15/02/2002
Press Release
GA/10009



Resumed Fifty-sixth General Assembly                                                            GA/10009*

Plenary                                                           15 February 2002

94th Meeting (PM)


CONCLUDING MULTILINGUALISM DEBATE, ASSEMBLY ENCOURAGES ACQUISITION


OF SECOND OFFICIAL LANGUAGE


Three-Part Resolution, Unanimously Adopted,

Stresses Need for Recruitment on Widest Possible Geographic Basis


Recognizing that genuine multilingualism promotes unity in diversity and international understanding, the General Assembly this afternoon encouraged United Nations staff members to actively continue using existing training facilities to acquire and enhance their proficiency in one or more official languages of the Organization.


Acting without a vote, it took that action as it adopted as orally amended, a three-part resolution on multilingualism, introduced by the representative of France.


By the terms of Part I of the text, the Assembly stressed that employment of staff shall continue to be carried out in strict accordance with Article 101 of the Charter and in line with the relevant provisions of the Assembly.


[According to Article 101, the Secretary-General shall appoint staff under the regulations established by the Assembly.  The paramount consideration in the employment of staff and in the determination of conditions of service shall be the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity.  Due regard shall also be paid to the importance of recruiting staff on as wide a geographical basis as possible.]  


By other terms of today’s text, the Assembly stressed that the promotion of staff in the Professional and higher categories should be carried out in strict accordance with Article 101 and in line with the provisions of its resolution 2480 B (XXIII) and the relevant provisions of its resolution 55/258 on Human Resources Management. 


[In resolution 2480 B (XXIII) the Assembly asked the Secretary-General to take steps to ensure that from 1 January 1970, the acceptable minimum requirement at the moment of recruitment would be the ability to use one of the working languages of the Secretariat.  It also stated that from 1 January 1972, all


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*     Press Release GA/10007 of 31 January should have been numbered GA/10008.

promotions from one grade to another, from P-1 to D-2 inclusive, for staff subject to geographical distribution, would be conditional upon adequate and confirmed knowledge of a second working language.


In resolution 55/258 the Assembly asked the Secretary-General to develop further criteria for mobility to maximize its benefits for the Organization and to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of all staff.   The International Civil Service Commission was also asked to conduct a comprehensive review of the question of mobility and its implications for career development of United Nations staff members.] 


By the terms of Part II of today’s adopted text, the Assembly welcomed the decision by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on 17 November 1999, that 21 February be proclaimed "International Mother Language Day".  It called on Member States and the Secretariat to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by the world's people.


Introducing the draft, France’s representative said the text before the Assembly was the product of a real consensus and united all around a shared purpose, to ensure that multilingualism lived.


Japan’s representative, speaking in explanation of vote before adoption of the text, said the draft contained no language that was disadvantageous to nationals whose mother tongue was not an official language of the United Nations.  It also paid due regard to the principle of equitable geographical distribution.  Multilingualism was to be pursued to promote and protect diversity of languages and cultures. 


Vadim Perfiliev, Director, General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services, also informed Members that the text just adopted would have no programme budget implications for the biennium 2002-2003.


Yemen’s representative (speaking on behalf of the Arab Group) said in explanation of his position after adoption of the text that the draft should have stressed that interpretation should be available at all meetings, including regional ones, and that documentation should be provided in all six languages.  The latter was often neglected.  He also reiterated the importance of the Assembly implementing all resolutions without selectivity.  He further underscored that Part III of the text did not contain all objectives of the agenda item. 


The Assembly was also informed this afternoon that Libya had made the necessary payments to reduce its arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the Charter.


The text was co-sponsored by Afghanistan, Albania, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, and Georgia.


Also co-sponsoring the text were Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Nicaragua, Niger, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, San Marino, Senegal, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, Sudan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam and Yugoslavia.


The Assembly will meet again at a date and time to be announced.


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