Language Planning and Human Rights :
Some Preliminary Comments
Symposium on Linguistic Human Rights
Tallinn, 13-15 October 1991
The organizers of the symposium on Linguistic Human Rights seek to depict the situation of linguistic rights on the background of general human rights and the international law and how these principles apply to different categories of people (immigrants, indigenous people, regional minorities, stateless groups, majority populations, etc.). They also want to discuss political constraints and limitations affecting Linguistic Human Rights. On tha last day of the symposium they plan to draft a final document. This paper is intended to provide some background information that could be of use in the drafting of the symposium's final document.
The first part of this paper will be a brief presentation of the question of the protection of minorities (more precisely aboriginal people) at the international level; this is based on a recent survey concerning the indigenous languages of the Americas (Maurais, forthcoming a) which will be the first chapter of a book on Québec's native languages due to appear at the beginning of 1992 (Maurais, forthcoming b).
The second part will sketch the general features of the new situation arising from recent international treaties on commerce (such as free-trade agreements) as they impact on languages.
The third section will deal with the at times controversial question of freedom of choice in language matters.
The fourth section will comment on the need for a common language expressed in many language planning projects, which obviously is in more than a way reminiscent of the Jacobinist ideology. Nevertheless, this problem cannot be evacuated from discussion as it is central to many recent language laws.
The fifth and last section will propose some sociolinguistic principles applicable in a major language planning project such as a switch-over from a language to another (for instance, a switch-over from English to French in the workplace).
As the present author is no jurist, it should be borne in mind that the discussion of Linguistic Human Rights will be made more from a sociolinguistic perspective than from a purely legalistic point of view.
2. Legal protection of languages and minorities at the international level
As already stated in the introduction, this section will look at the protection of minorities mainly from the point of view of the protection of aboriginal people as the present author has just completed a survey on that topic. Clearly, other texts (such as the Helsinki Agreement or the bill on regional linguistic minorities under discussion at the European Parliament) should be introduced to give a more thorough picture of the international guarantees given to minorities; but this aspect will be left to other participants of the symposium.
The main international texts dealing more or less closely with the question of the protection af aboriginal rights are the following : Charter of the United Nations (section 1, par. 3; section 13; section 55; section 73); Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide; International Covenant on civil and political rights; and Convention against discriminations in education (see Stavenhagen, 1988 : 119-134). According to Stavenhagen (1988 : 129), who has carried on the most thorough survey on the legal protection of aboriginal minorities in the Americas, of all texts adopted by the United Nations, it is section 27 of the International Covenant on civil and political rights that is the most important for indigenous populations; section 27 reads as follows (official English version unavailable to this author) :
Dans les États où il existe des minorités ethniques, religieuses ou linguistiques, les personnes appartenant à ces minorités ne peuvent être privées du droit d'avoir, en commun avec les autres membres de leur groupe, leur propre vie culturelle, de professer et de pratiquer leur propre religion, ou d'employer leur propre langue.
The United Nations documents, according to Rainer Enrique Hamel (1990), are a weak basis for the defence of linguistic rights; they establish individual fundamental rights and forbid discrimination based on race, sex, religion or language; as to linguistic rights, this is not sufficient since those texts specify the rights of individuals, not of minority groups, and they do not compel the States to take the initiative in protecting minorities. Nevertheless, section 27 of the International Covenant on civil and political rights contains an embryo -- however still-born as it may look -- of collective linguistic rights.
Two documents produced by the International Labour Organization concern aboriginal populations : new convention No. 169 (replacing convention No. 107) and recommendation No. 104. Preamble of convention No. 169 states that there is a need to adopt new international standards in order to cancel the orientation of former standards the aim of which was assimilation ("il y a lieu d'adopter de nouvelles normes internationales [...] en vue de supprimer l'orientation des normes antérieures, qui visaient à l'assimilation"). Section 28 of recommendation No. 169 refers more specifically to language (it will be quoted in French as the English version is not available to this writer) :
1. Lorsque cela est réalisable, un enseignement doit être donné aux enfants des peuples intéressés pour leur apprendre à lire et à écrire dans leur propre langue indigène ou dans la langue qui est le plus communément utilisée par le groupe auquel ils appartiennent. Lorsque cela n'est pas réalisable, les autorités compétentes doivent entreprendre des consultations avec ces peuples en vue de l'adoption de mesures permettant d'atteindre cet objectif.
