• World Harmony Run

    World's Largest Torch Relay
    World Harmony Run

  • 1,000,000 Participants

    Across 6 Continents
    1,000,000 Participants

  • Dreaming of a more harmonious world

    100 countries
    Dreaming of Harmony

  • Schools And Kids

    Make a Wish for Peace
    Schools And Kids

  • Sri Chinmoy: World Harmony Run Founder

    World Harmony Run Founder
    Sri Chinmoy

  • Carl Lewis: World Harmony Run Spokesman

    World Harmony Run Spokesman
    Carl Lewis

  • New York, USA

    New York

  • London, Great Britain

    Great Britain

  • Shakhovskaya, Russia


  • Around Australia

    15,000 kms, 100 days
    Around Australia

  • Around Ireland

    14 Days, 1500km
    Around Ireland

  • Wanaka, New Zealand

    New Zealand

  • Arjang, Norway


  • Rekjavik, Iceland


  • Beijing, China


  • Prague, Czech Republic

    Czech Republic

  • Belgrade, Serbia


  • Lake Biwa, Japan

    Lake Biwa

  • Kapsait, Ethiopia


  • Pangkor Island, Malaysia

    Pangkor Island

  • Bali, Indonesia


  • The All Blacks, New Zealand

    The All Blacks
    New Zealand

C. Excerpt from Mother Language Day programme 2011 in Spain

Excerpt of address by the President of the UNESCO General Conference, Dr. Davidson L. Hepburn,

on the 0ccasion of International Mother Language Day, Barcelona, 21 February 2010.

Draft English excerpt of address delivered in Spanish.

Main Contents:
A. The importance of language
B. Language and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Strategies
C. Mother Language Day - History, Concerns, Opportunities and Benefits
D. Language Preservation and Information Technology and Communication (ICT)
E. (Language) Similarities found in Bahamas and Caribbean
F. Possible SIDS Conference September 2011
G. Personal Perspective on Spanish Language and Culture (philosophy, poetry, art, etc.)
H. Challenges: Technology Deployment - Languages Supporters Diverse Goals
I. United Nations and UNESCO role

For video of excerpts of message delived in Spanish at UNESCOCAT see:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHCJbRsBu9Y

A. Importance of Language

It is no exaggeration to say that language is more than a tool - it is an essential dimension of the human life. We exist in and through language. The use of languages is not solely a technical matter, but rather a prerequisite for thought, action or anything we do alone or together with other people.

For these reasons languages are not simply an interesting subject for specialists, but they constitute a highly interdisciplinary domain that is strategic in regard to the most essential challenges facing mankind. In this regard, let me suggest some specific characteristics of languages.

• It is an essential factor for the actual enjoyment of fundamental rights, i.e. (expression, education, participation in cultural life )

• It is clear that none of these rights could be enjoyed effectively by those who are linguistically deprived

B. Language and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Strategies

In a more general sense languages serve as the vehicle that must be taken into account in the development of strategies to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Let me cite references to four of the seven mdgs that are affected through linguistic skills:

• The eradication of extreme poverty and hunger

• Essential to achieving universal primary education

• Response to hiv and aids, malaria and other diseases

• Most basic is that education and literacy programmes must be delivered in languages understood by the learners

• Languages are also strategic for environmental sustainability
To conclude this point I quote a slogan launched in 2008 "language matters" because it is through languages that we can build the world of tomorrow.

C. Mother Language Day - History, Concerns, Opportunities and Benefits

The celebration of mother language day, based on its history and recent concerns, offers opportunities and potential benefits. The general conference of UNESCO decided in 1999 to follow the proposal of Bangladesh to claim February 21 as paramount in creating International Mother Language Day. Since that time the interest for languages and multilingualism has grown worldwide, this recognition resulted in a proclamation by the united nations general assembly in declaring 2008 as the international year of languages.

Yet, sadly today, it is somewhat scary to hear specialists say that despite these achievements languages are dying out at an unprecedented speed. For example, half of the over 6000 languages spoken in the world today may disappear in the foreseeable future.

Needless to say it is urgent for the international bodies to act speedily and international mother language day offers the best opportunity to launch new ideas and prospects.

• Some of the beneficial actions would be: language preservation, multilingualism and linguistic diversity.

• Further actions can be taken in cross-cutting awareness-raising initiatives, education programmes, endangered language preservation, cultural exchange and translation, languages as science as well as languages and communication technologies are also sound initiatives.

D. Languages and Information Technology and Communication (ICT)

The theme chosen by UNESCO for this twelfth edition of the day is the role of information technology and communication (ICTt) in the development, preservation and promotion of languages and linguistic diversity.

• Over the last 20 years or so, the presence of a language on the internet, for example, reinforces its (languages) position and better prevents endangered risks. This is one reason why UNESCO promotes linguistic diversity and access for all languages and writing systems on the internet.

•  On the other hand icts play a key role in the establishment of data collection, monitoring analysis and language teaching. This is proven, for instance, by success of initiatives such as the interactive online version of the atlas of endangered languages of UNESCO.

E. (Language) Similarities found in Bahamas and Caribbean

Permit me to draw on some similarities that are found in my area of the Caribbean.

I come from the Bahamas, a group of some 26 islands, which with additional rocks and cays form an archipelago. The Bahamas got its name from the Spanish word "baja mar" when the Spaniards came and found it difficult to traverse the shallow waters of the Atlantic ocean surrounding the islands.

• Our nearest neighbours are the United States, Cuba and Haiti. Of course there are certain influences on our language.
o For example, the Bahamas is home to some 30,000 Haitian immigrants and creole is a part of the language... It is easy for any trained Bahamian to determine the origin of individuals through their speech and surnames.
o Many enthusiasts tried to develop a Bahamian language or dialect, but the efforts failed to catch the imagination of the people.

