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UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF LINGUISTIC RIGHTS
The institutions and non-governmental organizations, signatories to the present Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights, meeting in Barcelona from 6 to 9 June 1996,
Hereby declare that
1. This Declaration considers as a language community any human society established historically in a particular territorial space, whether this space be recognized or not, which identifies itself as a people and has developed a common language as a natural means of communication and cultural cohesion between its members. The term language specific to a terrritory refers to the language of the community historically established in such a space.
2. This Declaration takes as its point of departure the principle that linguistic rights are individual and collective at one and the same time. In defining the full range of linguistic rights, it adopts as its referent the case of a historical language community within its own territorial space, this space being understood, not only as the geographical area where the community lives, but also as the social and functional space vital to the full development of the language. Only on this basis is it possible to define the rights of the language groups mentioned in point 5 of the present article, and those of individuals living outside the territory of their community, in terms of a gradation or continuum.
3. For the purpose of this Declaration, groups are also deemed to be in their own territory and to belong to a language community in the following circumstances:
i. when they are separated from the main body of their community by political or administrative boundaries;
ii. when they have been historically established in a small area surrounded by members of other language communities; or
iii. when they are established in an area which they share with the members of other language communities with similar historical antecedents.
4. This Declaration also considers nomad peoples within their historical areas of migration and peoples historically established in geographically dispersed locations as language communities in their own territory.
5. This Declaration considers as a language group any group of persons sharing the same language which is established in the territorial space of another language community but which does not possess historical antecedents equivalent to those of that community. Examples of such groups are immigrants, refugees, deported persons and members of diasporas.
1. This Declaration considers that, whenever various language communities and groups share the same territory, the rights formulated in this Declaration must be exercised on a basis of mutual respect and in such a way that democracy may be guaranteed to the greatest possible extent.
2. In order to establish the appropriate articulation between the respective rights of such language communities and groups and the persons belonging to them, the quest for a satisfactory sociolinguistic balance must take into account various factors, in addition to their respective historical antecedents in the territory and their democratically expressed will. Among such factors, which may call for compensatory treatment aimed at restoring a balance, are the following: the coercive nature of the migrations which have led to the coexistence of the different communities and groups, and their degree of political, socioeconomic and cultural vulnerability.
1. This Declaration considers the following to be inalienable personal rights which may be exercised in any situation:
and all the other rights related to language which are recognized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the same date.
2. This Declaration considers that the collective rights of language groups, may include the following, in addition to the rights attributed to the members of language groups in the foregoing paragraph, and in accordance with the conditions laid down in article 2.2:
3. The aforementioned rights of persons and language groups must in no way hinder the interrelation of such persons or groups with the host language community or their integration into that community. Nor must they restrict the rights of the host community or its members to the full public use of the community's own language throughout its territorial space.
1. This Declaration considers that persons who move to and settle in the territory of another language community have the right and the duty to maintain an attitude of integration towards this community. This term is understood to mean an additional socialization of such persons in such a way that they may preserve their original cultural characteristics while sharing with the society in which they have settled sufficient references, values and forms of behaviour to enable them to function socially without greater difficulties than those experienced by members of the host community.
2. This Declaration considers, on the other hand, that assimilation, a term which is understood to mean acculturation in the host society, in such a way that the original cultural characteristics are replaced by the references, values and forms of behaviour of the host society, must on no account be forced or induced and can only be the result of an entirely free decision.
This Declaration is based on the principle that the rights of all language communities are equal and independent of their legal status as official, regional or minority languages. Terms such as regional or minority languages are not used in this Declaration because, though in certain cases the recognition of regional or minority languages can facilitate the exercise of certain rights, these and other modifiers are frequently used to restrict the rights of language communities.
This Declaration considers that a language cannot be considered specific to a territory merely on the grounds that it is the official language of the state or has been traditionally used within the territory for administrative purposes or for certain cultural activities.
1. All languages are the expression of a collective identity and of a distinct way of perceiving and describing reality and must therefore be able to enjoy the conditions required for their development in all functions.
2. All languages are collectively constituted and are made available within a community for individual use as tools of cohesion, identification, communication and creative expression.
1. All language communities have the right to organize and manage their own resources so as to ensure the use of their language in all functions within society.
2. All language communities are entitled to have at their disposal whatever means are necessary to ensure the transmission and continuity of their language.
All language communities have the right to codify, standardize, preserve, develop and promote their linguistic system, without induced or forced interference.
1. All language communities have equal rights.
2. This Declaration considers discrimination against language communities to be inadmissible, whether it be based on their degree of political sovereignty, their situation defined in social, economic or other terms, the extent to which their languages have been codified, updated or modernized, or on any other criterion.
3. All necessary steps must be taken in order to implement this principle of equality and to render it real and effective.
All language communities are entitled to have at their disposal whatever means of translation into and from other languages are needed to guarantee the exercise of the rights contained in this Declaration.
