ASSEMBLY CALLS FOR AGREEMENT ON RELATIONSHIP WITH CTBT PREPARATORY COMMISSION ALSO MANDATES APPOINTMENT OF MULTILINGUALISM COORDINATOR FOR SECRETARIAT19991206
The General Assembly this morning called for an agreement to be drafted to regulate the relationship between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the organization that will eventually monitor the implementation of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
The Assembly took that action without a vote as it adopted a resolution by which it invited the Secretary-General to conclude such an agreement with the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear- Test-Ban Treaty Organization, and to submit the agreement to the Assembly for approval.
In preambular paragraphs, the resolution recalls that the Assembly on 10 September 1996 adopted the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which was opened for signature at Headquarters two weeks later. It notes also that, on 19 November 1996, the Meeting of States Signatories to the Treaty established the Preparatory Commission, which has the status of an international organization. On 22 April 1999, the Commission adopted a decision on an agreement to regulate its relationship with the United Nations.
Although the text was adopted without a vote, the representative of Libya recalled that the CTBT had not responded to the desire of the majority of people who wanted all nuclear weapons eliminated. Syria also reiterated its concern that the Treaty provided no assurances to non-nuclear-weapons States that such weapons would not be used against them.
In other action this morning, the Assembly adopted a resolution calling on the Secretary-General to appoint a senior official as coordinator of questions relating to multilingualism in the Secretariat. That action was also taken without a vote, but the representatives of Thailand and Japan reiterated their reservations over the provision of a 1995 resolution, cited in the current text, which called for Secretariat staff to have a full command of two of the United Nations six official languages [English, French, Russian, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese]. That requirement, according to both speakers, placed those individuals whose mother tongue was not one of those languages at a great disadvantage. The Japanese speaker called for equitable treatment of such staff members when it came to promotion and advancement. The representative of
General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9676 70th Meeting (AM) 6 December 1999
Côte dIvoire expressed similar concerns during the debate on the issue, and urged that particular attention be paid to the situation of francophone African women, of whom there were very few employed in the Secretariat.
The Assembly also discussed cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Speakers generally stressed the valuable role placed by the OSCE in conflict prevention and resolution, and urged further strengthening of cooperation between that organization and the United Nations. A draft resolution on the subject will be considered at a later date.
Also this morning, the Assembly decided to consider a new agenda item, entitled "International Recognition of the Day of Vesak", directly in plenary meeting. It also decided to add an item on financing of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) to its agenda and to allocate the item to its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).
It also decided to reopen consideration of the election of a member of the International Court of Justice, as Judge Steven Schwebel, President of the Court, has resigned, effective 29 February 2000, and the Assembly and the Security Council will have to elect a member of the Court to serve out his current term of office, which expires on 5 February 2006. The Assembly took note of the fact that the Council had already decided that the election to fill the vacancy would take place on 2 March 2000 at concurrent meetings of the Council and the Assembly.
Statements were made on cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE by the representatives of Norway, Lithuania and Finland (on behalf of the European Union), Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Russian Federation, Republic of Moldova, Austria and Belarus.
Statements on multilingualism were made by the representatives of France, Syria, Côte d'Ivoire, Monaco, Andorra, Austria, Hungary, Russian Federation and Haiti. Statements in explanation of vote after adoption of the resolution on that subject were made by the representatives of Thailand and Japan.
A statement on cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty was made by Austria. Statements in explanation of vote after adoption of the text were made by Syria and Libya.
The Assembly will meet next at 3 p.m. today to consider the recommendations of its Fourth Committee (Political and Decolonization).
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this morning to consider the requests to add items to its agenda. It was also set to discuss cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the issue of multilingualism in the Organization.
Report of General Committee
The Assembly had before it the third report of the General Committee (document A/54/250/Add.2) which recommends that -- at the request of the representatives of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Lao Peoples Democratic Republic, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Phillippines, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Ukraine a new item, International recognition of the Day of Vesak, be included in the Assemblys agenda and considered directly in plenary meeting.
A note by the Secretary-General (document A/54/236) requests the Assembly to add another item, on Financing of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, and allocate it to the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).
