(Indigenous) Language as a Human Right
84 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2020 Last revised: 22 Sep 2020
Date Written: Spring , 2020
The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2022-2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages. Building on lessons of the International Year of Indigenous Languages of 2019, the Decade will "draw attention to the critical loss of indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote indigenous languages." These actions are necessary, in part, because existing laws and policies have proven inadequate to redress the legacy of state suppression of indigenous languages or ensure nondiscrimination in contemporary usage. In light of the International Year and Decade, this Article explores the rights of indigenous peoples to "use, revitalize, and transmit their languages, "as recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other human rights instruments. The Article considers how a better understanding of the human rights dimensions of the problem - and especially a more thoughtful approach to the "implementation" of human rights in both law and society - could help to advance remedial and ongoing measures toward the realization of indigenous peoples’ language rights going forward.
Keywords: Human rights, Indigenous Peoples, American Indians, Native Americans, Federal Indian Law, Language Rights
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