2. Des mesures adéquates doivent être prises pour assurer que ces peuples aient la possibilité d'atteindre la maîtrise de la langue nationale ou de l'une des langues officielles du pays.
3. Des dispositions doivent être prises pour sauvegarder les langues indigènes des peuples intéressés et en promouvoir le développement et la pratique.
Recommendation No. 104 contains a section (section 9) on the language to be used in communications with workers belonging to aboriginal populations :
Aussi longtemps que les populations intéressées ne seront pas en situation de jouir de la protection accordée par la loi aux travailleurs en général, le recrutement des travailleurs appartenant à ces populations devrait être réglementé, en particulier, au moyen de mesures destinées à : [...]
f) s'assurer que le travailleur :
i) a bien compris les conditions d'emploi, grâce à des explications données dans sa langue maternelle.
The Interamerican Charter of social guarantees (resolution No. 29 of the Organization of American States) is "a catalogue, incredibly modern and progressive, of social rights" (judgment quoted by Stavenhagen, 1988 : 144). Section 39 of the aforementioned Charter reads as follows :
In countries with a problem of indigenous population, arrangements should be taken to give assistance and protection to the Indians, to guarantee their lives, freedom and property, to protect them against extermination, to protect them from oppression, exploitation and destitution, to educate them in an appropriate manner. [...] Institutions or services must be set up for the protection of Indians, particularly in order to have their territorial claims respected, to legalise possession of their lands and to prevent foreigners to invade their lands (rough translation from Spanish).
The Interamerican Charter is thus an effort to create obligations for the states and in this sense it is a prerequisite for the defence of minority groups. But it says nothing about collective rights for the same endangered groups.
A United Nations draft document (Draft Universal Declaration on Indigenous Rights as contained in document E/CN.4/Sub.2/1988/25) mentions certain collective rights such as the right to preserve and develop ethnic and cultural identity and the right to protection against ethnocide (that is against assimilation or forced integration and imposition of alien life styles).
Finally, it can be mentioned that some work has been done on an international definition of "aboriginal population". The following definition has been proposed :
Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems (Martínez Cobo, 1987 : 29, § 379).
As can be gathered from the preceding presentation, there is now an incipient tendency, at the international level, to recognize some collective rights, at least insofar as the indigenous populations are concerned. This is a striking difference from the situation which prevailed formerly and which consisted essentially in guaranteeing individual personal rights.
Protection granted to the indigenous languages at the national level (in the constitutions, in various laws and administrative documents) will not be dealt with here; for an overview of the situation in the Americas, please refer to Maurais (forthcoming a); see also Gauthier, Leclerc and Maurais (forthcoming) which is a collection of all language-related provisions in the constitutions of the various sovereign or non-sovereign states of the world.
A last word of caution is needed before concluding this section : only aboriginal linguistic minorities have been considered here owing to the fact that this author has just completed a study of this question. But it seems that other aspects of the protection of language rights have not been dealt with so far at the international level : the most obvious shortcoming in this respect would be the lack of attention paid to the question of "regional linguistic majorities" which, though majoritary in their historic territory (where they may nevertheless be experiencing some form of assimilation), are minorities at the national level. By the phrase "regional linguistic majorities" are understood situations like that of French in Québec, Catalan in the Catalan Countries (Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Valencia, Roussillon, Andorra), and of course Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and other languages in the pre-1991 Soviet Union (by the way, Latvian is a clear instance of a receding majority since the Latvian ethnic component of the population of the Latvian SSR fell from 62 % in 1959 to 54 % in 1979; Estonian might serve as another exemple since, over the same period, it fell from 74.6 % to 64.7 %, see Rannut, 1989 : 16 ; situations like these ones should be dealt with before they became incorporated under the heading "aboriginal minorities").
3. New linguistic situation arising from the suppression of barriers to free trade
In some cases language can be considered as a non-tariff barrier to free trade. Minority languages would be most vulnerable to such legal interpretations. Free trade treaties are above all commercial agreements and it is not to be expected that a state would put its economic relations in jeopardy for non-economic reasons, for instance linguistic reasons. Nevertheless it is highly probable that more and more court decisions on free trade agreements will entail linguistic consequences. Examples from the European Community will serve as an illustration of this problem.
First example : the ISMUNIT case (SGD/11505 of 6.9.1985). A French laboratory demanded that the labels on reagents produced by an Italian laboratory should also be worded in French and not only in English. The Commission of the European Communities decided that the French demand would be detrimental to commerce and added that the French researchers were bound to know English owing to their specialized training.