By another note (document A/54/624), the Secretary-General informs the General Assembly that due to the resignation of the President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Stephen Schwebel, on 19 November, a vacancy will occur on 29 February 2000. To enable the Assembly to elect a member of the Court to serve for the remainder of Judge Schwebels current term -- until 5 February 2006 - it will be necessary to reopen consideration of agenda item 15 (c).
Cooperation between United Nations and OSCE
A report of the Secretary-General (document A/54/537) states that, during the past year, cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE has intensified, although both organizations have limited financial material and human resources. The United Nations has retained the lead in peacemaking efforts in Abkhazia, Georgia and Tajikistan, while the OSCE has done so with respect to the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and the conflict over the Nagorny Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Also, earlier in the year, it was agreed that the OSCE would take the lead role in institution-building in Kosovo.
The report says that recently, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) developed a comprehensive strategic partnership with the OSCE, centred on preventing mass displacement and recognizing the critical link between that phenomenon and security, as well as the need to address the humanitarian dimension of conflict resolution processes. Other agencies and bodies involved in the cooperation include the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-- particularly in the area of human rights - the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) and the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT).
Cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE was established by the adoption of General Assembly resolution 53/85 (1998), which acknowledged the increasing contribution of the OSCE in establishing and maintaining international peace and security in its region.
A report on multilingualism (document A/54/478) states that the Secretary- General is committed to promoting the learning of all official and working languages of the United Nations by Secretariat staff, and to ensuring that adequate resources are available for this purpose. Language programmes and self- study centres are currently provided at major duty stations, and plans are under way to use the Internet to support language-learning efforts.
As an added incentive for staff to become proficient in two or more official languages, the interval between salary increments is being reduced from 12 to 10 months for those in the professional category and above who pass language proficiency exams, while staff in the General Service and related categories are given language allowances. All candidates recruited for the Secretariat are required to have a full command of either English or French.
On the issue of translation of documentation, the report stresses the importance of training translators, in order to improve their skills and maintain the quality of translation. To that end, a computer-assisted translation project was undertaken in July and will be extended into the first half of the year 2000. The project serves to automate part of the referencing work undertaken in preparation for translation, through computerized extraction of previously translated material. The mandate for simultaneous distribution of documents in all official languages has been strictly followed since 1981 and was reiterated in December 1998 in resolution 53/208B.
The report states that the Department of Public Information continues to produce and disseminates a broad range of information material in all media in the official languages. The Organizations web site, launched in 1995, added pages in Arabic and Chinese last year. United Nations radio programmes are produced and disseminated in all six official languages; United Nations television productions are also adapted in the official languages for worldwide distribution. The Dag Hammarskjöld Library is also a multilingual facility.
The report concludes that the Secretariat continues to follow the policy of promoting the learning and use of the official and working languages of the United Nations in all its activities, in an effort to promote multilingualism.
Draft on Multilingualism
By the terms of a 69-Power draft resolution (document A/54/L.37), the Assembly would decide to include in the provisional agenda of its next session an item entitled, Multilingualism.
Third Report of General Committee
The General Assembly, acting on the recommendation of its General Committee, decided without a vote to include the item, "International Recognition of the Day of Vesak" in the agenda of its current session and to consider it directly in plenary meeting.
Financing of UNTAET
On a request from the Secretary-General, the Assembly decided to include the item, "Financing of UNTAET" in its current agenda and to allocate that item to its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).
Election of Member of International Court of Justice
The Assembly then in the light of the resignation of the President of the International Court of Justice, then decided to reopen consideration of the item on the election of a member of the International Court of Justice. It took note of the fact that the Security Council, in resolution 1278 (1999) of 30 November, had decided that the election to fill the vacancy would take place on 2 March 2000 at concurrent meetings of the Council and the Assembly.
Statements on OSCE Cooperation
KNUT VOLLEBAEK (Norway) said the security problems of post-cold war Europe were so complex that no single institution, nor any single country, could deal with them on its own. It was necessary to draw on the combined resources of all institutions and cooperative arrangements. That issue had been at the heart of the debate at the OSCE Summit held in Istanbul last month. The Security Charter adopted by the Summit underscored that threats to security and stability could stem from conflicts within as well as between States and reiterated that there was no such thing as internal affairs when commitments in the human dimension were being violated. On the contrary, such violations were of legitimate concern to all OSCE States.
