Diversity and Global Understanding Presentations online!

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All the presentations are now online: http://www.workshops-on-diversity.org

ACUNS video lectures available online

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The ACUNS Annual Meeting 2010 took place in Vienna from 3-5 June 2010. TermNet, a member of ACUNS, was there and had organized a round-table on “Cultural Diversity and the UN: Old Implications and New Challenges“.

The keynote speeches and panels can now be viewed online.

Citizens, governments and international organizations are confronted with an array of security challenges, including new forms of terrorism and international criminal activity; security implications of environmental degradation; instability in the financial system; militarization of space; unregulated flows of small arms; nuclear technologies and illicit goods; and fragile and failing states. These security dilemmas require innovative thinking beyond traditional national security approaches. Our conference brought together a diverse group of academics and policy practitioners to examine these 21st century challenges and explore responses.

More about ACUNS 23rd Annual Meeting.


Google goes (further into) Africa

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Google unveiled localized Swahili versions of Gmail, Google Maps and Google Chrome.

Localizing software makes the Internet more relevant for users everywhere, but in African countries it has the special benefit of bridging the huge Digital Divide and thus bring the local population closer to information that are relevant for economic development, education, health, democracy and their government. “Google is focusing on making the internet more relevant and useful to Africans by creating more African content online; raising awareness among consumers and businesses about the opportunities offered by the internet; and developing products that are locally meaningful” writes KBC online.

Joe Mucheru, Google Lead for Sub Saharan Africa, said in an interview with the KBC, “The Internet offers so many opportunities, and we want to make the Internet more relevant and useful to East Africans.  Being able to use products like Chrome, Gmail and Maps in Swahili means that our users will now have a much better experience of the web in their day-to-day lives. And this is just the beginning.”

Google’s announcement coincides with the commencement of the East Africa Community Common Market in July 2010. The common market wants to see trade among the signing countries made easier and has as an ultimate goal a single currency. It represents a significant milestone for the people of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda & Burundi, which will create new opportunities for the free movement of capital, goods, services and persons across East Africa.However, experts do not see it is likely to be in full swing until 2015.

Swahili is spoken by approx. 120 million people in the East African Common Market or 20% of all speakers of indigenous languages in Africa. “Swahili uniquely conveys much of our shared culture, is the lingua franca used in day-to-day interaction across borders, is one of the languages of the African Union and is becoming an increasingly important part of the internet fabric in Africa” says the Chairman of the Kiswahili and African Languages Department at Kenyatta University, Dr Leonard Chacha Mwita.

Google currently has offices in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal. This week, the company has also made localized versions of Gmail and Maps available in Amharic.

EU fears shortage of language professionals

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Published on EurActiv (http://www.euractiv.com)

The following article was originally published on EURACTIV on 29 June 2010.

EU backs linguist recruitment drive

The European Commission has joined other international organisations in calling for language learning in schools to be properly funded and career opportunities for professionals like interpreters and translators to be better promoted.


The EU’s language industry is worth €8.4bn and is set to grow by 10% annually over the next few years after having recorded one of the highest growth rates of any industrial sector despite the economic crisis, according to a European Commission-backed study published in November 2009 (EurActiv 30/11/09).

The EU institutions employ translators and interpreters for all 23 of the bloc’s official languages, spending around €1bn on their language services every year (representing about 1% of the EU budget or €2.50 per citizen).

72% of EU documents are originally drafted in English, 12% in French and just 3% in German, while 88% of the users of the European Commission’s Europa website speak English, according to figures from the EU executive.

EU Multilingualism Androulla Vassiliou backed the so-called ‘Paris Declaration’, issued on 23 June, which saw the heads of language and conference services of 76 international organisations call for “the necessary budgetary resources” to be allocated to “effective succession planning” for upcoming staff retirements, as well as “pedagogical assistance activities” and examinations.

They were meeting at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris for the International Annual Meeting on Language Arrangements, Documentation and Publications (IAMLADP), which took place from 21-23 June.

The Paris Declaration warned that a “global shortage of qualified linguists” meant that without a new generation of professionals trained with the necessary language skills, “international organisations will be unable to perform their vital tasks”.

Commissioner Vassiliou stressed the EU executive’s commitment to supporting efforts to encourage language learning in schools and universities as part of EU multilingualism policy.

“We need to get the message across to parents and young people that languages open doors and linguists have excellent career prospects,” Vassiliou said.

Indeed, fears that the EU will face a “serious shortage” of interpreters within five to 10 years have led its institutions to run joint awareness-raising campaigns this year to encourage young people to consider language careers in Brussels.

European Commission representatives were in France last November alongside colleagues from the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice to advertise careers as interpreters at the European Education Salon in Paris (EurActiv 20/11/09).

November’s effort follows earlier initiatives to boost interest in EU language careers among native English (EurActiv 18/02/09), Czech and Latvian speakers amid fears of a “succession crisis”.

The Paris Declaration, meanwhile, urged national authorities to “promote the teaching of languages throughout the education system in order to ensure that young people can take advantage of the vast range of employment openings in international organisations”.

Source: EurActiv Website

Right to Interpretation in Trials for EU Citizens

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The Global Herald reports about the new law for all EU Citizens. European Parliament has adopted a new law to ensure anyone facing charges in an EU country is given access to an interpreter and translation of documents. The directive was adopted by the European Parliament by 637 votes to 21, with 19 abstentions. This new regulation will assure fairer trials for EU citizens abroad.

The costs of implementing this directive will be covered by the Member States, irrespective of the outcome of the proceedings.

Read the full article: Global Herald