Second example : the France Quick case (SG 8791 of 8.7.1985 & SG 9123 of 17.7.1985). This French corporation had been condemned by a French court on the ground that it had used on the menus of its restaurants English words such as "big-cheese", "fishburger", "coffee-drink", "milk-shakes" without the French translation that was compulsory according to the Law No. 75-1349 of 31 December 1975 (on the use of the French language). The European Commission sent a memorandum to the French government in July of 1985 indicating that the decision handed down by the French court was excessive and that the obligation to use French constituted an additional economic cost on import operations.
There is however a counterexample where linguistic requirements preventing the circulation of people, goods and services have been held by a European court. This is the Anita Groener case (Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxemburg, 379/87). On 28 November 1989 the Court handed down its decision on the requirements established by the Irish government that applicants to an appointment as teacher of plastic arts should have a certain knowledge of Irish. The job had been denied to a Dutch applicant on the ground that she did not have the required knowledge of Irish. The Court had to give a ruling on the following points :
- the main objective of the requirement of Irish was to prevent applicants from other member states to get the job;
- knowledge of Irish was not necessary on the job as classes were given mostly in English.
The European Court accepted this policy of promoting Irish as a way to express national culture and identity in view of the fact that Irish is the first official language of Ireland. The Court added that this kind of policy is acceptable provided it is not out of proportion to the goal sought and that it does not bring about discrimination (see the summary and comments by Solé i Durany, 1991).
Court decisions on free trade agreements insofar as they impact on the legal use of languages are a relatively new phenomenon and should require special monitoring before it can be determined whether or not they are detrimental to non-dominant languages. This is an aspect that can change the situation of linguistic rights at the international level in the years to come.
4. Freedom of choice
In Canada, the phrase "freedom of choice" usually refers to the freedom granted (or denied) to the parents to choose the language of schooling for their children; it also applies, on a much less controversial scale, to the freedom granted to individuals dealing with ministries and agencies of the federal government to receive services in one of Canada's both official languages, English or French. Only the problems arising in the education sector will be dealt with in this section.
First of all, it must be remembered that freedom of choice, especially when it relates to education, is often considered in the sociolinguistic literature as being detrimental to linguistic minorities. What could be called linguistic liberalism is in fact non-intervention in language matters but this non-intervention is not so neutral as it could seem from a superficial perspective; as a matter of fact, it is favourable to the dominant language in the existing language competition. In other words, "Le discours libéral n'est plus que la couverture d'interventions avantageant les couches ayant intérêt à la conservation d'une situation langagière qui leur est favorable" [Liberalism is a cover for interventions to the advantage of population strata whose interests rest in the perpetuation of a linguistic situation that is favourable to them] (Guespin & Marcellesi, 1986 : 17). Paradoxically, this liberal policy of freedom of choice for the language of schooling has perhaps been best exemplified in the totalitarian regime of the Soviet Union, especially on the occasion of the Education Reform of 1958-9 under Khrushchev (see Bilinsky, 1962 or Maurais, 1990). According to Hélène Carrère d'Encausse (1978 : chapter 5), this freedom of choice granted to Soviet parents to choose between Russian and their ethnic language as the medium of schooling was favourable to the Russian language. According to a Catalan sociolinguist, freedom of choice in education is the best system to perpetuate cultural and linguistic inequalities (Puig, 1983 : 37; for inequalities in the educational system on a more general level, see Bourdieu & Passeron, 1964). But it is actually more than that : seen from a historical perspective, freedom of choice paves the way to ethnolinguistic assimilation.
The preceding general considerations can be best understood if applied to a concrete case. In the Province of Québec, the majority of the population is French-speaking (some 83 % according to the latest census). Nevertheless, there was a marked tendency, especially after World War II, for the newly arrived immigrants to send their children to the English school, which according to some demographers in the late 60's could turn Montreal into an English city by the beginning of the third millennium as Francophones, because of their declining birth-rate, could not offset the number of immigrants that were swelling English-speaking ranks. Not only immigrants but also French-speaking Quebecers were more attracted to English schools than to French schools : in 1971-2, 85 % of immigrant youngsters attended English schools while only 15 % attended French schools (Saint-Germain, 1980) and in 1973 25,000 French-speaking youngsters were enrolled in English schools (Duchesne, 1973). The need was felt to intervene as French, which is a majority language in the Province of Québec, is a minority language at the Canadian level; the aforementioned question of "regional majority languages" (often in a federation) is a very acute one and requires special attention in language planning.
