International Forum on Multilingualism


Bamako, Mali (19-21 January 2009)

The Bamako International Forum on Multilingualism (BIFM) took place in Bamako, Mali, from 19 to 21 January 2009. The aim was to look back on the International Year of Languages on the African continent through an event of international scope and perspective.

The Forum brought together experts from disciplines related to languages, education and the information society, thus representing the multi-stakeholder partners of international governance.

The major challenges identified were those of mother tongue-based multilingual education, and the presence of all languages in the digital world (particularly the Internet), in terms of access, content and digital culture. These challenges are exacerbated by the fact that a large number of languages currently spoken risk extinction in the course of this century.

The World Network for Linguistic Diversity was the engine behind the Forum, which was organized under the auspices of ACALAN, in partnership with UNESCO, OIF, the Union Latine, the Governments of Austria and Mali, international institutions and other interested stakeholders.

The Bamako International Forum on Multilingualism adopted the Bamako Commitment for Universal Multilingualism together with a political Plan of Action, including an international multi-sectorial programme for mother tongue-based multilingual education and proposals for linguistic diversity in the digital world. It also established a Technical Secretariat for the follow-up of the Forum.

To achieve its objectives, the BIFM recommends the creation of an International Commission to prepare a Report for the General Assembly of the United Nations, with a view to holding a World Summit on the importance of multilingualism in relation to the Global Agenda.