• The English language which we speak was acquired from the British who governed the islands for more than 300 years. Even after that period there was one island that tried to secede , but the government was able to quell that uprising. And independence was achieved smoothly on July 10, 1973.. Many Caribbean nationals left their own countries after independence to live in Great Britain, but are now finding that the "grass was not greener on the other side."

Other Background on the Bahamas

• We live in a multicultural society of many races and religions, but the majority of the people are of African descent.

• The Bahamas is a maritime area with large ship registrations and an abundance of fish, conch, and lobsters.

• We have indigenous foods like grits, cassava, plantain and peas and rice. I still have a fondness for paella, calamar and merluza, nevertheless.

• The Bahamas derives its income mostly from tourism finance, off-shore banking and the hospitality industry.

• We have a population of some 360,000 inhabitants and most of them live in Nassau, the capital of new providence.

• We have a stable democratic government that functions under a two-party system.

F. Possible SIDS Conference September 2011

I hasten to add that UNESCO is desirous of holding a high level conference on education and climate change in September (2011) for small island developing states (SIDS) from the pacific, the Indian ocean and the Caribbean. Our country is ripe for multicultural diversity and look forward to opportunities that generate diversity in cultural dialogue.

G. Personal Perspective on Spanish Language Culture (philosophy, poetry, art, etc.)

I left the Bahamas many years ago to study the works of Miguel de Unamuno, a Basque who loved his country, he left a profound impression upon me through his existential philosophy, his poems and his indomitable spirit. He , in my view, is one of the unsung heroes of the generation of 1898 along with Antonio Machado, Pio Baroja and Ramon Valle Inclan. They made a significant contribution to the growth and development of the Spanish language and culture.

Nearer to home we cannot forget Antonio Gaudi, whose works have already been included in UNESCO's world heritage site. Then there is Salvador Dali, a consummate artist, and Garcia Lorca, a playwright of renown.

Based on other accomplishments like el Mercado la Boqueria and the Joan Miro Foundation, Cataluna must be considered a land of culture. I am looking forward to sampling some of this rich culture of art, cuisine and monuments of this historic land..

I am happy to be here, I admire the Spanish people for their ingenuity , their openness and willingness to embrace others. I often say to people who ask me about my love of spanish that yo soy castizo, tomando el pelo, por supuesto. I realize that such a statement sounds presumptuous, but I studied in Madrid at a time when life was not so easy. Because of the struggles as a student I feel that in some way I am a part of you.

Your interest in partnership with UNESCO is a laudable one because UNESCO is desirous of incorporating, especially in this period of rapprochement of culture, inclusiveness of all efforts geared to engage cultural diversity and promote UNESCO's mandate for peace, equality, non-discrimination and respect for all human beings.

I have been asked on many occasions to explain how it was possible for me to reach this position particularly since I come from a very small developing island. The only answer that I could give is that it all came from perseverance, I see myself as someone who feels as Robert Browning the writer said "a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for." But the main incentive came from Robert Frost's " the road not taken": "two roads diverged in a wood.....and I, I took the road less travelled by and that made all the difference."

I am extremely proud to represent the 193 members of UNESCO.

H. Challenges: Technology Deployment - Languages Supporters Diverse Goals

Finally, in dealing with future challenges, technologies are useless if we do not know how to deploy them, the goals and visions of the different languages supporters in the world are diverse and sometimes contradictory.

People tend to believe that promoting languages means mainly to promote their own language. That to me smacks of isolationism.
This is why the priority is to create a shared vision and shared objectives and work at the establishment of a common vision, based on commonly agreed criteria, data and goals.

I. United Nations and UNESCO role

The United Nations and UNESCO in particular have an important role to play (in language preservation and promotion based on commonly agreed criteria, data and goals.). For example,

• by promoting international forums and debates on the key issues, and

• by creating joint monitoring criteria and tools useful to collect and convey internationally agreed and acknowledged data as a base of joint action.

Information and opinions exchanged during this day constitute a good basis, I hope, to enrich the reflection of all and direct it towards more effective action. It goes without saying that the limited resources and huge challenges ahead require strategic choices.

Thank you once again and I wish you continued success in your future endeavors.

Note on President of the General Conference, Davidson L. HEPBURN (Commonwealth of The Bahamas).

Dr Hepburn, the President of the 35th session of UNESCO's General Conference, served for 15 years at the United Nations, 10 of which as Ambassador of The Bahamas to UN. He has been involved with UNESCO since 1993 and has served as Chairman of The Bahamas National Commission to UNESCO, as well as Chairman of the Committee on Conventions and Recommendations.

Biography: http://www.unesco.org/en/general-conference-35th-session/president/davidson-l-hepburn-phd/


Multilingual quote from Mother Language day from Davidson Hepburn:

UNESCOCAT. Día Internacional lengua materna. Davidson L. Hepburn, President Conferència Internacional de la UNESCO.

Es necessària i imprescindible, la promoció de la llengua materna però també ho és conèixer altres llengües. Només quan s'entenen les altres llengües que parlen les persones, és possible aprofundir en el coneixement i l'entesa.

Día internacional de la lengua materna.
Es necesaria e imprescindible la promoción de la lengua materna, pero también lo es conocer otras lenguas. Solo cuando se comprenden las otras lenguas que hablan las personas, es posible profundizar en el conocimiento mutuo.

International Mother Language Day.
It is necessary and essential, the promotion of mother language but so is knowing other languages. Only when you understand the other languages that people speak, it is possible to increase the knowledge and understanding.