International Year of Indigenous Languages (2019)

With the goal of establishing a connection between language, development, peace, and reconciliation, the United Nations observed 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages in order to increase public awareness of the effects of the global endangerment of Indigenous languages.

Approximately 600 languages have vanished in the last century, and this number is continuing to rise at a rate of one language every two weeks, according to UNESCO. If current trends are allowed to continue, up to 90% of the world's languages are likely to vanish before the end of this century.


An international year is a significant vehicle for international collaboration that is committed to bringing attention to a certain issue or theme of global importance or concern and mobilizing various participants for global cooperation.

Based on a suggestion made by the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2016 designating 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

The Forum calculated that 40% of the 6,700 languages spoken worldwide at the time were in danger of extinction. The cultures and knowledge systems to which these languages belong are at risk since the majority of them are indigenous languages.

Additionally, because of the physical location of their communities and the distinct histories, cultures, languages, and traditions that define them, indigenous peoples are frequently marginalized politically and socially in the nations where they reside.

However, they should be acknowledged as a strategic national resource for development, peacemaking, and reconciliation as their languages reflect sophisticated knowledge and communication systems and are leaders in environmental protection.

Additionally, they support and advertise the distinctive local cultures, traditions, and values that have persisted for thousands of years. Indigenous languages enrich the complex tapestry of cultural variety in the world. The world would be less prosperous without them.

IYIL2019 will enhance the lives of persons who speak indigenous languages by promoting and protecting them. It will assist in accomplishing the goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The event is also anticipated to improve and support the numerous standard-setting instruments that the international community has approved, including clauses that specifically promote and safeguard languages.


The International Year of Indigenous Languages sought to draw attention to the dangers facing indigenous languages, particularly those important for peacebuilding, development, reconciliation, and good governance. In order to reinforce the continuity of indigenous languages and cultures, it aspired to enhance quality of life, expand international cooperation and visibility, and foster intercultural conversation.

The 2010 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals were both covered by the year's planned activities, which were organized into three subject areas. Indigenous peoples, UN system organizations, nations, academia, public and commercial groups, and the media might participate in the year. The themes included:

The five key intervention areas during the year were:

  1. Increasing awareness, reunification, and global collaboration
  2. Creation of conditions that are favorable for knowledge exchange and the promotion of best practices regarding indigenous languages
  3. The inclusion of native languages in standard-setting
  4. Empowerment via increasing capacity
  5. Development and growth brought about by the development of fresh knowledge



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