Today is International Mother Language Day. It has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999.
The UN General Assembly welcomed the proclamation of the day in its resolution in 2002 and in 2007 it called upon Member States “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”.
By the same resolution, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages, to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism and named the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to serve as the lead agency for the Year.
This initiative not only increased awareness of language issues, but also mobilized partners and resources for supporting the implementation of strategies and policies in favour of language diversity and multilingualism in all parts of the world. The International Year of Languages came at a time when linguistic diversity was increasingly threatened.
Language is fundamental to communication of all kinds, and it is communication that makes change and development possible in human society. Using or not using certain languages today can open a door, or close it, for large segments of society in many parts of the world.