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rance fails to implement UN recommendations on 'regional' languages Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 May 2007
EBLUL France are at the UN in Geneva this week calling for the implementation of its 2001 Report on ‘regional’ language rights in France to the UN’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Six years later and France has failed to implement any of the Report, despite UN recommendations to do so.

In November 2001,  EBLUL and the NGO “Pour Que Vivent Nos Langues” (Promoting our Languages) submitted a short report.  The UN Committee made observations which among others asked France to; acknowledge minority groups and their right to exist; ratify the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) and Charter on Regional or Minority languages (ECRML); step up its efforts to preserve regional and minority languages and cultures; and to take steps to improve the teaching of these languages.

It also asked the French state to circulate these observations widely at all levels of state and to involve non-governmental organisations in the preparation of its third periodic report.

Writing in response, and in a new Report, EBLUL-France President Tangi Louarn said:  “At present, six years later, it is clear that very few of these observations have been applied: the state has not issued any information about its services concerning the Committee’s observations; the state has not ratified the ECRML and is one of the three last states (out of 47) within the Council of Europe with Turkey and the Principality of Andorra (whose co-prince is French head of state) not to have signed the FCNM.

“The state still does not recognise any minority group or people on its territory. The dogma of the ‘unity’ of the French people (as the constitutional court says) still prevails, and with a restrictive interpretation.

“The use of these languages is ostracised in particular in education and the media in increasingly virulent forms, and contrary to the demands by the populations involved which intensify as they face the increasing risk of the complete disappearance of their languages and cultures.

“To summarise, the treatment of our 2001 report reflects the disregard shown by the French state both for the populations concerned and international organisations such as the UN.  In addition, this can be supported with specific examples of discrimination and the negation of rights suffered by the populations concerned (annexed to our report), and the keenness with which the state opposes any action which these populations and their elected representatives attempt to take in order to defend their languages and cultures and to guarantee their survival and development.”

The Basque organisation Behatokia has also submitted a report to the Committee.  Underlining the effects of French state policy against ‘regional’ languages it notes that Basque has lost 15,000 speakers over the last ten years, added to both a decline in Basque-French bilinguals and bilingualism generally.

The visit to the UN comes at the same time as the UN’s announcement that 2008 will be the Year of Languages. (Davyth Hicks, Eurolang 2007)

 

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