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Council of Europe Charter

Council of Europe Charter for Regional and Minority Languages

The Charter was adopted in 1992 by the Council of Europe to help protect regional or minority languages and encourage their use in education and in the media, in legal and administrative contexts, in economic and social life, in cultural activities and in transfrontier exchanges.  The UK Government ratified the Charter in 2001 in respect of Welsh in Wales, Scots and Gaelic in Scotland and Ulster-Scots and Irish in Northern Ireland.  Manx Gaelic and Cornish were subsequently added. Eight general principles of the Charter, designed to provide a supportive environment for minority language development, were ratified in respect of Gaelic and Scots.

The following undertakings apply to Scots: 

  • Recognition of regional or minority languages as an expression of cultural wealth.
  • Respect for the geographical area of each regional or minority language.
  • The need for resolute action to promote such languages.
  • The facilitation and/or encouragement of the use of such languages, in speech and writing, in public and private life.
  • The provision of appropriate forms and means for the teaching and study of such languages at all appropriate stages.
  • The promotion of relevant transnational exchanges.
  • The prohibition of all forms of unjustified distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference relating to the use of a regional or minority language and intended to discourage or endanger its maintenance or development.
  • The promotion by states of mutual understanding between all the country’s linguistic groups.

Information on the Charter can be found at http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/education/minlang/default_en.asp