As follow-up to the Summit, the Russian Federation had agreed to a visit by the Chairman-in-Office to carry out a broad assessment of the situation in the region and to consider ways in which the OSCE could help in alleviating the humanitarian crisis, he said. Turning to the situation in Kosovo, he said police training was particularly important to build a society based on the rule of law, and expressed concern about the continuing spiral of ethnically motivated violence. Elections should be held as soon as possible, but not before they could satisfy basic international standards; drawing up a civil registry and a credible voters list was a particularly urgent part of the preparations. He then reviewed cooperation between the OSCE and the Central African States in efforts to implement a strategy to support and sustain reform in the region.
The Security Charter adopted by the Summit aimed to strengthen further the conflict-prevention and crisis-management capabilities of the OSCE and to facilitate closer cooperation with other international organizations, such as the United Nations, by building on recent experience from the Balkans and elsewhere. The new form of cooperation now developing in Europe should serve as a model for other parts of the world.
OSKARAS JUSYS (Lithuania) said that regional bodies were often better equipped to take on regional issues than global organizations. Reliance on such bodies as the OSCE in upholding universal values in Europe had been productive. They had performed skillfully in the fields of their comparative advantage in the Balkans, Caucasus or Central Asia. Lithuanians who had participated in many multilateral projects around Europe had witnessed successful inter-institutional cooperation.
Despite developments in the Northern Caucasus and Chechnya, he said, the OSCE had registered real achievements and remained a strong and reliable pillar of the United Nations in Europe. The two organizations whose security dimension was based on confidence-building policies of conventional arms control, transparency in armaments and information sharing could complement each other in response to security challenges. The degree of cooperation within the OSCE in the sphere of arms and weapons transparency, now improved through the updated Vienna Document, could serve as an example for the United Nations and other regional bodies. The OSCE decision to take measures to alleviate the tragedy of children in armed conflicts was in line with United Nations policies.
He praised the cooperation in the human dimension among international organizations in Europe. Kosovo was an example where cooperation among institutions to provide complementary services in the field had been especially meaningful; it revealed an orderly and fully-fledged cooperation.
MARJATTA RASI (Finland), on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the Union had been a major contributor, in terms of financial and human resources, to the activities of the OSCE, and would continue to be. It supported the role of the OSCE as a primary instrument of early warning, conflict prevention and mediation, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in the region. Further strengthening of the OSCE would enable it better to assume its responsibilities as a regional body. The strengthening of cooperation with the United Nations was apparent from a series of operations that the two organizations had undertaken jointly or consecutively. In no other place had that cooperation been as tangible as in Kosovo. The OSCE had played an essential role in the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) with respect to institution- building, democratization, human rights, media, elections and the training of judges, police and local administrators.
She said that cooperation between the UNMIBH and the OSCE in the implementation of the peace accords also continued to be exemplary. In addition, the Union supported the OSCE Mission in Croatia, which had taken over the police monitoring in Eastern Slavonia from the United Nations. To achieve stability in South Eastern Europe as a whole, the Union had launched the Stability Pact, designed to seek broad-based and sustainable solutions to issues relating to democracy, human rights, economic reconstruction and security, and placed it under the auspices of the OSCE. The Union also backed the work of the OSCE Minsk Group concerning Nagorny Karabakh, and also encouraged closer cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE in addressing the violence in Abkhazia, Georgia.
She stressed that the human dimension in cooperative security should continue to be developed. The Union placed special emphasis on the rights of persons belonging to national and ethnic minorities, and the preservation of the multi-ethnic character of societies in all circumstances.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said the Secretary-Generals report indicated that cooperation between the OSCE and the United Nations should be further developed, based on a division of labour that made maximum use of the comparative advantages of the two organizations. Both organizations must continue to focus on such key issues as preventive diplomacy and settlement of conflicts, post-conflict rehabilitation, protection of human rights, rights of ethnic minorities and displaced persons, fundamental freedoms. The growing cooperation in the field of conflict management had entered a new phase -- namely, post-conflict peace- building.
