The international, trilingual (English, French and Irish) conference in NUI Galway, organised by Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge and the Irish Centre for Human Rights, called for the protection of language diversity around the world at its plenary session on 16 June in Galway. The 'Galway Declaration' was passed unanimously by the attendees.
Delegates from over 20 countries supported the call to UNESCO to protect the world's linguistic diversity. Dr Joseph Turi, Secretary General of IALL/IADL (International Academy of Linguistic Law/Académie Internationale de Droit linguistique) proposed the call.
Seosamh Mac Donnacha, Academic Coordinator of Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge said, "This is a very important step. Once UNESCO calls for the protection of linguistic diversity, the countries of the world will have to focus on supporting languages and their speakers within their borders. Linguistic diversity ensures cultural diversity."
Dr Conchúr Ó Giollagáin of Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge said, "This is now an international crisis. Up to 90% of the world's languages are in danger of dying out in less than one hundred years. Now is the time to act."
The theme of the conference was 'Language Law and Language Rights: The Challenges of Enactment and Implementation', and was supported by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
Keynote speakers included:
- Séan Ó Cuirreáin, an Coimisinéir Teanga/The Language Commissioner
- Philip Blair, Director, Directorate of Cooperation for Local and Regional Democracy, Council of Europe
- Dzenana Hadziomerovic, Legal Advisor to the High Commissioner for National Minorities
- Fernand de Varennes, Australian expert on linguistics