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The United Nations 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 (resolution 2 (I) of 1 February 1946).


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    The United Nations Office at Geneva is fully committed to supporting multilingualism. The Office continues to make strides to meet the expanding meeting and documentation requests for all human rights bodies, the United Conference on Trade and Development, and the Economic Commission for Europe.

    It has made significant progress in enhancing the efficiency of its translation services. This has been accomplished through a far-reaching training strategy and promotion of the use of translation technology among translators in coordination with New York Headquarters, the United Nations Office in Vienna and other international organizations.

    A major achievement for the United Nations Office at Geneva was the adoption of UNOGTerm, a multilingual terminology management system. As a result, nearly 150 terminology files in official languages were merged and restructured, making it possible to conduct searches on the UNTERM portal, a common one-stop terminology platform centrally managed at Headquarters.

    UNOG has been celebrating language days since 2010 following the launch of the Language Days at the United Nations initiative. Round tables on multilingualism (see below) have been organized each year. The Office also provides language support to human rights missions or fields visits.

    The Director-General of UNOG has designated the Director of the Division of Conference Management, Ms. Corinne Momal-Vanian as Focal Point for issues related to multilingualism in UNOG. The Chief of the Interpretation Service, Division of Conference Management, Ms. Marie Diur, has been appointed Alternate Focal Point.

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