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Adopting Resolution on Multilingualism, General Assembly Emphasizes Importance of Equality among Six Official United Nations Languages

Sixty-fifth General Assembly


109th Meeting (AM)

Adopting Resolution on Multilingualism, General Assembly Emphasizes Importance


of Equality among Six Official United Nations Languages


Also Passed: Texts on Happiness, Peacekeeping, Tenure of Tribunal Judges

Emphasizing the paramount importance of equality among the six official United Nations languages, the General Assembly today adopted a wide-ranging draft resolution on multilingualism.

By that text, one of five adopted without a vote, the Assembly took note of the Secretary-General’s October 2010 report on multilingualism, and emphasized the need to use all the official languages appropriately in the activities of the Department of Public Information, thus eliminating the disparity between the use of English and the other five.

The Assembly asked the Secretary-General to ensure that all the official languages were given equally favourable working conditions and resources, and called upon him to continue developing the informal network of focal points to support his activities relating to multilingualism, as well as to continue multilingual communication among representatives of Member States in intergovernmental organs and members of United Nations expert bodies.

Noting with concern that the multilingual development and enrichment of the Organization’s website — an essential tool for Member States, the media, educational institutions, the public and non-governmental organizations — had improved at a much slower rate than expected, the Assembly asked the Department of Public Information to improve steps to achieve language parity on the site, particularly by more speedily filling vacant posts in some sections.

Further by that text, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to complete the task of uploading, on a priority basis, all important older United Nations documents in all six official languages, and to strengthen his efforts to develop and maintain a multilingual United Nations website.  It urged the Secretariat to keep iSeek up to date in the Organization’s two working languages, and to translate all peacekeeping training documents into the six official languages, within existing resources, to ensure that all Member States could use them.

Abdou Salam Diallo (Senegal), who introduced the text, said multilingualism was the Organization’s strength, and equitable treatment of its six official languages would contribute to better cooperation and partnership among all stakeholders, while giving Member States a chance to explain their positions in their chosen language.

Adopting a second draft resolution, titled “Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development”, the Assembly invited Member States to pursue public policy steps that would better capture the importance of pursuing happiness and well-being in development.  It also welcomed Bhutan’s offer to hold a panel discussion on the theme during the Assembly’s upcoming sixty-sixth session.

Reading out an oral statement on the financial implications of the text, a Secretariat official said it would cost $52,300 in 2012 to translate into and issue in all six official languages the Secretary-General’s estimated 8,500-word report on the pursuit of happiness, which he had been requested to present at the Assembly’s sixty-seventh session.

Presenting the text earlier, Lhatu Wangchuk (Bhutan) said it had been inspired by the increasing number of thinkers, economists and political leaders seeking ways to make development more sustainable, humane and holistic.  Several Member States had taken steps to develop happiness and well-being indicators, he noted.  “The search for happiness is a serious matter and we feel that the time for its discussion at the United Nations should not be delayed.”

In other action, the Assembly adopted a draft resolution submitted by its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) titled “Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects”.  By that text, it endorsed the proposals, recommendations and conclusions contained in paragraphs 15 to 278 of the report of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations on its 2011 substantive session.  The Assembly urged Member States, the Secretariat and relevant United Nations organs to take all necessary steps to implement them.

In addition, the Assembly adopted a draft decision by which it decided to extend until 31 December 2012, or until the completion of their assigned cases, the terms of office of eight permanent and eight ad litem Trial Chamber judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.  It also reiterated its call upon all States, especially those of the former Yugoslavia, to intensify cooperation with, and render all necessary assistance to, the Tribunal, while particularly calling for the arrest of Goran Hadžic.

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For information media. Not an official record.