Turning to Kosovo, he said the OSCE was responsible for extremely challenging and sensitive aspects of UNMIKs efforts, particularly those having to do with institution-building, human rights, democratization, mass media and organizing of elections. In that endeavour, the OSCE component of UNMIK was closely collaborating with other pillars of the United Nations Mission. That brand new type of cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE in Kosovo illustrated a positive trend, as the focus shifted from complementary peace efforts to mutual interdependence.
The charter on European Security was a platform for all-embracing and cooperative security for Europe in the next century, the core of which would be an equal partnership among the leading security organizations of the European continent, with active involvement of the United Nations, he said. He welcomed cooperation with respect to forced migration, refugees and displaced persons. Moreover, the OSCE experience in the sphere of conflict management showed that the majority of conflicts in the OSCE area stemmed from separatist movements, caused by disrespect for, or violations of, national minority rights. In that regard, Ukraine had managed successfully to settle the inter-ethnic problems and obtained considerable experience.
YERZHAN KAZYKHANOV (Kazakhstan) considered cooperation between the United Nations agencies and the various OSCE institutions to be extremely important. The OSCE sphere of activity extended beyond the geographical boundaries of Europe; Central Asian countries made their contribution, giving real substance to the concept of Eurasian security. Central Asia was a unique outpost of Europe, facing new threats, such as uncontrolled immigration, drug trafficking, organized crime, religious extremism and terrorism.
He said his country attached particular importance to both the European and Asian vectors of security. In September this year, the first meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs for Asian member States of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, had taken place. They had signed a Declaration of Principles guiding relations among member States of the Conference, thereby laying the foundations for a security system for Asia. The meeting had been initiated by Kazakhstan. Coordination of the OSCE programme for Central Asia on issues of economics, politics and human rights was of paramount importance; he welcomed the development of a special United Nations programme for the economies of Central Asia, along the lines of the regional economic commissions.
He said that cooperation between the OSCE and Kazakhstan was becoming more robust. The Memorandum of Understanding signed in Oslo by Kazakhstan and the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights had enabled his country to begin implementing programmes to help develop and strengthen democratic institutions. The expansion of Kazakhstans interaction with the OSCE would help reinforce security and stability in the region
PETER TOMKA (Slovakia) said significant political changes in Europe had brought unexpected new challenges. The continents ethnic differences had become a handy tool that some groups and individuals had been misusing to reach shortsighted political goals. Citing developments in the Balkans, he said the phenomenon had demonstrated that no State or international organization -- global or regional -- was capable of dealing with those kinds of problems on its own. Regional organizations could contribute to maintaining international peace and security if they coordinated with, and complemented, the activities of the United Nations. The OSCE had proven to be an important actor in creating a new comprehensive security model for Europe.
He encouraged the United Nations to continue to collaborate with the OSCE, citing the human dimension as a main asset of that organizations expertise. He also supported its role in early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in the region. There was a manual released by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations that was relevant to ongoing cooperation between the two organizations; it should become integral in planning and implementing their future joint peacekeeping missions.
Cooperation should be strengthened in other areas, including international crime and illicit drug trafficking and the fight against organized crime and terrorism, which posed new security threats, he continued. Also, there was room for improvement. For example, responsibility for rebuilding the justice system in Kosovo was shared by the two organizations in what seemed to be a complex and confusing arrangement. It appeared as though there were some sort of rivalry between the United Nations and the OSCE.
GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) said the Istanbul Summit of the OSCE had laid down the guidelines for a stable architecture for peace in Europe in the twenty-first century, including the adoption of the Security Charter based on codes of conduct. By enhancing the central role of the OSCE in conflict prevention, that document provided the momentum for strengthening cooperation with the United Nations. An enhanced OSCE could better fulfil its potential. Cooperation must be based on the key issues of the international community: promoting the prevention and settlement of conflicts; peacekeeping; and respect for human rights, including those of national minorities, refugees and displaced persons.
He said a priority area was building pan-European peacekeeping potential while maintaining the inviolability of the role of the Security Council in that process. Regional cooperation must proceed in close consultation with the United Nations and be based on its Charter. Last year had seen substantial progress in the deepening of cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE. The Russian Federation consistently supported that cooperation as a means of preventing conflicts in the region and finding solutions to existing conflicts. He cited Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Georgia among those areas where such cooperation was working.
ION BOTNARU (Republic of Moldova) said that in Eurasia the OSCE promoted democratization and the rule of law, and had managed to link those issues to those of security in a unique fashion. It had also contributed much to transparency on military exercises and budgets. The implementation of important decisions made at the recent OSCE Istanbul Summit would considerably consolidate OSCEs capabilities in the field of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post- conflict rehabilitation, enabling it to discharge better its responsibilities as a regional organization, along the lines of Chapter VIII of the Charter.
The Istanbul Summit had taken place at an important time in the development of the European security architecture. The adoption within the framework of that Summit of the revised Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) and of the updated Vienna Document on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures must significantly increase security and stability in the region. The new CFE Treaty strengthened the requirements that host countries must give consent for the deployment of foreign forces on their territory. Given the considerable amount of ammunition that should be removed or destroyed in the near future, international assistance was much needed.
Expressing concern about the situation in the former Soviet Union, he said United Nations agencies and OSCE missions could and should discover new areas of cooperation to facilitate the settlements of the frozen conflicts. An increased and continuing cooperation between the two organizations was particularly needed in the Ukraine; there had been no tangible progress in resolving the problems in that countrys eastern part. All capabilities of the two organizations must be used decisively, and not be hindered by concerns over the so-called division of labour.
GERHARD PFANZELTER (Austria) said his countrys chairmanship of the OSCE in 2000 was a major foreign policy priority. Emphasis would be placed on strengthening its resources as a field organization, particularly in conflict prevention, crisis management and post-crisis rehabilitation. Also, the Caucasus would be a focal point; the OSCE would make efforts to integrate the Central Asian States in the organizations activities. Humanitarian issues -- such as the prevention of torture, children in armed conflicts, internally displaced persons and trafficking in human beings -- would be addressed. The OSCE also planned to hold a seminar on children in armed conflict.
ALYAKSANDR SYCHOV (Belarus) said that comprehensive cooperation among States on matters of security was important; it should be supplemented by development activities. He welcomed the OSCE Summit, which had further strengthened the relationship between the United Nations and the OSCE. It had allowed for a clear- cut division of tasks between the two organizations, and provided the instruments with which to implement them. The Summit had also reaffirmed the role of the OSCE as the principal regional organization with responsibilities for peace and security in the region, in keeping with the principles of the United Nations.
Belarus welcomed the adoption of the Istanbul Agreement, because it strengthened trust between Member States and promoted multilateral cooperation and good neighbourliness, he added. It also attached importance to cooperation in emergency assistance and protecting the environment. Coordination of such efforts had minimized the consequences of Chernobyl; that experience should act as a guide for further work of the OSCE in this area.
The PRESIDENT of the General Assembly said that a draft resolution of the item would be considered at a later date.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France), introducing the draft on multilingualism, announced India, Lesotho, China, Belarus, Cape Verde, Italy, Brazil, Yemen, Albania, Egypt, Qatar, Oman, Lithuania, Germany, Central African Republic, Kuwait, Chile, Bulgaria, and Austria as additional co-sponsors. Operative paragraph 2 required the Secretary-General to appoint a senior Secretariat official to coordinate questions related to multilingualism, he said. That would not have budgetary implications, however, because the coordinator would be appointed from among serving staff.
The new post would handle questions related to interpretation, documents, the web site and training of staff members. The coordinator would be a single interlocutor for staff and delegations. The coordinator would also have an important role to play in preparing the report of the Secretary-General for the next regular session of the Assembly.
TAMMAM SULAIMAN (Syria) said that multilingualism was one of the cornerstones of the United Nations. It was language that had saved the heritage of the ancient world and brought it to the age of the information revolution. Linguistic elements determined the demographic and ethnic roots of societies. Language was the main badge of the national identity of a people, but to fulfil that role, it must survive. Arabic had survived and was cherished today; its inclusion in 1974 as an official United Nations language had been significant as a recognition of its widespread nature.
