Esperanto for Sustainable and Harmonious Development

The speakers of the international planned language Esperanto regard the present international language order - in other words the way in which o­nly certain languages are currently used in relations between people of different nationalities - as unsatisfactory and incompatible with the need to further mutual understanding, peace and equal rights among all people.

They are also very critical of the policy pursued at present in nearly every country in the world with regard to the teaching of foreign languages, which does nothing to further international understanding but simply serves the aim of assimilating everything that comes from the most powerful countries.

The speakers of the international language Esperanto consider that all languages and all cultures carry with them values that must not be lost to mankind.  They further believe that linguistic human rights must be respected at all levels. Everyone is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights against discrimination based, among other things, o­n language. No national or international authority is entitled to disregard that right in the name of efficiency or of other considerations.

We, the World Esperanto Association, recognise that UNESCO and the United Nations have produced many documents in this field. The most recent, for example, the “Human Development Report 2004″, deserves our full support and also refers to the three-language principle advocated by UNESCO:

-mother tongue (however small)
-local contact language (generally the national language)
-international language.

In this connection we maintain that the optimum language to act as an international language is the international planned language Esperanto. The use of a national language, whichever it might be, is unjust, causes human suffering, leads to extra costs for societies that need to learn that language and in the long run results in the loss of languages and cultures.

The Human Development Report quotes figures that clearly show the positive effect of mother-tongue teaching (even where there are large numbers of languages) compared with teaching the former colonial languages.

We maintain that the same goes for teaching dominating languages instead of the neutral international language Esperanto.

We maintain that the teaching of Esperanto as a foreign language has benefits compared with the teaching of, for example, English (greater ease of learning, so that learning objectives can be achieved in a fraction of the time, more cost-effective teaching using local teachers and materials).

We believe that switching from, for example, English to Esperanto in the teaching of foreign languages around the world would lead to such enormous savings that sufficient funds could be released to overcome some of the problems of disease, malnutrition and inadequate education systems which currently suffer from a lack of resources.

We call o­n all people desiring development and peace to support the experiments to be carried out under scientific supervision in a number of countries o­n the ease of learning Esperanto and the results achieved compared with learning other foreign languages

For more than a century Esperanto, which was launched in 1887 as a project for an auxiliary language for international communication and quickly developed into a rich living language in its own right, has functioned as a means of bringing people together across the barriers of language and culture. The aims that inspire the users of Esperanto are still as important and relevant as ever. Neither the worldwide use of a few national languages, nor advances in communications technology, nor the development of new methods of language teaching is likely to result in a fair and effective language order based o­n the following principles, which we hold to be essential.

1. Democracy. Any system of communication which confers lifelong privileges o­n some while requiring others to devote years of effort to achieving a lesser degree of competence is fundamentally antidemocratic. While Esperanto, like any language, is not perfect, it far outstrips other languages as a means of egalitarian communication o­n a world scale.

2. Global education. All ethnic languages are bound to certain cultures and nations. For example, the child who learns English learns about the culture, geography and political systems of the English-speaking world, primarily the United States and the United Kingdom. The child who learns Esperanto learns about a world without borders, where every country is home.

3. Effective education. o­nly a small percentage of foreign-language students attain fluency in the target language.In Esperanto, fluency is attainable even through home study. Various studies have shown that Esperanto is useful as a preparation for learning other languages. It has also been recommended as a core element in courses in language awareness.

4. Multilingualism. The Esperanto community is almost unique as a worldwide community whose members are universally bilingual or multilingual. Every member of the community has made the effort to learn at least o­ne foreign language to a communicative level. In many cases this leads to a love and knowledge of several languages and to broader personal horizons in general.

5. Language rights. The unequal distribution of power between languages is a recipe for permanent language insecurity, or outright language oppression, for a large part of the world’s population. In the Esperanto community the speakers of languages large and small, official and unofficial meet o­n equal terms through a mutual willingness to compromise. This balance of language rights and responsibilities provides a benchmark for developing and judging other solutions to language inequality and conflict.

6. Language diversity. National governments tend to treat the great diversity of languages in the world as a barrier to communication and development. In the Esperanto community, however, language diversity is experienced as a constant and indispensable source of enrichment. Consequently every language, like every biological species, is inherently valuable and worthy of protection and support.

7. Human emancipation. Every language both liberates and imprisons its users, giving them the ability to communicate among themselves but barring them from communication with others. Designed as a universally accessible means of communication, Esperanto is o­ne of the great functional projects for the emancipation of humankind - o­ne which aims to let every individual citizen participate fully in the human community, securely rooted in his or her local cultural and language identity yet not limited by it.
June 26, 2005
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