UNESCO launches the Global Task Force for Making a Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages

The Global Task Force for Making a Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages was officially launched today by UNESCO with the participation of representatives of Member States, indigenous peoples’ organizations, three-party United Nations mechanisms, the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The Global Task Force sets up a solid pathway for ensuring indigenous peoples’ right to preserve, revitalize and promote their languages, and mainstreaming linguistic diversity and multilingualism aspects into the sustainable development efforts. Acting as an international coordination mechanism, the Global Task Force will help to prepare, plan, implement and monitor activities in the framework of the upcoming International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032).

The establishment of the Global Task Force is a key milestone in the preparations of the International Decade, and your active participation will be fundamental to successfully mobilize and coordinate international cooperation for the planning of the International Decade and of the Global Action Plan that will guide its implementation. This work will include facilitating stakeholder dialogue and identifying concrete, long-term and sustainable measures to protect and promote indigenous languages in all levels of society.
Xing Qu, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO

In proclaiming this Decade, the international community is recognizing that indigenous peoples represent a distinct group whose human right to language should be promoted and protected. This proclamation is also a call for action – the preservation of indigenous languages not only requires greater awareness but also concrete commitments.
Nada Al-Nashif, Deputy High Commissioner of Human Rights

The International Decade of Indigenous Languages now offers a great opportunity to promote and implement indigenous peoples’ linguistic rights through activities that focus on policy development and implementation.
Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development

During the International Decade, global attention on the critical situation of many indigenous languages will be raised at international, regional and national levels, and resources will be mobilized for the preservation, revitalization and promotion of indigenous languages. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the period 2022-2032 as the International Decade of the Indigenous Languages (IDIL2022-2032) and invited UNESCO to serve as the lead UN Agency for its organization, in cooperation with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and other relevant agencies including The Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The Global Task Force provides an international framework for inclusion, openness, participation and multistakeholder engagement in the International Decade.

The Global Task Force is composed of representatives of:

  • National governments from each electoral group of UNESCO;
  • Indigenous peoples’ organizations from seven socio-cultural organizations;
  • Representatives of the three-party UN mechanisms such as the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues, Expert Mechanism for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and
  • UN system entities including UNESCO, UNDESA, and OHCHR.

Members are appointed for a three-year period rotating between the Steering Committee (one year) and Advisory Group (two years). The work of the Steering Committee and Advisory Group will be supported by the Ad-hoc group(s) tasked to consult other stakeholders on the technical, regional or specific thematic aspects and issues. The Multi-stakeholder consultative meeting will take place once in three years providing a forum for strategic dialogue among a wide range of stakeholders.

The international governance mechanism will build its work on the lessons learnt from the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL2019), the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (1995 – 2004), the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and its Outcome document, and the World Conference Against Racism and its Action Plan, as well as other international normative frameworks. The principles of rotation, orientation towards action, participation and international cooperation will be applied by stakeholders over the 10-year period. In the long-term, the Global Task Force for Making a Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages will lay a solid foundation for the development of consensus as well as a drive consolidated actions to advance the rights of indigenous peoples and language users around the world.

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