In order to reverse demographic trends unfavourable to French and taking into account the fact that Canada is a land of immigration, legislative action was taken. Laws were adopted by Québec's National Assembly : Bill 22 in 1974 and the Charter of the French Language (also informally called Bill 101) in 1977. These are two all-encompassing pieces of legislation. Their two main sectors of intervention are education and the workplace, which are the pivotal aspect of Québec's language legislation since it had already become obvious by the late 1960's that immigrants would only attend French schools if French were required on the job.
The Charter of the French Language is currently in force. In the area of fundamental rights the Charter sets forth the following principle : "Every person eligible for instruction in Québec has a right to receive that instruction in French" (section 6). The original (i.e. 1977) version of the Charter recognized the right to instruction in English of a child whose father or mother had received elementary instruction in English in Québec (section 73a), a child whose father or mother was domiciled in Québec when the Charter came into force and had received his or her elementary instruction in English outside Québec (section 73b), and a child, and his or her brothers and sisters, who, when the Charter was adopted, were already receiving instruction in English in Québec, in a kindergarten, elementary or secondary school (section 73c and d). These provisions were compatible with the Constitution of 1867 that guaranteed Protestant instruction in Québec (which at the time meant instruction in English, for all practical purposes).
These rules have had a number of repercussions on Québec's linguistic communities. Francophones (with the exception of those who attended English elementary school) no longer have the freedom to choose the language in which their children receive their education : they must send them to a French school. Anglophones still have the right to choose between French and English schools. Immigrants can no longer attend English educational institutions.
It should also be mentioned that the chapter of the Charter of the French Language devoted to the language of instruction gives all categories of citizens (no matter their maternal language) complete freedom in choosing the language of instruction at the Cegep (pre-university) and university levels. Parents may also choose the language of instruction at the elementary and secondary levels if they enroll their children in non-subsidized private institutions.
At the time the Charter of the French Language was discussed at the National Assembly, the Québec government proposed reciprocity agreements with the governments of the English-speaking provinces : people coming from these provinces would be granted permission to send their children to English schools in Québec provided these provinces gave their French minorities the same education facilities as those granted to its English minority by the Québec government (this was section 86 of the Charter : "The Government may make regulations extending the scope of section 73 to include such persons as may be contemplated in any reciprocity agreement between the Gouvernement du Québec and another province"). The reciprocity agreements were supposed to redress the historic denial of access to French education in many English provinces, for "since Confederation until relatively recently, francophones outside Quebec were systematically denied educational services that adequately reflected their linguistic needs and aspirations" (Mallea, 1984 : 229). No province has since accepted to sign such an agreement; but following the adoption of the Charter of the French Language the government of Québec decided to recognize that New Brunswick granted its French minority the same educational facilities as those enjoyed by the English-speaking minority in Québec and accordingly people migrating from New Brunswick were entitled to send their children to an English-medium school.
Certain aspects of the provisions contained in the Charter of the French Language were modified rather substantially when the Supreme Court of Canada noted, in July of 1984, that new constitutional rules (adopted without Québec's consent) had changed Québec's capacity to enact or enforce its own conditions for access to instruction in English. The Supreme Court recognized that a part of the 1982 Constitutional Act of Canada (particularly section 23) was designed to establish a different system of access to instruction in English. The judgment handed down opened the door to English instruction to two new categories of children : a child whose father or mother had received elementary instruction in English anywhere in Canada, and the brothers and sisters of a child of a Canadian citizen, who had received or was receiving elementary or secondary instruction in English in Canada. It should also be noted that the children of Canadian citizens whose mother tongue was English (even if these citizens had not attended English school in Canada) would be eligible for English instruction in Québec if so authorized by the Québec government under the provisions of section 59 of the 1982 Constitutional Act.
On a practical plane, the net result of the Charter of the French Language is that some 75 % children of immigrants are now enrolled in French schools.
