Language Rights in the Light of International Law

Aneta Skorupa-Wulczyńska



This paper examines language rights in the light of international law instruments. The paper contends that although international law provides for a number of language rights only very few of them can be regarded as universal human rights. First, the paper describes the purpose of language rights protection. Second, it analyses the scope of language rights protection and distinguishes between individual and collective language rights. Third, three basic categories of individual rights addressing language questions are analysed, i.e. procedural linguistic human rights, freedom of expression and nondiscrimination on the grounds of language. Next, language rights of persons belonging to minorities are examined. Finally, the paper concludes that under international law language rights which are universal human rights include linguistic aspects of the right to a fair trial and the right to liberty and security as well as the right of non-discrimination on the grounds of language use in private sphere. The language rights protected otherwise do not fall within the category of human rights and their protection is not universal.


language rights; human rights; individual rights; collective rights; procedural linguistic human rights; non-discrimination on the grounds of language; language rights of minority members

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