ERA and the United Nations

Towards a Declaration on the Right to International Auxiliary Language

Sala del Consiglio dei Diritti Umani a Ginevra

Disponibile anche in: Italian

United Nations

A/HRC/44/NGO/X

General Assembly Distr.: General

XX June 2020

English only

Human Rights Council – Forty-fouth session

June–July 2020 (TBC) Agenda item 2

Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General

Written statement* submitted by Asocio Esperanto Radikala, a non-governmental organization in special consultative status
The Secretary-General has received the following written statement which is circulated in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.

[04 June 2020]

Towards a Declaration on the Right to International Auxiliary Language

To achieve the greatest profits, some nations put in place the economic and commercial exploitation of human beings (Transatlantic Slave Trade) and/or the occupation of territories belonging to other peoples and their enslavement (Colonialism). From the nations that have most “influenced” other countries, peoples and persons to gain wealth and favours, are some English and American scholars who give us figures:

  • Stuart Laycock in All the Countries We’ve Ever Invaded: “Out of 193 countries that are currently UN member states, Britons have invaded or fought conflicts in the territory of 171”, almost 89% of the countries of the world;
  • Christopher Kelly in All the Countries the Americans Have Ever Invaded, “The United States, since their formation, have invaded, fought conflicts or exercised control in 190 out of 193 UN member states, “nearly 99% of the countries on the planet.

In the last 90 years, however, colonialism and forms of enslavement have become more sophisticated and aggressive arriving to prefigure a new form of genocide, the linguistic-cultural one, and a new form of slavery: that of the minds that does not discriminate on race, religion or sex but on language.

The same nations protagonists of what historians Laycock and Kelly denounced, understood that, with much less risk and fewer resources, it was possible to obtain much better prizes through the linguistic and cultural domination of other peoples. It is above all the United States, rather than Great Britain, that stimulate and structure, to their own advantage, the neoliberal and financial globalization, relying not only on material factors such as military and scientific capabilities, production of goods and services, Internet dominance, control of energy and monetary flows… but propagandizing as “internationalization” what is actually a process of assimilation.

This new way of conceiving colonization consists in the construction of the new Empires of the Mind as Churchill defined them –dialoguing with Roosevelt – on September 6th, 1943 explaining at Harvard: «The power to control language offers far better prizes than taking away people’s provinces or lands or grinding them down in exploitation. The empires of the future are the Empires of the Mind»

The English language thus places itself at the centre of a global system, where it plays a role similar, but far more harmful, to that of the dollar in the international monetary system: as the dollar, with its dual status as means of payment and international reserve currency, enables USA to live thanks to the enormous contribution from the rest of the planet, holding the international linguistic monopoly confers them another formidably advantageous position and is a discrimination for all non-English speaking peoples because:

  1. citizens of English-speaking countries are granted a significant market in terms of pedagogical material, language courses, translation and interpretation into English, linguistic competence in drafting and revising texts, etc.
  2. English native speakers never have to invest time and/or money in translating the messages they convey or wish to understand;
  3. English native speakers do not have a real need to learn languages. This translates, for English-speaking countries, into huge savings, starting with education costs. This revenue afforded annually to the United Kingdom is estimated at around 18 billion Euros (Françoise Grin).
  4. By contrast, non-English-speaking countries have to invest increasingly in economic and human resources to learn English. In the EU alone, costs of linguistic discrimination for the 445 million non-native English European citizens are estimated, approximated by defect, at 487,408,500,000.00 Euros yearly (Áron Lukács) while they remain, always and anyway, eternal second to born Anglophones. Considering that the world population is 7 billion people, of which 380 million are native Anglophones, if the remaining 7,320,000,000 people had a degree of development/well-being equal to those of the European citizens, the estimated annual figure for learning English would be 8,015,400,000,000.00 Euros!
  5. All money and time resources not dedicated to learning foreign languages can be invested in development, research and teaching/learning other disciplines. For example, the United States, with the $16 billion saved on foreign language teaching, in 2004 funded 1/3 of their public research;
  6. even if non-English speakers make a considerable effort to learn English, they never succeed, with exceptions, in reaching such a degree of language mastery that can guarantee them equality with native speakers:
    – equality in understanding,
    – equality when speaking in public debates,
    – equality in negotiations and conflicts.
  7. Discrimination in hiring between born English-speaking citizens and others: there are countless classified advertisements in non-English-speaking countries where only mother-tongue English (English native speakers) are offered jobs, with the consequence that some citizens, despite an excellent knowledge of English and perhaps higher professional skills, are discriminated against and not hired;
  8. anyway, whether we like it or not, it is the mother-tongue Anglophones who hold the legitimate monopoly of linguistic correction, just as the state holds the legitimate monopoly of force, only they have the right to establish what is correct or incorrect in the their language.
  9. There is also a further discriminatory phenomenon within non-Anglophone countries deriving from social class belonging and from the family’s economic capacity: in non-English-speaking countries, more and more families send their children directly to recognized Anglo-American schools in their own country and, subsequently, directly to American or English schools and universities.
  10. Discrimination of linguistically-disabled people: these are all those people who have difficulties learning foreign languages and, in particular, English which, for example, is especially difficult due to thousands of exceptions; to learn it, one actually needs to learn two languages, one written and one spoken, which complicates life, particularly for those children who have dyslexia issues.

