General Assembly Adopts Texts on Professional Translation, Multilingualism, Participation by Observers in United Nations Oceans Conference

GA/11914
24 May 2017
Seventy-first Session, 82nd Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Adopts Texts on Professional Translation, Multilingualism, Participation by Observers in United Nations Oceans Conference

Taking up three texts on the role of professional translation, and cooperation between the United Nations and the International Organization of la Francophonie, the General Assembly adopted two draft resolutions and a draft decision today.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted a draft resolution titled “The role of professional translation in connection with nations and fostering peace, understanding and development”, deciding to declare 30 September International Translation Day.

By the terms of that text, the Assembly requested that the Secretary-General continue to preserve high quality and excellence in the work of language professionals within the Organization, while affirming the important role of professional translation in upholding the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.

Andrei Dapkiunas (Belarus) presented the draft, emphasizing that its meaning and importance was much broader and deeper than simply demonstrating respect for a profession closely linked to diplomacy and international affairs.  It was not about institutions or bodies; rather, it was first and foremost about people, the invisible workers and unsung heroes of the linguistic profession.  Language played an underappreciated role in human society, despite the fact that deeper respect for culture and language could help to forge greater unity and build bridges among civilizations and cultures, he said.

Gustavo Meza-Cuadra (Peru), speaking for the Group of Friends of Spanish, said the Group championed multilingualism as a core United Nations value touching on all areas of the Organization’s work.  It influenced how the United Nations projected itself to the world.  The Secretary-General’s associated report, titled “Multilingualism” (document A/71/757), detailed various activities carried out in support of multilingualism, including the proposed terms of reference for a Coordinator of Multilingualism who would be tasked with implementing multilingualism in a consistent and coherent manner across the Organization.  Noting that human resources work across the Organization was generally carried out in English and French, he called for human resources information brochures to be published in Spanish on Inspira.  He also welcomed the launch of the United Nations iLibrary platform, expressing hope that additional languages would soon be featured on the site.  Hopefully, the Department of Public Information would soon be able to provide coverage of intergovernmental meetings in all six official United Nations languages.  He welcomed enhanced efforts to recruit qualified Spanish-language translators and interpreters, as well as other professionals.

Acting again without a vote, the Assembly also adopted the draft titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Organization of la Francophonie” (document A/71/L.69), noting with satisfaction the continued strengthening of cooperation between the two organizations on human rights and gender equality.  Expressing its deep concern over continuing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, the Assembly welcomed the implementation of the May 2014 cooperation agreement between the International Organization of la Francophonie and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Also by the text, the Assembly noted with satisfaction the developing collaboration between the United Nations and the International Organization of la Francophonie on electoral monitoring and assistance.  Noting that a large number of civilian and military United Nations peacekeeping personnel were deployed in francophone countries, the Assembly encouraged efforts to increase the number and capacities of French-speaking civilian and military contingents.

By further terms of the text, the Assembly decided that it would consider cooperation between the United Nations and the International Organization of la Francophonie during its seventy-third session.

Zina Andrianarivelo-Razafy (Madagascar) submitted the text, pointing out that the International Organization of la Francophonie had increased coordination with the United Nations on political, economic, social, humanitarian, environmental, cultural, human rights and linguistic matters.  Noting that member States of the International Organization of la Francophonie had demonstrated their commitment to addressing gender-equality issues, he emphasized that linguistic diversity in peacekeeping missions was essential to success on the ground.  The resolution encouraged the promotion of exchanges and interactions between the two organizations, and stressed the commitment of francophone countries to supporting upcoming intergovernmental processes, including those relating to safe, orderly and regular migration, and the imminent United Nations Conference on Oceans.

Tofig Musayev (Azerbaijan) said his country’s Government paid special attention to the creation of more opportunities for citizens to learn French, including by providing new educational facilities, and had hosted a series of cultural events focusing on the use of that language.

Patricia Herdt, International Organization of la Francophonie, emphasized that entity’s unwavering commitment to addressing major international issues, saying it had positioned itself as a powerful source for action.  The resolution reflected efforts by both organizations to ensure that their actions were better coordinated and their solutions tangible.

In a final action, the Assembly also adopted, once again without a vote, the draft decision “Sustainable development: Oceans and the law of the sea” (document A/71/L.72), by which the Assembly decided to accredit and invite organizations previously identified by the Secretariat to participate as observers in the work of the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14.

The General Assembly will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

For information media. Not an official record.