Modern constitutions typically contain a variety of provisions on language.

They may designate one or more official languages, each with a different kind of legal status. Constitutions may also create language rights, usually held by minority-language speakers, granting groups and individuals the right to communicate with, and receive services from, the government in their native tongue. In systems of multi-level governance, constitutions may vest the authority to designate official language(s) for each order of government.

This Primer addresses the role of language in constitutional design, and the key considerations, implications and potential challenges that arise in multilingual states. It discusses the range of claims around language as a constitutional issue, and the potential consequences of successfully addressing these claims—or failing to do so.

Details

Publication date
29 April 2021
Author(s)
Sujit Choudhry and Erin C. Houlihan
Number of pages
49
ISBN
978-91-7671-412-6 (PDF)

Author(s)

Contents

1. Introduction

2. What is the issue?

3. Understanding language in context

4. Design alternatives

5. Additional design considerations

6. The (limited) role of international law

7. Decision-making questions

8. Examples

References

Annex

Give us feedback

Do you have a question or feedback about this publication? Leave us your feedback, and we’ll get back to you

Send feedback

Official Language Designation

Constitution-Building Primer 20
Total views 4407
Downloads 37
Rating
Close tooltip