Agreement between Iceland and UNESCO for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding


On 27 June 2013, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, signed an agreement to strengthen the Organization’s actions in the field of the preservation of languages and linguistic diversity around the world, through the support of a Centre established in Reykjavik under UNESCO auspices.

The ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters took place in presence of Ms Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, former President of the Republic of Iceland and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, and Iceland’s Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Ambassador Berglind Asgeirsdottir.

“The Centre is inspired by a single idea – that language is a core part of the identity and cultural heritage of humanity,” said the Director-General adding that “multilingualism is essential for intercultural understanding and it is vital for dialogue based on respect”.

“Languages enshrine our experiences,” declared former President of Iceland, Mrs. Vigdis Finnbogadottir. “All human thought is created through languages and our Centre will serve as a research institution, collecting information on all the languages in the world, because every language is important.” She underscored also that “some languages are becoming more endangered than ever before -- we need pass this message to young people.”

The Ambassador of Iceland, H. E. Mrs Berglind Asgeirsdóttir said that Mrs. Vigdis Finnbogadottir is “a true role model for the young generation in Iceland having left office as President 17 years ago. Thanks to her contribution to our country, Iceland’s cultural image has been strengthened enormously”.

Hosted by the Institute of Foreign Languages at the University of Iceland, in Reykjavik, the Centre will enjoy large programmatic autonomy for the implementation of its international activities. Its action will focus on the acknowledgment of languages as a fundamental element of the cultural heritage of humanity.

The Center will function as a clearing house in the fields of multilingualism for decision-makers, experts and the public at large, contribute to the worldwide monitoring of the implementation of language policies, promote research and education in foreign language studies and cultures and promote translation and translation studies.


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