Does the World Need Language Rights?

Does the World Need Language Rights?
Fernand de Varennes, PhD
Research Associate, International Observatory on Human Rights, Université de Moncton, Canada
Extraordinary Professor, Centre for Human Right, University of Pretoria, South Africa

About the Presentation
A non-governmental group is currently taking shape to address an odd omission in international law. While there are UN or UNESCO legal documents dealing with almost every aspect of human life, nature and the world around us, there is one glaring gap: none exists globally to protect linguistic diversity, language rights or even the rights of minorities more generally. 

This seminar will first present briefly why so many governments are opposed to any such development, before considering the underlying currents which curtail any discussion of language rights or the adoption of concrete measures which might protect linguistic diversity. It will end with a discussion from a human rights point of view: why language rights are significant and need to be acknowledged more clearly at the international level. 

About the Speaker
Dr. Fernand de Varennes is a former Director of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Human Rights and the Prevention of Ethnic Conflict in Perth, Australia and the founder of the Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law. He is a Research Associate at the International Observatory on Language Rights at the Université de Moncton in Canada, Extraordinary Professor at the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, as well as visiting professorship at the University of Hong Kong. 

Dr. de Varennes is one of the world's leading legal experts on language rights and the rights of minorities, and has written about 200 publications which have been published in some 30 languages. He has appeared on a number of occasions before UN committees in Geneva and the European Parliament in Brussels, worked with the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, as well as prepared a number of UN linguistic rights of indigenous peoples and minorities; prevention of ethnic conflicts; political participation of minorities) and UNESCO (rights of migrants) papers. He is currently also preparing a practical handbook on the language rights for the UN’s Independent Expert on Minority Issues.

In recognition of his contributions to human and minority rights, Dr. de Varennes was awarded the 2004 Linguapax Award from Spain; was nominated in 2004 for the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in South Korea; and held the Tip O’Neill Peace Fellowship at INCORE (Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity) in Northern Ireland.

Space is limited for this event. Please register no later than Friday, May 1, 2015 by emailing