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UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: Indigenous languages

Joint Nordic Statement delivered by Deputy Permanent Representative Odd-Inge Kvalheim at the 20th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on the International Decade of Indigenous Languages

I have the honor to make this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries: Denmark together with Greenland, Iceland, Sweden, Finland and my own country Norway.

First, we will take the opportunity to thank UNESCO for their efforts to plan the International Decade of Indigenous Languages. We greatly appreciate the work of the UNESCO and the Steering Committee for the International Language Year 2019. We further wish to acknowledge the important role of the Global Task Force for the Decade, and in particular the indigenous peoples' representatives.

An international decade can be used to encourage the international society to make a long-lasting commitment to save and strengthen indigenous peoples’ languages. When planning and carrying out the decade it is important to have transparent and inclusive processes. Meaningful participation by indigenous peoples both nationally and internationally is crucial. At the same time, the states' involvement and active participation is essential.

Indigenous peoples’ languages are often spoken across borders. It is important that the states cooperate and make joint efforts to preserve and develop the indigenous peoples’ languages in their area.

Our goal must be that the indigenous peoples’ languages shall be alive and in active use on all arenas alongside the majority language. To succeed in this, we must as far as possible make it easy to use the languages.

Therefore, modern language technology is an important element. Partnerships between technologists, policy makers and language users are central to secure the indigenous peoples’ languages a place in our future society. In the Arctic region, these partnerships are with the Sami and the Inuits.

In Norway, we are working on establishing a dialogue with large technological companies and with the Sámediggi (the Sami Parliament) to find solutions that can work for all. We hope that this cooperation will have valuable outcomes.

Thank you.