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UNESCO presents in New York 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages

19 April 2018

The seventeenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is taking place in New York from 16 to 27 April 2018. In this context, UNESCO is presenting the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages (IY2019) as the United Nations leading organization for its implementation.

On 21 October 2016 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages, beginning on 1 January 2019. The International Year is an important international cooperation mechanism and a year-long celebration, involving a range of different stakeholders, dedicated to preserve, revitalize, and promote indigenous languages; as languages matter for social, economic and political development, peace building and reconciliation. 

Indigenous languages are essential to sustainable development; they constitute the vast majority of the world’s linguistic diversity, and are an expression of cultural identity, diversity and a unique understanding of the world. The disappearance of indigenous languages has a negative impact on areas directly affecting lives of indigenous peoples such as, politics, health, justice, education and access to ICTs among other things. Therefore, UNPFII is the appropriate setting to present the Action Plan for the organization of IY2019 to the indigenous peoples representatives and organizations.

One of the key principles of the Action Plan itself is the centrality of indigenous peoples “nothing for us without us”. During 2019, multiple actions and events are expected to be organized by indigenous peoples and organizations around the world. Hence, on Monday 16 April the Action Plan was discussed by all partners involved so that future action will all be on the same track.

In addition, UNESCO is collaborating together with FILAC and Ecuador in the side events organized in the context of the Forum to present IY2019 and the wide range of partnering opportunities to indigenous organizations from all regions, Member States and indigenous media.

In the upcoming days, the Steering Committee, will meet to take further steps towards the implementation of the Action Plan. The Committee comprises one Member State representing each region, leaders and representatives of indigenous peoples, all interested Member States, UNESCO and UNDESA.

For more information on the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, watch the following video: