SG on multilingualism—a core value of the United Nations

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

New York | DGACM

The biennial Secretary-General’s report on multilingualism, which was published earlier this year, is now being considered by the Member States.

"I care deeply about multilingualism, a core value of the United Nations," said Secretary-General António Guterres about the report. "Multilingualism helps guarantee the effectiveness of our multilateral system."

The report’s drafting process was coordinated by Catherine Pollard, Head of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, in her capacity as Secretariat-wide Coordinator for Multilingualism. It provides an update on the implementation  of the past resolutions on multilingualism and gives an overview of the various initiatives taken Secretariat-wide over the reporting period.

Such initiatives aim at inducing an organizational culture change in the UN Secretariat resulting in mainstreaming multilingualism, as a core value of the Organization, in the activities of the Secretariat.

The report spells out the terms of reference for the role of Coordinator, which will clarify the roles – and expectations – of the respective stakeholders. It comes with supplementary information presenting the main responsibilities of the focal points for multilingualism supporting the work of the Coordinator and statistical data, which along with a non-paper (published on iSeek), gives a full overview of the activities carried out by the Secretariat over the reporting period.

”Multilingualism is a prerequisite to success in all areas of work of the Secretariat,” said Under-Secretary-General Pollard.

One of the main tasks assigned to the Coordinator for Multilingualism is to develop a coherent Secretariat-wide approach to multilingualism. This will involve initiatives on several fronts, including human resources management. The report addresses language requirements in job openings, language assessments as part of the staff selection process, language incentives, language learning, and more.

All departments will also seek to build an inventory of staff language skills with the ultimate objective that such skills are used effectively to benefit the Organization.

For more information about past and future activities of the Secretariat in this area, please consult the latest report, its supplementary information and the non-paper  by the Coordinator.

Check out the Secretary-General's video message on multilingualism (below) and the video entitled Multilingualism and the United Nations.