We must therefore carry out an epoch-making cultural paradigm change, carry forward, all together, an innovative goal for freedom, democracy and human rights in the world, conduct a nonviolent battle of fundamental and concrete importance for sustainable development, peace, cultural biodiversity on the planet: the battle for the humanity’s right to the International Auxiliary Language.

All animal species have a common language, perhaps even plants… not the human species. Although it has neither wings, nor gills, nor particularly strong legs, today men travel in space, descend into the sea depths, run on Earth faster than any other living being but do not have a common language as a human species. Not having it, forces each people to linguistically suffer the law of the “strongest” who also wants to set itself up as the “justest”, thus implementing a colonialism of the minds that produces discrimination and devastating psychological, socio-economic, political and cultural effects.

To achieve peace, brotherhood, cultural biodiversity and well-being for humanity, the United Nations’ progenitor organization, the League of Nations saw the delegates of Brazil, Belgium, Chile, China, Colombia, Czechoslovakia (present Slovakia and Czech Republic), Haiti, Italy, Japan, India, Persia (present Iran), Poland, Romania and South Africa at work during the first two General Assemblies to carry forward resolutions suggesting the League of Nations to universally recommend teaching Esperanto in schools as International Auxiliary Language. The majority of member nations favoured the adoption of the International language (called Esperanto) as a working language. However, France’s veto (French was the language of diplomacy in those years) prevented the implementation of this project. Anyway, in 1922 the League of Nations unanimously approved, during its third General Assembly, the Report on Esperanto as International Auxiliary Language, also with the convinced support of Lord Robert Cecil, Nobel Prize for Peace in 1937.

A great world-renowned scholar, Umberto Eco, defined Esperanto “a linguistic masterpiece” and in The Search for the Perfect Language (1993) to Esperanto, International Auxiliary Language, devoted a lot of space, examining the “Theoretical Objections and Counter-objections“ and the real “Political’ Possibilities of an IAL“. From the same period, is a detailed and positive study by the Italian Ministry of Education. The United States themselves have used it for almost 20 years in their military exercises.

If, already since 1922, the International Language (called Esperanto) was considered ready to be adopted in the world as “International Auxiliary Language”, today it is more than ever: it has further 133 years of international linguistic experimentation; it is recognized by the PEN Club International as the world’s 114th literary language (1993); from 1994 to 2012 it was one of the 60 languages in which the Pontiff gave his “Urbi et Orbi” blessing to Catholics all over the world twice a year; it is Google’s 64th translation language; it is the language of Nobel Laureates for Economics such as the German Reinhard Selten; it is the language of a transnational community present in over 120 countries around the world.

We urgently need to resume the journey of those “Countries of Hope” in 1922. The humanity’s common language, the second, auxiliary language of and for all, is a transversal objective, which today is a priority for each and everyone, including the English mother-tongue, if they do not want to go down in history as those who caused the extinction of every linguistic and cultural diversity of the planet.

                     *   Issued as received, in the language(s) of submission only.

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