The United Nations must accord equality among the official languages in all aspects of its work, he continued. Arab people and speakers must know the positions of Arab States vis-à-vis issues taken up by the United Nations. Measures should be taken to improve the linguistic qualifications of United Nations staff. The system vis-à-vis the Arabic language in the Organization was obsolete. He hoped the Assembly would act to change that. Multilingualism must continue if the United Nations were to enrich the cultural heritage of humankind.
DIÉNÉBOU KABA CAMARA (Côte dIvoire) said the United Nations was a crucible for all the peoples and could only be enriched by the diversity of languages, which could be used to explore better ways of dealing with future challenges. The founders of the Organization had been aware of this; that was why they had included French as an official language in 1946, Spanish in 1948, Russian in 1968 and Chinese and Arabic in 1973.
She thanked the Secretary-General for recognizing the need to promote equally all the official languages of the Organization and to make multilingualism the rule. She commended the Department of Public Information (DPI) for developing Internet sites in all the official languages. However, she said, while there had been some progress, the Organization had been slow in recruiting multilingual staff and in achieving simultaneous distribution of documents in all the working languages. Many vacancy notices called for excellent knowledge of English, but only a practical knowledge of French. This excluded a large majority of individuals who did not have Anglo-Saxon training, including brilliant people who could bring innovative ideas to the Organization. The provision of interpretation services in informal meetings was also a problem; delegates whose working language was not English often found themselves unable to make comments.
On the issue of gender equality, she said that despite current efforts, women were still losing out, especially those from French-speaking Africa. A francophone African woman was still a rarity in the United Nations. She called for the appointment of a Coordinator for Multilingualism who would promote the universal character of the Organization.
JACQUES L. BOISSON (Monaco) said the benefits of multilingualism were seen daily in business, economy, leisure activities and tourism. The use of different languages in the Secretariat was to be treasured. The draft resolution contemplated an important step, asking the Secretary-General to appoint a senior official in charge of all issues related to multilingualism. Such a coordinator would be very useful.
He invited the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to develop the use of technology to improve the quality of translations. He welcomed progress made with respect to the web site. He also expressed the hope that the currently trilingual Thesaurus could soon be available in all six official languages.
Respect for multilingualism was a guarantor of cooperation among Member States, and a source of intellectual enrichment, he said. Mutual understanding would lead to the solution of such problems as violence and terrorism, which were too often related to ignorance and disdain.
ALBERT PINTAT (Andorra) said his country had always used Catalan, its own language, at the United Nations in an effort to promote multilingualism. He encouraged countries to use the languages of their populations during the general debate. Languages were not barriers that prevented people from coming together. Cultural heritage enriched humankind through shared values. However, speaking the same language did not necessarily unite people. Each year, globalization would contribute to the disappearance of some languages, contributing to cultural impoverishment.
He said Andorra had sponsored the draft before the Assembly. United Nations staff should attempt to learn more languages; for that, they should be given financial incentives. Andorra had a system of education in Catalan, French and Spanish, and insisted that its people be trilingual. People from more than 85 nationalities resided in Andorra; it was a laboratory for a Europe that was uniting.
Multilingualism brought tolerance and mutual respect, he said. Diversity must be celebrated at the United Nations.
Mr. PFANZELTER (Austria) welcomed and supported the promotion of multilingualism. It was essential for the United Nations to offer access to all official languages and thereby develop the cultural riches within it. It was the obligation of the United Nations to avoid providing only for the needs of a privileged group by working only in certain languages; it was important to respect all sectors. The United Nations should not become a privileged club. If multilingualism were weakened, the Organization would also be weakened.
It was especially important to promote cooperation with non-governmental organizations, which were often small and local but provided reliable and genuine information, he said. Although the United Nations budgetary situation remained precarious, a coordinator for multilingualism would be appointed from existing high-level officials, so there would be no budgetary implications.