1. Everyone has the right to carry out all activities in the public sphere in his/her language, provided it is the language specific to the territory where s/he resides.
2. Everyone has the right to use his/her language in the personal and family sphere.
1. Everyone has the right to know the language specific to the territory in which s/he lives.
2. Everyone has the right to be polyglot and to know and use the language most conducive to his/her personal development or social mobility, without prejudice to the guarantees established in this Declaration for the public use of the language specific to the territory.
The provisions of this Declaration cannot be interpreted or used to the detriment of any norm or practice deriving from the internal or international status of a language which is more favourable to its use within the territory to which it is specific.
Overall linguistic regime
Public administration and official bodies
1. All language communities are entitled to the official use of their language within their territory.
2. All language communities have the right for legal and administrative acts, public and private documents and records in public registers which are drawn up in the language of the territory to be valid and effective and no one can allege ignorance of this language.
All language communities have the right to communicate in their own language with the central, territorial, local and supraterritorial services of the public authorities and of those administrative divisions which include the territory to which the language is specific.
1. All language communities are entitled to have at their disposal and to obtain in their own language all official documents pertaining to relations which affect the territory to which the language is specific, whether such documents be in printed, machine-readable or any other form.
2. Forms and standard administrative documents, whether in printed, machine-readable or any other form, must be made available and placed at the disposal of the public in all territorial languages by the public authorities through the services which cover the territories to which each language is specific.
1. All language communities have the right for laws and other legal provisions which concern them to be published in the language specific to the territory.
2. Public authorities who have more than one territorially historic language within their jurisdiction must publish all laws and other legal provisions of a general nature in each of these languages, whether or not their speakers understand other languages.
1. Representative Assemblies must have as their official language(s) the language(s) historically spoken in the territory they represent.
2. This right also applies to the languages of the communities established in geographically dispersed locations referred to in Article 1, Paragraph 4.
1. Everyone has the right to use the language historically spoken in a territory, both orally and in writing, in the Courts of Justice located within that territory. The Courts of Justice must use the language specific to the territory in their internal actions and, if on account of the legal system in force within the state, the proceedings continue elsewhere, the use of the original language must be maintained.
2. Notwithstanding the above, everyone has the right to be tried in a language which s/he understands and can speak and to obtain the services of an interpreter free of charge.
All language communities have the right for records in public registers to be drawn up in the language specific to the territory.
All language communities have the right for documents authenticated by notaries public or certified by other authorized public servants to be drawn up in the language specific to the territory where the notary or other authorized public servant performs his/her functions.
1. Education must help to foster the capacity for linguistic and cultural self-expression of the language community of the territory where it is provided.
2. Education must help to maintain and develop the language spoken by the language community of the territory where it is provided.
3. Education must always be at the service of linguistic and cultural diversity and of harmonious relations between different language communities throughout the world.
4. Within the context of the foregoing principles, everyone has the right to learn any language.
All language communities have the right to decide to what extent their language is to be present, as a vehicular language and as an object of study, at all levels of education within their territory: preschool, primary, secondary, technical and vocational, university, and adult education.
All language communities are entitled to have at their disposal all the human and material resources necessary to ensure that their language is present to the extent they desire at all levels of education within their territory: properly trained teachers, appropriate teaching methods, text books, finance, buildings and equipment, traditional and innovative technology.
All language communities are entitled to an education which will enable their members to acquire a full command of their own language, including the different abilities relating to all the usual spheres of use, as well as the most extensive possible command of any other language they may wish to know.
All language communities are entitled to an education which will enable their members to acquire knowledge of any languages related to their own cultural tradition, such as literary or sacred languages which were formerly habitual languages of the community.
All language communities are entitled to an education which will enable their members to acquire a thorough knowledge of their cultural heritage (history, geography, literature, and other manifestations of their own culture), as well as the most extensive possible knowledge of any other culture they may wish to know.
1. Everyone is entitled to receive an education in the language specific to the territory where s/he resides.
2. This right does not exclude the right to acquire oral and written knowledge of any language which may be of use to him/her as an instrument of communication with other language communities.
The language and culture of all language communities must be the subject of study and research at university level.
All language communities have the right to preserve and use their own system of proper names in all spheres and on all occasions.
1. All language communities have the right to use place names in the language specific to the territory, both orally and in writing, in the private, public and official spheres.
2. All language communities have the right to establish, preserve and revise autochthonous place names. Such place names cannot be arbitrarily abolished, distorted or adapted, nor can they be replaced if changes in the political situation, or changes of any other type, occur.
All language communities have the right to refer to themselves by the name used in their own language. Any translation into other languages must avoid ambiguous or pejorative denominations.
Everyone has the right to the use of his/her own name in his/her own language in all spheres, as well as the right, only when necessary, to the most accurate possible phonetic transcription of his/her name in another writing system.
Communications media and new technologies
All language communities have the right to decide the extent to which their language is be present in all the communications media in their territory, whether local and traditional media, those with a wider scope, or those using more advanced technology, regardless of the method of dissemination or transmission employed.
