Language Policies, Intercultural Antagonisms and Dialogue
Edited By Kamal Salhi
Stephen Judge - Language as a Human Right: A Legal Problem for France 73
STEPHEN JUDGE Language as a Human Right: A Legal Problem for France An important contemporary issue in terms of language policy is the legal status of regional and minority languages in relation to a country's official language(s). Since the continued existence of these languages is often threatened, it is often argued that linguistic minorities should be protec- ted and their languages promoted on the grounds of cultural diversity. However, the protection of linguistic minorities can also be seen as a threat to national stability in that it can encourage ideas about self- determination. In addition, the recognition and protection of linguistic minorities is sometimes seen as contrary to the principle of the equality of individuals before the law. This chapter is concerned with describing and analysing the history of the protection afforded to linguistic minori- ties internationally and within Europe, and the extent to which they can be said to have the right to claim protection for their language and their right to use it in the private and the public sphere as a legally enforceable human right. This chapter also examines the problems that the French state has with regard to the recognition of linguistic minority rights with specific reference to the Council of Europe's Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which the French signed in May 1999, but which was de- clared incapable of ratification in June 1999 due to its partial incompati- bility with the French Constitution. The Nature of Human Rights While there is widespread...
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