language justice

Youth for Linguistic Rights: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the way to recovery

World Esperanto Youth Organization (TEJO) with Universal Esperanto Association / Universala Esperanto-Asocio (UEA)


This side event hosted by the World Esperanto Youth Organization (TEJO) will focus on the topic of linguistic rights: the fundamental right of every individual to choose the language or languages for communication in the private or public sphere. More than one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, international institutions and organizations have observed and reported on the lack of respect and several violations of fundamental human rights. Linguistic rights are not an exception; in fact, they have been negatively affected by the rapid transition of the majority of professional, educational, personal, and social activities to an online environment. During the COVID-19 crisis, researchers are highlighting the need for public health officials to provide information in a range of languages and especially to provide public health information for indigenous people all over the world. What is the role of young people in this regard, especially in post-recovery societies?

Our objectives with this side event are to: Raise awareness of the importance of linguistic rights and especially how they have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; Highlight the relation of linguistic rights with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDGs 3, 4, 10, 16 and 17; Raise awareness on language discrimination: how speakers of minority languages are excluded and how decision-makers can intentionally include them; Explore the role of young people in this regard, especially in the post-recovery societies; Allow people from diverse backgrounds to exchange views and experiences between themselves; Connect linguistic minorities and use this side event as a networking opportunity.

The side event organised by TEJO and UEA on 6th April this year as part of ECOSOC Youth Forum (Linguistic Rights and Young People: Challenges and Opportunities) received positive appraisals by the attendees. Therefore, we would like to continue along this path and raise awareness on language policy.

CoNGO Notes: The Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations is currently constituting an NGO Committee on Language and Languages. Join and be a constituting member from anywhere in the world. For more information, see: proposed NGO Committee on Language and Languages.

Language and Migration: Experience and Memory

Language is a vital, but under-explored, factor in the lives of migrants, immigrants and refugees. It has a direct impact on the experiences and choices of individuals displaced by war, terror, or natural disasters and the decisions made by agents who provide (or fail to provide) relief, services, and status. Distilled through memory, it shapes the fictions, poems, memoirs, films and song lyrics in which migrants render loss and displacement, integration and discovery, the translation of history and culture, and the trials of identity.

This interdisciplinary symposium will convene humanists and social scientists, field-workers and policy-makers, artists and writers, to think together about migrants as resourceful users, interpreters, and creators of language.

The symposium will take place online between Monday, April 19 and Saturday May 1, 2021. Amid the disappointment of not being able to hold the symposium in person, we’ve managed to find two advantages to the virtual format: to enable participation by those without the means or time to attend, and to achieve a more satisfying exchange among humanists, social scientists, and people who work in the fields of education, language policy and language justice. We encourage you to attend as many sessions of the symposium as you can, which are spread out over two weeks to avoid zoom fatigue.

Special events: Our symposium will feature two keynote speakers: Prof. Sarah Dryden-Peterson of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who will open our symposium with a lecture on Monday April 19; and ProfViet Thanh Nguyen, Aerol Arnold Professor of English, University of Southern California, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Sympathizer, who will give the closing lecture on Saturday May 1. On Friday evening, April 30, we are delighted to host a reading by Jhumpa LahiriYiyun Li and Aleksandar Hemon, three distinguished members of Princeton’s Creative Writing faculty.

Access the full detailed program here:

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CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on Migration, please visit For more information on the NGO Committee on Education, Learning, and Literacy, please visit