When Polish jurist Raphael Lemkin first proposed the conceptof genocide in 1944, he defined it as a ‘coordinated plan of action’ that aimedto destroy certain human groups. This coordinated plan included the banning ofminority languages, and efforts to replace them with dominant languages in theclassroom, the streets, and even in the home. However, when the genocideconvention was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, allmention of languages had been removed. In this talk, I will explain how and whythis happened, and discuss the contemporary consequences of this seeminglyminor change. In particular, I will talk about important political changes thathappened in the 1990s and their impact on the ongoing elimination of Indigenousand minority languages around the world today, including in Australia.
Gerald Roche is a political anthropologist andsenior lecturer at La Trobe University. He is also co-chair of the GlobalCoalition for Language Rights, and can be found on Twitter @GJosephRoche