An International Decade is an important cooperation mechanism dedicated to raising awareness on a particular topic or theme of global interest or concern, and mobilizing different players for coordinated action around the world.
In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming the period of 2022-2032 the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, based on a recommendation by the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The proclamation of the IDIL2022-2032 is a key outcome of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL2019).
In 2016, the Permanent Forum stated that 40 per cent of the estimated 6,700 languages spoken around the world were in danger of disappearing. The fact that most of these are indigenous languages puts the cultures and knowledge systems to which they belong at risk.
In addition to this, Indigenous peoples are often isolated both politically and socially in the countries they live in, by virtue of geographical remoteness or historical, cultural, and linguistic differences. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the marginalization of Indigenous peoples around the world, having a negative impact on the world’s linguistic diversity.
And yet, indigenous peoples are not only leaders in protecting the environment, but their languages represent complex systems of knowledge and communication, and should be recognized as a strategic national resource for sustainable development, peacebuilding and reconciliation.
The use of indigenous languages also works to promote local cultures, customs and values which have endured for thousands of years. Indigenous languages add to the rich tapestry of global cultural diversity. Without them, the world would be a poorer place.
Building on the good practices and lessons learned through the IYIL2019, the IDIL2022-2032 will help promote and protect indigenous languages and improve the lives of those who speak them. It will contribute to achieving the objectives set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.
The celebration is also expected to strengthen and reinforce the many standard-setting tools adopted by the international community, including specific provisions to promote and protect languages.