ANDRÉ ERDOS (Hungary) stressed the importance of study and use of multiple languages, which underlined the linguistic and cultural diversity of the United Nations. He welcomed the fact that the United Nations information centres used the languages of the countries they served. The Secretariat must promote parity among the languages.
NIKOLAI V. LOZINSKY (Russian Federation) said the use of different languages in the United Nations enriched the Organization and constituted a means to achieve the goals of the United Nations Charter. The presence of different languages constituted the nature of the United Nations and represented the cultural diversity of the world community. Moreover, the principle of equity among the working languages must be reaffirmed by the General Assembly. He expressed support for the appointment of a coordinator on multilingualism.
AZAD BELFORT (Haiti) supported the draft resolution because multilingualism was of great importance in these days of historic upheaval, otherwise known as globalization. He said that the idea of a lingua franca was not new -- even the Bible had mentioned a time when everyone spoke the same language. However, he agreed with Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the Secretary-General of the Organization of La Francophonie, when he said that linguistic and cultural diversity was important for human development. If everyone spoke the same language and States agreed on everything, this would lead to totalitarianism on an international scale.
Explanations of Vote
SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand) said although his delegation had joined in the consensus on the draft, it continued to have strong reservations on operative paragraph 3 of resolution 50/11 (1995), which called for staff members to have a command of two of the six official languages. That placed those individuals whose mother tongue was not one of those six languages at a great disadvantage. It was a latent form of discrimination.
At the core of cultural diversity were the principles of tolerance and mutual understanding, he said. That tolerance and understanding should also be extended to those cultures that, through their historical circumstances, had not been deeply associated with the six official languages of the United Nations. It would be unfortunate if the implementation of multilingualism should inadvertently lead to what could be perceived as intolerance and, consequently, the degradation of the respect for cultural diversity that it was supposed to promote.
KOJI F X. YAMAGIWA (Japan) said his delegation had reluctantly joined the consensus on the draft. Its fundamental position was to support multilingualism which would enhance and support cultural diversity in the United Nations. Assembly resolution 50/11 (1995), however, contained an element that Japan regarded as a possible basis for treating unfairly those staff members whose mother tongue was not one of the six languages. Japan had voted against adoption of that text, and circumstances had not changed since 1995. It was necessary to ensure that staff members whose mother tongue was not one of the official languages were treated equitably when it came to promotion and advancement.
PETRA SCHNEEBAUER (Austria), introducing the draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) Organization, announced Kenya and Spain as additional sponsors of the text.
She reviewed the work of the Preparatory Commission since its establishment in 1996. In April 1999, it had adopted an agreement to regulate the relationship between the Commission and the United Nations. It was urgently necessary for the Treaty to become operational, she said. The Commission was intensifying its work in that regard. Cooperation with the United Nations was crucial for the entering into force of the Treaty. Action on Draft
The resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission (document A/54/L.48) was adopted without a vote.
Explaining his position after the vote, AHMAD AL-HARIRI (Syria) said such a sensitive and important treaty as the CTBT could not set aside the legitimate concerns and preoccupation of non-nuclear States, which were in the majority. Those States had not been given any assurance that nuclear weapons would not be used against them. There was also no commitment from States that possessed nuclear weapons that their arsenals would be destroyed within a reasonable time. There was no set time for ensuring the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the assurances given were limited; they did not include laboratory explosions. On-site monitoring could open the way for misuse of data. The text of the Treaty allowed for signatories to take measures against non-signatories in violation of their sovereign rights. Meanwhile, Israel was still refusing to allow its nuclear arms to come under the safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and still threatened the region with its nuclear capabilities.
In explanation of vote after the vote, GUMA IBRAHIM AMER (Libya) said he had joined the consensus on the draft resolution, but that did not mean that Libya agreed with the way the Treaty had been formulated. He reaffirmed his countrys positions of September 1996, when the CTBT was adopted. The formulation of the CTBT had not satisfied the majority of people, who wanted all nuclear weapons eliminated. Also, it did not contain a timetable for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Instead, it consolidated a fait accompli and aborted the chances of a world free from nuclear terror. His Government did not accept half measures when it came to the survival of humanity.
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