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ELEN – CATESCO CONFERENCE: “Protecting Education in Minoritised Languages, Strengthening Language Rights: How to Progress?

June 15

Venue: Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Carrer del Carme, 47, 08001 Barcelona. Catalonia.

Date: Saturday June 15th 2024, 9.30-17.30.

What are the objectives of the conference?

The conference, in partnership with CATESCO, with the collaboration of Omnium Cultural, and with the support of the Catalan Government, has two main objectives. Firstly, to work to further develop awareness on territorial/minoritized language (RML) rights, in particular the role of education and immersion programmes in the normal use of these languages in society, taking as one reference the case of Catalonia. Secondly, to examine what actions NGOs can take to protect RMLs that will have a lasting and substantive effect.

What is the target audience? 

The conference is open to everyone interested in linguistic rights, the role of education in the normalization of the language, and in the defense and promotion of linguistic immersion systems from a legal perspective. It is especially aimed at civil society organisations working in the field of human rights and language rights, educationalists, public administrators, policymakers, and trade unions.

Who will be speaking?

The conference will feature presentations from the UN Special Rapporteur for Minorities, the Council of Europe’s ECRML Committee of Experts and Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for National Minorities, a UNESCO education specialist, legal experts on strategic litigation, academic experts on immersion education, policymakers, and civil society representatives from ELEN. Participants will also be able to contribute to the discussions.

The event will have simultaneous English-Catalan translation and lunch will be provided by the organisers. Below you can find the conference programme and the link to the online registration form.


09.30 | Welcome Remarks

  • Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones, ELEN President
  • Maria Corominas i Piulats, CATESCO Representative
  • Xavier Antich i Valero, President Òmnium Cultural
  • Adam Majó Garriga, Catalan Government, Director-General Human Rights.

Moderator: Davyth Hicks, ELEN Secretary-General.

10.00 | Opening Presentations. Language Rights are Human Rights: International Perspectives on the Rights of Minoritised Language Speakers in Education.

The opening section will discuss language rights within the broader human rights framework, international perspectives on education in minoritised languages, its successes and challenges, and how it has become one of the benchmarks employed for language recovery. Speakers will discuss which international institutional legislation and treaties have been most effective in protecting language rights more generally, and in particular minoritised language immersion education.

  • Prof. Nicolas Levrat, UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues.
  • Dr. Lusine Kharatyan, Member of the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Council of Europe.
  • Prof. Petra Roter, President of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Council of Europe.
  • Ms. Tamara Martí Casado, Associate Project Officer, UNESCO Section of Education for Inclusion and Gender Equality (tbc).
  • Prof. Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones, ELEN President (University of Wales).

Moderated by Dr. Davyth Hicks, ELEN Secretary-General

11.00 | Coffee break

11.30 | Panel I: Local Perspectives on Language Education and Language Rights, Successes and Challenges.

This panel, comprising civil society representatives from ELEN member organizations, will discuss their insights and experiences with minoritised language education models and the guarantee of language rights within different legal and public policy frameworks, and the varying types of challenges they face.

  • (Speaker tbc) Catalan in Catalonia.
  • Ms. Idurre Eskisabel, Basque (Euskalgintzaren Kontseilua).
  • Mr. Gael Roblin, Breton (Kevre Breizh – Diwan).
  • Mr. Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin, Irish (Glór na Móna).
  • Dr. Elsa Quintas Alborés, Galician (A Mesa pola Normalización Lingüística).
  • Ms. Núria Betoret Olives, Catalan in País Valencià (Acció Cultural País Valencià)
  • Dr. Mirjam Vellinga, Frisian (Afûk).
  • Ms. Catalina Bibiloni, Catalan In Illes Balears (Obra Cultural Balear)

Moderated by Prof. Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones, ELEN President.

13.00 | Lunch

14.30 | Panel II: Developing Adequate Protection for Education in Minoritised Languages.

What should the focus be for activists to develop adequate protection for education in minoritised languages? Panellists will make separate presentations which will be followed by discussion.

  • Dr. Janos Fiala, University of Galway.  The European Court of Human Rights, the ECJ and UN on language rights issues. 
  • Dr. Fernand de Varennes, former UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues.  Recent rulings at the European Court of Human Rights, the ECJ, pathways to success.
  • Prof. Eva Pons i Parera, University of Barcelona. How to legally protect education in minoritised languages, with reference to the Catalan model.
  • Dr. Benet Salellas i Vilar, Lawyer. Catalan, Basque and Galician: Rights to education in minoritised languages.

Moderated by Ms Elena Jiménez i Botías, Òmnium Cultural.

16.00 | Coffee Break

16.30 | Panel III: Recommendations: Developing a Roadmap Towards Achieving Better Protection for Minoritised Languages.

Based on the work of the previous panels, what are the conclusions and recommendations that we can draw from them? What are the next steps? The closing discussions will be led by experts who help to implement language policies and, in collaboration with conference participants, will focus on developing a roadmap towards better protection for minoritised languages.

  • Dr. Davyth Hicks, ELEN Secretary-General.
  • Ms. Marina Gay i Faura, CATESCO Director.
  • Prof. F. Xavier Vila i Moreno, acting Secretary for Language Policy, Catalan Government.

Rapporteur: tbc

17.30 | End of the Conference




June 15


Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Carrer del Carme 47, Barcelona
Carrer del Carme 47
Barcelona, Catalonia.,
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