Thank you very much for the opportunity to address this important fifth Conference of the United Nations and its partner universities.
I am delighted to see so many colleagues and partners here.
The Secretary-General places great importance on multilingualism. He sees it as a pre-condition for success at the United Nations.
As an intergovernmental organization, the United Nations is by its very nature diverse. In our DNA, we value diversity. Multilingualism is both an expression of our mission and a vehicle to deliver on our promises to the world’s peoples.
Through multilingualism, we communicate with suffering people and help them shape their own future. Through multilingualism, we bring warring parties to the table to negotiate peace. Through multilingualism, we spread understanding about human rights and fundamental freedoms. In fact, in 2009, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was recognized as the most translated document – from A to Z, or from Abkhaz to Zulu. The translations have made this human rights Declaration truly universal. Such is the power of language!
Multilingualism is essential to realizing the mandates we get from the Member States. Whether we are asked to convene a global conference, rush aid to a disaster area, or help a country to achieve sustainable development, we need to communicate. And international communications demand multilingualism.
As you know, when the Secretary-General took the Oath of Office, he said, “We must be able to communicate better about what we do, in ways that everybody understands.” This includes communications in multiple languages.
Across the United Nations and around the world, language experts facilitate understanding among nations. They ensure that the decisions of intergovernmental bodies are understood, implemented and accepted by the peoples we serve.
We can only do this thanks to well-trained professionals. That is why we are so grateful to the network of partner universities supporting the process of replenishment of our language staff. This network assures the continuity of our multilateral system based on the sovereign equality of States.
Through this productive cooperation, we are able to ensure that all Member States and other stakeholders can fully participate in decision-making and consensus-building. This boosts the legitimacy of the United Nations.
Our collaboration helps the United Nations recruit the most skilled candidates with the right qualifications and training to serve in an ever-more-demanding environment. This cooperation also contributes to capacity-building in the countries where the partner universities are located. For these reasons, the Secretary-General fully supports this Conference.
On his behalf, I thank you and I invite you to seize wisely this unique opportunity to exchange views directly with our clients, the Member States. I thank our current language professionals, who work behind-the-scenes but make an indispensable contribution to advancing the mission of the United Nations for peace, dignity and justice for all, and I congratulate, in advance, all the winners of the St. Jerome Translation Contest.