United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

First meeting of the Task Force on Languages and Multilingualism

The Director-General chaired the first meeting of the Task Force on Languages and Multilingualism on 21 September 2006. The purpose of the Task Force is to identify new strategic orientations and proposals, particularly in the framework of improved intersectoral coordination of available resources in this field (See Blue Note 06/06).

The Assistant Directors-General for Sectors and Programmes, the Assistant Director-General for Africa and the Director of the Bureau for Strategic Planning attended the meeting, as well as many programme specialists who work in the field of languages and multilingualism.

In his opening remarks, the Director-General said that “the theme of languages and multilingualism is receiving more interest and support around the world.” “Proof of this,” he said, “is the relative progress of multilingualism in cyberspace, where a large number of declarations and normative instruments treat the subject, as well as in the many examples of projects aimed at revitalizing languages and international meetings and seminars on the subject.”

On the basis of the strategy document presented by the Assistant Director-General for Culture, the Task Force began to identify a number of domains in which UNESCO could and should work on initiating concrete activities. Among the numerous areas of intervention possible, teacher training and the establishment of a literate environment, multilingualism in cyberspace and initiatives in favour of translations and dialogue were discussed during this first meeting.

The Director-General requested the members of the Task Force on Languages and Multilingualism to prepare a detailed review of activities currently underway, as well as a strategy proposal based on trends in the field. These elements, after a first examination by the Task Force after the 175th session of the Executive Board, will be submitted to the Director-General during a meeting that he will chair scheduled for December 2006 with a view to final validation, before integrating into the proposals relating to the next mid-term strategy and the Programme and Budget for the 2007-2008 biennium.

The current Programme and Budget of the Organization already contains a flagship programme on languages. Of an intersectoral nature, it brings together several activities on languages and multilingualism in all the major programmes of the Organization. In this context, on numerous occasions, since January 2006 the sectors have pooled their resources with a view to realizing common activities in favour of languages and multilingualism. Furthermore, despite “noticeably increasing” intersectoral collaboration, the Director-General wishes “to do more, so that UNESCO can play a significant and recognized role in this complex domain, which is an essential concern of the Organization.”

Author(s): La Porte-paroles - Source: Flash info n°139-2006 -  Publication Date: 22-09-2006

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