International Expert Meeting on Improving Access to Multilingual Cyberspace
On October 28-29, 2014 an International Expert Meeting on Improving Access to Multilingual Cyberspace was held at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris within the framework of the Days of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra (Russian Federation) at UNESCO.
The meeting was initiated by Russia, which led the Working Group on Multilingualism in Cyberspace of the UNESCO Intergovernmental “Information for All” Programme (IFAP) in 2012 (Russia chaired IFAP from April 2010 to May 2014).
The event was organized by the Russian UNESCO IFAP Committee and its working body, the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre, in cooperation with UNESCO Communication and Information Sector, the Permanent Delegation of the Russian Federation to UNESCO and the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO. Financial support was provided by the Government of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra.
The meeting brought together world leading experts from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Grenada, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Mali, Mexico, the Netherlands, Oman, Peru, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the USA, and other countries.
The event attracted attention of representatives of many foreign diplomatic missions accredited to UNESCO, who attended it as observers.
The meeting was a follow-up of Russia’s continued efforts to support multilingualism in cyberspace and was largely based on the results of the Third International Conference on Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Cyberspace held in the summer of 2014 in Yakutsk where 48 countries were presented. The measures to implement the recommendations of the fundamental document worked out at this conference – the Yakutsk Declaration on Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Cyberspace –were among the key topics of the expert meeting in Paris.
At the opening session participants were greeted by the UNESCO Deputy Director-General Eric Falt, Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO Eleonora Mitrofanova, Deputy Governor of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra Fanuza Arslanova, Chair of the IFAP Intergovernmental Council Chafica Haddad.
A keynote speech at the first plenary meeting was made by the Chairman of the Russian UNESCO IFAP Committee, Vice-Chairman of the IFAP Intergovernmental Council, Chairman of the IFAP Working Group on Multilingualism in Cyberspace Evgeny Kuzmin. He analyzed the international state of-the-art in the field of multilingualism promotion and put forward a number of proposals that received support by the majority of participants.
The meeting showed that language preservation and development in cyberspace is an issue topical to all countries without exception. For the first time ever at the international level discussions focused not only on smaller endangered languages, but also on major African languages that cannot boast of proper status, as well as official UN languages, which are rapidly losing ground in the world giving way to the domination of English. Participants to the meeting also noted that languages should be regarded not only as cultural heritage, but as a source of enormous opportunities for cultural, political and economic influence. All major developed countries of the world do a lot for languages of developing countries, particularly in the sphere of national and local content presentation in cyberspace.
The Institute of the Portuguese language is working actively within the framework of the Commonwealth of Portuguese-speaking countries under the auspices of Brazil. The Ministry of Information and Communication of Egypt has started large-scale activities in this area for the benefit of other Arab countries. Following the initiative of the Government of Iceland, the International Centre for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding was established in the country in 2013.
Much attention was paid to the issues of upscaling the existing digital UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger to UNESCO’s Atlas of World’s Languages and its further use as a monitoring tool and a powerful information and educational resource. Implementing this project will require multilateral funding varying from 60 thousand a year (minimum level) up to several million dollars (optimum level).
Brazil plans to create its own Atlas of indigenous languages of all the 17 Portuguese-speaking countries, which means 360 languages. Similar initiative is launched in the Arab region by Egypt. The African Union has also planned to create such a resource.
Many participants to the expert meeting from Brazil, Spain, France and other countries, in particular Adama Samassékou, Chair of the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on the Information Society noted Russia’s leading role in establishing international cooperation in the field of multilingualism preservation and development, and mentioned the need for holding a world summit on multilingualism. Many experts share the opinion that Russia could initiate the preparation of such a summit within UNESCO and the UN and eventually host it.
The meeting showed once again that Russia’s active efforts to support multilingualism within the country and worldwide are appreciated and respected by most of the world leading experts.
An exhibition of publications on language preservation and linguistic diversity development in cyberspace by the Russian UNESCO IFAP Committee and the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre was opened.
At the meeting closing the Ugra Government invited international experts to take part in the annual Khanty-Mansiysk international IT forum in 2015 and announced the intention to organize a round table on multilingualism in cyberspace within the forum.
Expert Meeting Opening Session. Presidium
Participants of the Expert Meeting
Fanuza Arslanova, Deputy Governor of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra
Evgeny Kuzmin,Vice - Chair of the Intergovernmental Council and Chair of the Russian Committee for the UNESCO Information for All Programme; President of the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre (left) and Mohamed Sameh Amr, Chairman of the UNESCO Executive Board
Eric Falt, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for External Relations and Public Information
Eleonora Mitrofanova, Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO
Indrajit Banerjee, Director of Knowledge Society Division (UNESCO)
Lyubov Koveshnikova, Director of the Department for Education and Youth Policy of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra (Russia)
Boyan Radoykov, Chief of the UNESCO Section for Universal Access and Preservation
Evgeny Kuzmin (left) and Chafica Haddad, Chair, Intergovernmental Council of the UNESCO Information for All Programme; Deputy Permanent Delegate, Permanent Delegation of Grenada to UNESCO
Sergey Bakeykin, Executive Director, Interregional Library Cooperation Centre; Deputy Chair, Russian Committee of the UNESCO Information for All Programme (left) and Adama Samassekou, President of the MAAYA World Network for Linguistic Diversity (Mali)
Sergey Kosenok, Rector of Surgut State University (Russia) – left and Nicholas Ostler, Chairman of the Foundation of Endangered Languages (Unted Kingdom)
Irmgarda Kasinskaite-Buddeberg, Programme specialist of the Communication and Information Sector (UNESCO)
Nikolay Khaustov, Second Secretary of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation – left and Tatiana Murovana, Deputy Head of the Department of Scientific Cooperation, Youth and Communication Programmes, Rossotrudnichestvo (Russia)
Christopher Moseley, General Editor of the third edition of the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s languages in Danger (United Kingdom)
Alfredo Ronchi, Secretary General, European Commission - MEDICI Framework of Cooperation; Professor, Polytechnic University of Milan (Italy)
Nedezhda Zaikova, Vice-rector, North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk (Russia)
Nevine Twefik, Head of the Research, Studies and Policies Bureau, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of Egypt (left) and Tjeerd De Graaf, Senior Research Fellow, Fryske Akademy (Netherlands)
Marcel Diki-Kidiri, Former Senior Researcher, French National Center for Scientific Research (Central African Republic)
Martin Benjamin, Senior Scientist, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne
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