On a more theoretical plane, the decisions handed down by the Supreme Court of Canada seem to imply that, as far as linguistic rights are concerned (at least insofar as they relate to education), the rules applying to immigrants are different from the rules applying to citizens. In other words, it has been accepted that immigrants from outside Canada may have to send their children to French schools in Québec whereas migrants from other provinces still have the choice between French and English schools. It should also be noted that the federal government and the other provincial governments when devising amendments to the Canadian Constitution in 1982 (without the presence of representatives of the Québec government) along with the Supreme Court of Canada in its decisions based on the new Constitutional Act of 1982 have in fact accepted the criterium of eligibility to instruction in English as established by Québec's authorities : eligibility is now determined on the basis of the language in which at least one of the parents has received his or her elementary education; this criterium is a manageable and objective one (it can be proved by documents) whereas eligibility based on the maternal language has proven to be inapplicable and the source of many social tensions.
5. The Common Language Question
This is a moot question. People making efforts to promote a common language in a bi- or multilingual community take a risk to be called linguistic Jacobinists. Many nationalities in the Soviet Union have been resentful at what was perceived as Russian chauvinism trying to impose Russian as a lingua franca (under the name jazyk mezhnacional'nogo obshchenia); analogous reactions came from many Russian-speaking minorities when various Soviet republic passed language laws declaring official the language of the titular nationality. This question will only be touched on here; owing to its sensitivity, such an issue would need a much more thorough discussion.
In the case of what has been termed above "regional linguistic majorities", the need is felt, for the language to survive, to have it as the common language of the various groups making up the population. At the same time, this has to be done in due respect to the linguistic minorities.
As to Québec, the Charter of the French Language, in its preamble, declares that French should become the common language in the following way :
[...] the National Assembly of Québec recognizes that Québecers wish to see the quality and influence of the French language assured, and is resolved therefore to make of French the language of Government and the Law, as well as the normal and everyday language of work, instruction, communication, commerce and business; [...]
Having French as the common language of Québec could be best obtained, it was thought, through imposing it as the teaching medium of newcomers and as the normal language to be used on the job. Guarantees were given to the English-speaking historic community that it would retain its institutions and the right of the Amerinds and the Inuit (formerly, the Eskimos) was recognized to preserve and develop their original languages and cultures. The new status of French as the common language was thought to be best exemplified if French were the only language to be used on public commercial signs. This was so in order to send a clear signal to the immigrants that they were coming to live in a French-speaking society; the late premier René Lévesque justified French unilingualism on public signs in the following way :
In its own way, each bilingual sign says to the immigrant : there are two languages here, French and English, and you choose the one you want. To the Anglophone, it says : you don't need to learn French; everything is translated (quoted from Maurais, 1989 : 145).
Immigrants are offered the opportunity to learn French through a network of special institutions called COFI's ("Centres d'orientation et de formation des immigrants"). The public school system also offers the opportunity for the children to learn their ethnic language (PELO, "Programme d'enseignement des langues d'origine"). In a recent policy statement, Québec's Ministry of Immigration has introduced a new concept, that of a "moral contract" binding the immigrant and the host society. According to this moral contract, the immigrant must accept that French is the common language of public life in Québec. The policy statement adds that command of a common language is different from linguistic assimilation. It also explains that Québec, as a democratic society, does not interfere in the right of the individuals to use whatever language they want in their private life. Finally it is stated that ethnic languages are an economic, social and cultural asset for the whole population of Québec (Ministère des Communautés culturelles et de l'Immigration, 1990 : 15-16).
It should also be added that in 1986 the Québec government passed Bill 142 which guarantees social and health services in English. Many health services, especially in the Greater Montreal area, have taken steps to provide their patients with services in many foreign languages. This is most important since illness is a circumstance when a human being is most vulnerable.
5. Some basic sociolinguistic principles
Some basic sociolinguistic principles can be derived from Québec's experience in language planning. It remains to be seen whether they will hold true in every other circumstance. They will be presented here rather schematically.
(1) Need for a prior sociolinguistic description
A language planning project must be based on a thorough sociolinguistic description. On the basis of that description realistic goals must be set.
(2) Need for state intervention
When a language planning project aims at a massive switch-over (such as making French, instead of English, the usual language in the workplace), one must realize that the individual is helpless. An individual alone cannot bring about such a massive language change in a business firm, let alone in a whole society. In other words, one must do away with voluntarism. The state has to set the rules and to provide some sort of control (this, by the way, is in the opinion of the current author a major flaw in the 1989-1990 language laws of the Soviet republics as no state agency is entrusted with all the practical aspects of implementing the swith-over from Russian; see Maurais, 1991).