All language communities are entitled to have at their disposal all the human and material resources required in order to ensure the desired degree of presence of their language and the desired degree of cultural self-expression in the communications media in their territory: properly trained personnel, finance, buildings and equipment, traditional and innovative technology.
All language communities have the right to receive, through the communications media, a thorough knowledge of their cultural heritage (history, geography, literature and other manifestations of their own culture), as well as the greatest possible amount of information about any other culture their members may wish to know.
The languages and cultures of all language communities must receive equitable and non-discriminatory treatment in the communications media throughout the world.
The communities described in Article 1, paragraphs 3 and 4, of this Declaration, and the groups mentioned in paragraph 5 of the same article, are entitled to an equitable representation of their language in the communications media of the territory where they are established or where they migrate. This right is to be exercised in harmony with the rights of the other language groups or communities in the territory.
In the field of information technology, all language communities are entitled to have at their disposal equipment adapted to their linguistic system and tools and products in their language, so as to derive full advantage from the potential offered by such technologies for publication, translation and information processing and for the dissemination of culture in general.
1. All language communities have the right to use, maintain and foster their language in all forms of cultural expression.
2. All language communities must be able to exercise this right to the full without any community's space being subjected to hegemonic occupation by a foreign culture.
All language communities have the right to full development within their own cultural sphere.
All language communities are entitled to access to the works produced in their language.
All language communities are entitled to access to intercultural programmes through the dissemination of adequate information, and to support for activities such as teaching the language to foreigners, translation, dubbing, post-synchronization and subtitling.
All language communities have the right for the language specific to the territory to occupy a pre-eminent position in cultural events and services (libraries, videoth╦ques, cinemas, theatres, museums, archives, folklore, cultural industries, and all other manifestations of cultural life).
All language communities have the right to preserve their linguistic and cultural heritage, including its material manifestations, such as collections of documents, works of art and architecture, historic monuments and inscriptions in their own language.
The socioeconomic sphere
1. All language communities have the right to establish the use of their language in all socioeconomic activities within their territory.
2. All language communities are entitled to have at their disposal, in their own language, all the means necessary for the performance of their professional activities, such as documents and works of reference, instructions, forms and computer equipment, tools and products.
3. The use of other languages in this sphere can only be required in so far as it is justified by the nature of the professional activity involved. In no case can a more recently arrived language relegate or supersede the use of the language specific to the territory.
1. All language communities have the right to use their language with full legal validity in economic transactions of all types, such as the sale and purchase of goods and services, banking, insurance, job contracts and others.
2. No clause in such private acts can exclude or restrict the use of a language in the territory to which it is specific.
3. All language communities are entitled to have the documents required for the performance of the above-mentioned operations at their disposal in their own language. Such documents include forms, cheques, contracts, invoices, receipts, delivery notes, order forms, and others.
All language communities have the right to use their language in all types of socioeconomic organizations such as labour and union organizations, and employers', professional, trade and craft associations.
1. All language communities have the right for their language to occupy a pre-eminent place in advertising, signs, external signposting, and all other elements that make up the image of the country.
2. All language communities have the right to receive full oral and written information in their own language on the products and services proposed by commercial establishments in the territory, such as instructions for use, labels, lists of ingredients, advertising, guarantees and others.
3. All public signs and announcements affecting the safety of the public must be written at least in the language specific to the territory, in conditions which are not inferior to those of any other language.
1. Everyone has the right to use the language specific to the territory in his/her relations with firms, commercial establishments and private bodies and to be served or receive a reply in the same language.
2. Everyone has the right, as a client, customer, consumer or user, to receive oral and written information in the language specific to the territory from establishments open to the public.
Everyone has the right to carry out his/her professional activities in the language specific to the territory unless the functions inherent to the job require the use of other languages, as in the case of language teachers, translators or tourist guides.
The public authorities must take all appropriate steps to implement the rights proclaimed in this Declaration within their respective areas of jurisdiction. More specifically, international funds must be set up to foster the exercise of linguistic rights in communities which are demostrably lacking in resources. Thus the public authorities must provide the necessary support so that the languages of the various communities may be codified, transcribed, taught, and used in the administration.
The public authorities must ensure that the authorities, organizations and persons concerned are informed of the rights and correlative duties arising from this Declaration.
The public authorities must establish, in the light of existing legislation, the sanctions arising from the violation of the linguistic rights laid down in this Declaration.
This Declaration proposes the creation of a Council of Languages within the United Nations Organization. The General Assembly of the United Nations Organization is to be responsible for setting up this Council, defining its functions and appointing its members, and for creating a body in international law to protect language communities in the exercise of the rights recognized in this Declaration.
This Declaration recommends and promotes the creation of a World Commission on Linguistic Rights, a non-official, consultative body made up of representatives of non-governmental organizations and organizations working in the field of linguistic law.
Barcelona, June 1996
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