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UNU System

Globalization 2008

UNU/UNESCO International Conference · 27 & 28 August, 2008


(990 KB PDF)


Speakers’ biographies


Background Paper

The Politics of Linguistic AffinityHans d’Orville, Assistant Director-General for Strategic Planning, UNESCO

(164 KB PDF; EN)

日本語 (Japanese)

As globalization makes the world a smaller place, multilingualism ensures its continued richness and plurality. Language, transmitted through the ages, informs our sense of history, as well as progress. Our successive attempts to modernize and globalize pose a very real challenge to the preservation of language as a bastion of world culture and heritage. Every language that disappears disrupts the transmission of knowledge and deprives us of an opportunity to learn and connect with our past.

We find in language the embodiment of many of the most important values of our modern age: mutual understanding, peace building, respect and diversity. In its simplest form, it allows for our daily subsistence; in its most complex, it defines our role in and between societies.

The world community strives for sustainable development, the alleviation of poverty and world peace. We call upon each other in a multitude of languages to bolster support for the developing world and the courage to face the challenges of our time. And while humans speak with many voices, in our universal quest for a better tomorrow, humanity speaks as one.

The UN University and UNESCO are pleased to invite you to the 2008 international conference on Globalization and Languages: Building on Our Rich Heritage.

About the conference

In May 2007, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages, at the request of the General Conference of UNESCO. In its resolution, Member States of the United Nations recognized “that genuine multilingualism promotes unity in diversity and international understanding.”

UNESCO has been assigned the lead role within the United Nations system as coordinator of the International Year of Languages 2008, which includes facilitating the development of multi-stakeholder partnerships within Member States.

The focus of the UNU/UNESCO 2008 Conference on “Globalization and Languages: Building on our rich heritage” is to explore the contribution of linguistic diversity and multilingualism to development and their value for dialogue, social cohesion and peace.

The conference will begin with a public symposium on the first day, in which eminent personalities will address the policy aspects of the conference theme. The second day will consist of workshops on selected key issues at which recognized experts will present case studies for discussion and policy recommendations.


United Nations University
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization


Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO


Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
of Japan

Japanese National Commission for UNESCO

About the Conference Organizers

UNU · The United Nations University (UNU) is an autonomous organ of the United Nations established by the General Assembly. In its 30-plus years of operation, the university has grown to encompass UNU Centre in Tokyo, a global network of research and training centres and programmes, liaison offices at UN Headquarters and UNESCO Headquarters, and 21 UNU associated institutions.

The UNU operates as an international community of scholars with the mission of contributing to efforts to resolve the pressing problems that are a concern of the United Nations, its peoples and member states. UNU research, capacity development, and dissemination activities are focused within five thematic areas: peace and security; good governance; economic and social development; environment and sustainability; and science, technology, and society.

UNESCO · The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations system. According to its constitution, the Organization’s main objective is to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the world’s nations through education, the sciences, culture, and communication and information in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion. UNESCO pursues its action through five programme sectors: education; natural sciences; social and human sciences; culture; and communication and information. The Organization is headquartered in Paris, with over 50 field offices and several specialized institutes and centres throughout the world. Founded in 1946, UNESCO currently has 193 Member States and six Associate Members. The Director-General is Koïchiro Matsuura (Japan). More information is available at

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Page last modified 2019.04.16.

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