(3) Need for visible change
The population must perceive that change has been made or is under way, otherwise the situation will be seen as hopeless. Speakers chronically suffering from linguistic insecurity must be driven out of their vicious circle. Three domains were selected in Québec in that respect : 1. Public commercial signs; 2. Terminology in the workplace (i.e. doing away with English and Franglais terms); 3. School enrolment (easily checked through official statistics). As Corbeil (1977 : 12; translation) wrote :
We have therefore chosen a number of highly visible, concrete manifestations of language and we have made them the subject of provisions in the Charter of the French Language. These manifestations are : company names, signs, advertising and terminology. The changes that are occurring and will occur in these areas are directly visible and actually modify what we perceive with our eyes and ears. This will be an obvious confirmation for everyone that the law is effective, that things are changing.
(4) Domains of non-intervention
The law must define the domains where the official language is to be used, alone or with another language. All the other domains, and especially all private domains (including religion), are to remain untouched.
(5) Special status of bilingualism
Everyone agrees that bilingualism is an asset for the individual. But when it comes to social bilingualism (which more often than not is synonymous with diglossia, that is a relationship between a dominant language and a dominated one), the situation is no longer so clear as bilingualism is usually an intermediary step to later unilingualism in the dominant language. In Québec, social bilingualism has been deemed to be detrimental to French : systematic bilingualism as used to be the rule before the language laws of the 1970's meant that immigrants, when offered the choice between French and English, usually opted for the second. Québec's language laws therefore provide for a certain regulation of bilingualism : for instance, business firms have to negociate with a specially commissioned government agency (Office de la langue française, "French Language Bureau") the list of positions that require the knowledge of a language other than French; these positions are indeed necessary in order to ensure communication with the departments of the firm situated outside Québec and with firms from outside Québec.
In other language planning projects, bilingualism plays a very different part. This is so in cases where the decline of the language is more acute than it was in Québec. In such instances requirements of generalized bilingualism may be the first step to restore the language. This is clearly the case in Latvia (where the titular nationality is on the verge to loose its status of majority). Section 22 of the Latvian Law on languages stipulates that citizens shall be reimbursed for any losses due to a failure of employees to speak Latvian or Russian and that this reimbursement may even be demanded from the guilty employee; according to section 23, infringement on a citizen's freedom of language choice shall bring the guilty party before court. These bilingual requirements must of course be evaluated in reference to the demolinguistic composition of the population. As ethnic Russians tend to be unilingual, such requirements are clearly set out in order to increase their knowledge of the majority language.
The preceding examples clearly show that the role of bilingualism can be very different from one language planning project to another.
(6) Need to build consensuses
In order for a language planning project to develop some sort of support in the population, large consensuses must be built. Here are some consensuses which still hold in Québec : the immigrants must be enrolled in French schools; French must be the only language permitted on public commercial signs; and there is a need for state support for French, since this is clearly a minority language in the North American context.
7. Concluding remarks
Preliminary works are currently under way in some circles in order to propose, through Unesco, a Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights. A preliminary version of the aforesaid Declaration was presented in April 1991 at the Colloquium on Plurilingualism in Europe held in Barcelona (amidst a row, as reported in the daily Avui of 7 April 1991). The actual version of the proposed declaration does not take into account many criticisms that have been voiced since this project was initiated in Recife. Judging from the document that this author has been able to get hold of (which is not the Barcelona Manifesto but a previous version adopted in Paris on 25 April 1989), the intended Declaration only mentions individual rights (including the right for an individual to identify himself with any linguistic community and to have this choice respected by the state or to have the freedom to choose among all the languages known by him or her the language which the state will have to use in its communications with him/her). No mention whatsoever is made of collective rights, which is a clear regression from the progress made in some UN organizations on the protection of indigenous minorities. In the case of aboriginal people, such a declaration would favour only the nationwide dominant language and would be tantamount to ethnocide. The Declaration in its actual wording could be detrimental most of all to the indigenous populations and to what has been called in this paper "regional linguistic majorities". The implementation of the provisions of such a Declaration might jeopardize many aspects of the language laws adopted over the last years by Québec, the autonomous regions of Spain and most (formerly) Soviet republics. In its actual form, this project is unacceptable and will only contribute to increase the dominance of the languages already dominant in the world, precisely those languages which are most widely taught as second languages. No wonder that such an initiative of a Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights should have come from the International Federation of Teachers of Living Languages.
Québec City, 11 September 1991
Revised 28 October 1991
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