Language policy is a sensitive issue in most countries. In countries where more than one language is spoken—the vast majority of countries—language policies affect the ability of individuals and groups to participate in government, to be treated fairly by governmental agencies, to have access to government services, to take advantage of educational opportunities, and to pursue economic success.
Ethnic conflict, one of the most serious and widespread problems in the world today, can undermine efforts to promote political and economic development, as well as political, economic, and social justice. It can also lead to violence and open warfare, producing horrifying levels of death and destruction. Although government policies on ethnic issues often have profound effects on a country, the subject has been neglected by most scholars and analysts.