The International Decade of Indigenous Languages


The International Decade of Indigenous Languages

In December 2019, the UN General Assembly Resolution proclaimed the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (IDIL 2022–2032) to run from 2022 to 2032.

The main objectives of IDIL 2022–2032 are to: 

  • Draw attention to the critical loss of indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalise and promote them;
  • Take urgent steps to promote indigenous languages at national and international levels.

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. 2019 was proclaimed International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL 2019) which led as a key outcome to the IDIL 2022–2032.

Most of the world’s languages are used by a small number of speakers and many are classified as endangered. Some are official/state languages, others are minority languages, and some are indigenous languages. With increased language contact, languages with a small number of speakers, minority languages and indigenous languages, may be marginalised within nations, which leads ultimately to extinction. The Vigdís Centre has declared its willingness to support the decade with projects related to minority languages and small language environments, based on its research and experience within this area.

Indigenous peoples are often isolated both politically and socially in the countries they live in, by the geographical location of their communities, their separate histories, cultures, languages and traditions. 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, peace-building and reconciliation.

They also foster and promote unique 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.

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, in this way contributing to the welfare of societies across the globe.

The IDIL2022–2032 is also expected to strengthen and reinforce the many standard-setting tools adopted by the international community which include specific provisions to promote and protect languages.

United Nations IDIL2022–2032 website

The Los Pinos Declaration [Chapoltepek] for Making a Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages

Rights of indigenous peoples resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 18 December 2019 A/RES/74/135