General Assembly: 82nd Plenary Meeting, 76th Session

Preview Language:   Six Official
10-Jun-2022 02:42:04
Highlighting strong link between multilingualism, Multilateralism, General Assembly adopts resolution urging parity among United Nations six official languages.

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Delegates Also Conclude Debates on Use of Veto in Security Council, Progress towards Implementing HIV/AIDS Political Declarations, Commitments

Spotlighting the strong connection between multilingualism and multilateralism, delegates in the General Assembly today adopted a resolution reaffirming the equality of the six official languages of the United Nations and urging the Organization to ensure parity among them in its communications and publications.

Adopted without a vote, the text, titled “Multilingualism”, requested the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to ensure that multilingualism is not undermined by the measures taken in response to the liquidity situation and the coronavirus disease. Further, it regretted the delays in the development of a Secretariat-wide coherent policy framework on multilingualism.

Other terms of that resolution emphasized the importance of making use of all the official languages of the United Nations in all the activities of the Department of Global Communications, with the aim of eliminating the disparity between the use of English and the five other official languages. It also urged the Secretary-General to strengthen efforts to develop and maintain United Nations websites in all the official languages. Further, it requested continued efforts to ensure the availability of staff training opportunities in the six official languages.

Introducing that text, the representative of Andorra said it celebrates the role of multilingualism as an enabler of multilateral diplomacy. Stressing that the value must be respected during crisis situations, she noted that the text, which sets goals for an operational plan of action in the Department of Global Communications, aims to eliminate the gap between the use of English and the five other official United Nations languages.

Echoing those words, the representative of Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Spanish, voiced concern that despite repeated appeals, the Organization has not achieved linguistic parity among the six official languages. Given that it has been more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, he called for the full implementation of interpretation and translation services across all intergovernmental meetings, and original content in the six official languages across the Organization’s websites and social media accounts.

Several delegates pointed to the role of languages as repositories of culture, with Morocco’s delegate reminding the Assembly that languages are not just means of communication — they are also archives of culture and history. Welcoming the appointment of a Coordinator of Multilingualism, he urged the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management as well as the Department of Global Communications to ensure linguistic parity in their virtual meeting tools.

Highlighting the large number of languages that are on the verge of extinction, the representative of Bangladesh called on the international community to work together to preserve languages around the world. As much as 40 per cent of the world’s population does not have access to education in a language they can understand. Her country works to promote education in its main five tribal languages, she said, emphasizing the relationship between language and heritage.

Delegates also concluded a historic debate on the use of veto in the Council, the first ever implementation of a 26 April Assembly resolution which established a standing mandate for a debate in the 193-member organ when a veto is cast in the 15-member body by one or more of its permanent members.

The current debate, which began on 8 June, was triggered after China and the Russian Federation vetoed a Council draft resolution on 26 May aimed at tightening the sanctions regime against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The representative of Lithuania noted that the draft was unsuccessful even though it was supported by 13 Council members, and was building on the earlier unanimous agreement to impose further sanctions should there be more provocations from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

However, Venezuela’s delegate, stressing that sanctions are not solutions and drawing attention to the joint military exercises by the United States and the Republic of Korea in the Korean Peninsula, recalled the explanations provided by China and the Russian Federation regarding their vetoes. Libya’s delegate, highlighting the double standards in the denuclearization agenda as well as use of veto, noted that the Council is endangering international peace instead of guaranteeing it. “Don’t be surprised that peoples want to reform the Council,” he said.

Finally, the Assembly turned to the implementation of the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the 2021 Political Declaration on ending AIDS by 2030, with delegates reaffirming commitment to this health goal. Armenia’s delegate shared his country’s experience with decentralizing the battle against AIDS by integrating HIV services with primary health care. However, in order to deliver more targeted interventions, the country needs increased investments, he noted.

A representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) offered Member States useful recommendations that ranged from placing communities and local organizations at the centre of HIV/AIDS strategies to bolstering social protection and public health systems. He also stressed the importance of reaching people on the move, including in humanitarian and fragile contexts.

Prior to the general debate, the Assembly elected 18 members to the Economic and Social Council to replace those whose terms are expiring on 31 December 2022. First, it elected Liechtenstein to fill the seat for Western European and other States, relinquished by Austria. Next, in one round of voting, it elected Botswana, Cabo Verde, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea for African States; China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Qatar and Republic of Korea for Asia-Pacific States; Brazil, Colombia and Costa Rica for Latin American and Caribbean States; and Denmark, Greece, New Zealand and Sweden for Western European and other States. It also elected Slovakia and Slovenia for Eastern European States in one round of voting, but was unable to fill a third seat earmarked for that region, despite conducting six rounds of voting, because neither North Macedonia nor the Russian Federation attained two-thirds majority. Further voting for that seat will take place at a later date. All terms of office will begin on 1 January 2023 and end on 31 December 2023.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Colombia, India, Canada, El Salvador, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Philippines, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, Ukraine, Hungary, Viet Nam, Kenya, Israel, Portugal, United Arab Emirates, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Belarus, Samoa, Cambodia, Honduras, Slovakia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Cuba, Bahrain, Spain, Tunisia, Lebanon, Bolivia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Russian Federation and Iran, as well as a representative of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

The representatives of Iran, Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke in the exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 21 June, to consider the interaction between the United Nations, national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

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