Message from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the Occasion of World Day of Romani Language
5 November 2018
World Day of Romani Language is an opportunity to promote the preservation and dissemination of the main channel of communication of Roma culture.
The Romani language – Romani čhib – is the official language of Roma people the world over, enriched by a long history of migration and a wide and varied range of influences. It is also, however, a particularly fragile language. Because language is perhaps the primary element constituting a culture, that vulnerability threatens to affect Roma culture itself, thereby endangering a unique heritage that is the repository of a vast amount of knowledge.
This is why UNESCO is calling for further support for the Romani language, part of what constitutes the Roma identity, by strengthening in particular its teaching, especially for children for whom it is the mother tongue. Recognition of the importance of the Romani language must be part of broader efforts to support Romani people, their fundamental rights and social inclusion. UNESCO is working to create conditions conducive to ensuring that the Romani language remains alive, that it is spoken and taught, and to develop a social and political environment that will enable the construction of societies committed to the preservation of multilingualism and respect for minority languages, so that their use is an asset, not a handicap. In so doing, UNESCO aims to contribute to combating discrimination and promote inclusive societies, respectful of their cultural and linguistic diversity.
On this World Day of Romani Language, we celebrate, with all of the Roma people, a culture that contributes to the wealth of humankind. Through it, we are endeavouring to contribute to the protection of all languages and cultures throughout the world.