UNPFII20: Agenda 5 – Joint Statement to the 20th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Agenda Item 5 (f). Thematic dialogues: International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2031   
Statement on behalf of the Asia Indigenous People’s Caucus
27th April, 2021

Presented by: Anabel Benjamin Bara

We, the Indigenous Peoples’ organizations in Asia, welcome the efforts of UNESCO for the declaration of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages from 2022 to 2031.

Indigenous Languages give meaning to the well-being of Indigenous Peoples. According to the report of the World Language Mapping System (WLMS), the majority of the 7100 known languages of the world are spoken by Indigenous Peoples.  Some of the Indigenous languages in Asia are on the verge of extinction or critically endangered due to various threats.

To address the challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples, some of the Member States in Asia have undertaken remarkable efforts such as officially recognizing Indigenous languages and scripts, introducing Indigenous languages in the education system and using them in various creative media. We call on the UNESCO country offices to facilitate the Member States at national and local levels to intervene in more actions to meet the objectives of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages.

However, in most Asian countries Indigenous Peoples are still the victim of eviction by State-led development projects, which affect dislocation from ancestral land, out-migration damage of the socio-economic system, and loss of rich Indigenous cultural diversity as a whole.  

We urge the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to call on States to:

  1. Undertake language documentation program at the national level to identify the existence of Indigenous languages including the number of speakers and recognize them as official languages;
  2. Introduce Indigenous languages in the education system and other public usages. To accomplish this, make necessary policy reforms to include the issues of Indigenous languages in the public mechanisms on academic research, teachers training program, curriculum reform, and pedagogical development.
  3. Establish specialized public institutions at the national and local levels under the leadership of Indigenous scholars to deal with the issues of Indigenous languages including research, language development, curriculum reform, teachers training, and lifelong learning process.  
  4. Promote and provide support to community initiatives in preserving and practicing Indigenous languages and expand those initiatives through providing resources and technical support.
  5. Take urgent steps to stop the forced and involuntary dislocation of Indigenous Peoples from their ancestral territories. 
  6. Engage traditional leaders, Indigenous communities, and Indigenous scholars in the decision-making and implementation process regarding Indigenous languages.

Thank you,

Contact:   
Anabel Benjamin Bara
UNESCO Member, Global Task Force for IDIL, Asia and Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
Email: [email protected]

Click here to download full statement

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