With a view to empowering Indigenous language speakers and users, UNESCO and the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN), as African Union’s specialized institution, mandated to develop and promote African languages in partnership with the languages inherited from Africa’s colonial past in the perspective of linguistic diversity and convivial multilingualism, the representatives of Member States and Indigenous members of the Steering Committee for the organization of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, and Member States of the African Union, regional and international institutional partners, as well as supported by the UNESCO Intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP), are organizing the IYIL2019 African Regional Meeting on Indigenous languages on 30 and 31 July 2019 at the Headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The African Regional Meeting (IYIL2019 Regional Meeting) will contribute to the implementation of the Action Plan for Organizing the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages (Annex V), in particular to the established tentative road map towards achieving strategic objectives and expected impacts through the elaboration of a Global Strategic Outcomes Document.
The objectives of the African Regional Meeting (IYI2019 Regional Meeting) in Addis Ababa are to:
• Bring together a diverse range of stakeholders, including representatives of ACALAN’s working structures in the national governments of member states of the African Union, Indigenous organizations, scholars and experts in the field of Indigenous languages, and others for a constructive dialogue on Indigenous languages and related issues in the African regions;
• Promote the human rights and fundamental freedoms, with special focus on support, access and promotion of Indigenous languages and better integration into the policy and strategic frameworks, research agendas and development of concrete tools and services;
• Identify existing challenges, practical solutions and good practices among different stakeholders working in language transmission, documentation, safeguarding, policy development, education, research, and promotion and private sector; and,
• Raise awareness on the importance of Indigenous languages, linguistic diversity and multilingualism for sustainable development and provide guidance to the stakeholders in the implementation of international, regional and national commitments related to language development.
The expected Outcomes of the African IYI2019 Regional Meeting in Addis Ababa are to:
• Produce a Regional Outcomes Document elaborated jointly by all stakeholders, including concrete recommendations and identified actions on support for, access to and promotion of Indigenous languages and empowerment of Indigenous languages speakers and learners in Africa;
• Provide a Template for other Regional Meetings in the context of IYIL 2019.; and,
• Provide an opportunity to forge new partnerships and networks among various stakeholders to further the exchange of best practices, information sharing and collaboration.
The IYIL2019 Regional Meeting will include discussions on the following five key areas identified and presented in the Action Plan (Ref.: E/C.19/2018/8). These include:
• Increasing understanding, reconciliation and international cooperation, including a role of non-governmental organizations;
• Creation of favorable conditions for knowledge-sharing and dissemination of best practices with regards to Indigenous languages, including data collection, research and application of technological solutions;
• Integration of Indigenous languages into standard setting, including intersectoral approaches across different domains such as education, public administration, innovation and research with a special focus on language technology;