Multilingualism

Coordinator for Multilingualism

On 17 December 2015, the United Nations Secretary-General appointed Catherine Pollard of Guyana, Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management, as Coordinator for Multilingualism, in implementation of General Assembly resolution 69/250. In this role, Ms. Pollard is responsible for coordinating the overall implementation of multilingualism Secretariat-wide.

The terms of reference of the Coordinator, detailed in report A/71/757, were endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 71/328 on multilingualism.

The Coordinator is expected:

  • to act as the entry point for concerns and queries from Member States and Secretariat entities;
  • to serve as a facilitator to attain a coordinated, consistent and coherent approach to multilingualism in the Secretariat; and
  • to inspire all departments and offices by initiating and proposing innovative solutions to foster an organizational culture conducive to multilingualism.

UN and Multilingualism

An essential factor in harmonious communication among peoples, multilingualism is of particular importance to the United Nations. By promoting tolerance, multilingualism ensures effective and increased participation of all in the Organization’s work, as well as greater effectiveness, better outcomes and more involvement.

Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish are the six official languages of the United Nations. English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat and are used in day-to-day professional exchanges.

The balance among the six official languages has been an ongoing concern of the Secretary-General. Numerous activities have been undertaken, from 1946 to the present, to promote the use of the official languages to ensure that the United Nations, its goals and actions are understood by the widest possible public.

The mission of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM) is to provide high quality meeting and documentation services to all Member States in New York, Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi, and wherever international conferences and meetings are held by the United Nations, in the official languages of the Organization. DGACM plays a key role in fostering multilingual dialogue and cooperation among United Nations Member States, international organizations, intergovernmental bodies, and civil society.

In collaboration with DGACM, the Department of Public Information -- which strives to promote global awareness and understanding of the work of the United Nations through media such as radio, television, Internet and print -- will continue to make every effort to comply with the highest standards of multilingualism, and to raise the public profile of the United Nations as a multilingual organization.