Is it time to make knowledge of English a human right?

Rumy Hasan at Al Jazeera:

20131214131356706580_20 (1)For the first time in history, the world now is close to having a global language so that people from all corners of the globe can communicate with each other without recourse to interpreters and translators. This language is, of course, English. The reason why English has become so dominant is certainly interesting and debatable, but there is no debate that it is the sine qua non for many aspects of life. It is the language of diplomacy and international relations – the Iranians recognised this by agreeing to speak in English in their recent negotiations on their nuclear programme with the P5+1 countries. It is increasingly the language of global news as evidenced by many non-English speaking countries having television networks in the English language.

It is also essential for international business and finance, sport, airline travel (pilots are now required to have good command of English as part of the drive to improve aviation safety standards) and, to a significant extent, for popular music (for example, in the annual Eurovision Song contest, all but a handful of countries have their representatives sing in English).

It is also the language of knowledge. In many academic disciplines – especially natural and social sciences – cutting-edge research is conducted in English and findings are published in English language publications and websites. Accordingly, international conferences invariably demand that papers be submitted and presented in English. There is no denying, therefore, that without English, many avenues of some of the most rewarding careers and activities are simply closed.

More here.