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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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    Language courses in the six official languagues (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) are offered to promote linguistic balance within the Secretariat and to improve the language capabilities of course participants working in a multicultural and multilingual environment. The purpose of these courses is to provide staff members with the opportunity to achieve proficiency in the official languages.

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