researchers, and other representatives of both governmental and non-governmental organizations with information related to the development of policies that will lead to peaceful and democratic  solutions to problems that arise within societies characterized by cultural and ethnic pluralism. This site provides several full-text international legal documents concerning the rights of linguistic minorities, excerpts from 163 national constitutions which contain provisions on language, and a modest bibliography on linguistic rights in
international human rights law. [AO]
Copyright Internet Scout Project, 1994-1999.

This Website was prepared in the framework of the MOST training project on Democratic Governance in a Multicultural and Multi-ethnic Society, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation - DCC, through Funds-in-Trust Agreement 501KIZ-55.

The website was last updated in October 2002.
Contact information: p.deguchteneire@unesco.org.

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