49th Plenary Meeting of General Assembly: 50th Session

Preview Language:   English
02-Nov-1995 01:00:30
General Assembly requests Secretary-General ensure personnel recruited by Organization have command of at least one working language at the 49th plenary meeting of the 50th session.

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The General Assembly this afternoon requested the Secretary-General to ensure that personnel recruited by the Organization would have a command of at least one of the United Nations working languages, or -- in the case of staff members who were going to work for another body of the Organization for two years or less -- the personnel should have a command of one of the working languages of that other body. That resolution was the subject of five votes over the course of two days.

The amended resolution as a whole was adopted by a vote of 100 in favour to 35 against, with 29 abstentions. (For details of the voting, see Annex IV.)

The Secretary-General was also requested to ensure that the use of another of the six official languages of the Secretariat was duly encouraged and taken into account, particularly when promotions and incremental steps were under consideration. The resolution also urged the delegations of Member States and the Secretariat to endeavour to avoid holding internal meetings without interpretation. The Assembly stressed the need to ensure that the necessary resources were available to guarantee the proper and timely translation of documents into the official and working languages.

That adoption followed the rejection of two amendments, proposed by Malaysia and Japan, respectively, and the incorporation of amendments proposed by Australia. The former two would have referred to the difficulties faced by personnel whose mother tongue was not one of the Organization's official languages. Under the terms of the Australian amendment, which was adopted without a vote, it was stated that, for the Economic and Social Council, the working languages would be English, French and Spanish. Further, it stated that the appointment of the staff of the Organization should be carried out strictly in accordance with the Charter.

The amendment proposed by Malaysia was defeated by a vote of 88 against to 37 in favour, with 28 abstentions. (See Annex I.) The amendment proposed by Japan was defeated by a vote of 93 against to 26 in favour, with 37 abstentions. (See Annex II.)

Another vote was held on the resolution's provisions relating to recruitment of personnel. That provision was retained by a vote of 97 in favour to 36 against, with 29 abstentions (See Annex III). [The Assembly yesterday voted to defeat a motion to adjourn the debate on the item to a later date, thus paving the way for today's action.]

In explanation of vote, several countries said more time should have been devoted to consultations in order to reach consensus on the resolution. The representative of France, as a co-sponsor of the draft, said that the co- sponsors had showed great understanding of concerns expressed by other States.

The representative of Mexico said the objective of the resolution was very simple, centering on effectively using the official and working languages of the Organization. It was a question of restoring a healthy balance in the use of all of those languages.

The representative of Swaziland asked why the Assembly was not spending time on global issues that were more problematic than on which languages were to be used for recruiting members of the Secretariat. Were Africans to be reminded of the time when those official languages had been imposed on them by nations who had sought to divide them? The United Nations should not be seen to be playing the role of the colonizer among the developing nations, he said.

Other statements were made by the United States, Malaysia, Finland, Spain, Argentina, Cote d'Ivoire, Sudan, Thailand, Mexico, New Zealand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Croatia and Uganda.

The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 6 November, to consider the issue of building a better and more peaceful world through sport and the Olympic ideal.

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