"Language is an important matter – it permeates the whole body of international human rights"

Statement by the Deputy Head of Mission Stein-Ivar Lothe Eide.

Mr. Language Commissioner
Ambassadors
Friends and colleagues

Thank you for the invitation, and for the opportunity to address this Conference.
Our starting point is similar to that of the previous speakers: Language is an important matter – it permeates the whole body of international human rights, from non-discrimination on the basis of language, to the right to fair legal proceedings, freedom of expression, cultural and educational rights.

It is a fundamental aspect of the rights of minority communities and their members, not least their right to maintain, express, develop and enhance the essential elements of their identity.

And I think it is fair to say that it is a matter that evokes basic expectations about life in a European, democratic, inclusive and peaceful society.
We stress this, to underline that minority rights, including those that relate to language, are not a concern only for the minorities.

It concerns everyone.

In the Kosovo context, it concerns the basic functioning of the Constitutional order – respect for and the implementation of the law of the land.

It is important.

And we listen with keen interest to the Presentation by the Language Commissioner, and the many organisations that are seeking to advance this agenda.
It is clear that there is substantial room for improvements in the implementation of the Law on Languages.

We understand that capacity is an important constraint, and that creating that capacity is an expensive and difficult undertaking.
But there is no satisfactory alternative.
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Language Commissioner
As a donor, and a principled supporter of the rights of the non-majority communities, we have supported some of the projects that are to present at today’s conference.
Our aim has been to support good forces working to improve the lives of ordinary citizens; to improve the rule of law; to assist institutions in building their capacities; and to advance true reconciliation among communities.
We will remain a consistent partner in efforts to advance this agenda.
We wish you a fruitful discussion, and thank you again for organising this event.
Thank you.