6 Official Languages of UN

What are the United Nations and its Objectives? What were the First Official Languages? Which is the most widely used Official Language in the UN? What are Language Days, and how is the UN a Language Employer?
6 official languages of UN

There are various organizations set up to help people and nations to cope with their problems. But one organization renders service to all the nations and has been serving since long ago, and that is the United Nations Organizations. Various countries are its members, thereby the use of a versatile language. To overcome this issue, there are 6 official languages of UN. You will have to continue reading to find out all about the official languages of United Nations Organization.

1. Role of United Nations Organizations

6 official languages of UN 3

It is an intergovernmental (consisting of sovereign countries) organization. It was established on 24 October 1945, in San Francisco, California, United States. It is the largest organization in the world and is known across the world for its efforts in the field of peace and security. It has its headquarters in New York City. The organization has 193 member states. (See Prime Minister and President)

2. Objectives of the UN

The UN aims at disarming, decolonizing, and developing the nations. The main objectives and services rendered by the United Nations are as follows. (See Mounted Police Jobs)

3. Organs of the Organization

World Peace: 6 official languages of UN 1

The United Nations have five principal organs that were established by the United Nations Charter.

  • The Economic and Social Council,
  • The General Assembly,
  • The International Court of Justice,
  • The Security Council, and
  • The UN Secretariat. (See What are the 7 Laws of Attraction?)

4. First Official Languages of United Nations Organization

In 1946, there were only 5 official languages. They were Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. Before the selection of the 6 official languages of UN, French was selected as the working language and the UN staff communicate in French. For writing the official documents, all the five official languages were to be used. In 1948, Spanish was also added to the working languages of the General Assembly. (See What are some examples of homonyms in your language?)

5. Reason behind Choosing these Languages

There were some reasons for which only 5 languages were included in the official language list. 

  • Chinese was the most widely spoken language because of its widespread population.
  • English was included because of the reputation and position of the United States in the world
  • French was selected because it was a reputed international language of diplomacy.
  • The Russian language was added because of the dominant political behavior of Russia.
  • Spanish was chosen because at that time it was the official language of 20 countries. (See Why is Philosophy important Today?)

6. History of the 6 official languages of UN

6 official languages of UN 2

With time, more countries became member nations of the UN. Hence, there were other languages added to the list of working languages along with the addition of the 6th language. (See Cunningham Name Origin)

  • In 1968, Russian was added as the fourth working language by the General Assembly.
  • In 1969, both Russian and Spanish were included in the Security Council.
  • In 1973, the Arabic language was declared the new addition to the official and working language list for the General Assembly.
  • Also, Chinese was added to the working language list of the General Assembly.
  • In 1974, Chinese was adopted by the Security Council as its working language.
  • In 1982, the Arabic language was declared the official and working language of the entire United Nations (UN). (See In Arabic, how do you say “I love you”?)

7. Use of Languages in the UN

According to the UN website, the delegate is free to speak any of the official languages. Whatever the delegate speaks is translated in real-time into the other five official languages. However, a delegate has the right to speak in any unofficial language after he has provided the written text of his speech in one of the official languages. (See Is Bahamas part of US?)

8. Most Widely and Least Used Official Language

According to the workers, English and French are the two languages that are most widely used across the UN. Among the 6 official languages of UN, for assemblies and meetings, these two languages are mostly preferred.
Spanish is the least used language in the UN. The Spanish representatives even raised a protest in this regard in 2001. (See How Do You Say 12:30 In Spanish?)

9. Role of the United Nations Department of Global Communications (DGC)

This is a department of the United Nations Secretariat. It was founded on 13 February 1946. The main aim of this organization is to raise public awareness and support for the work done by the United Nations. It carries out strategic communication campaigns, through the media, and maintains relationships with civil society groups for this purpose. (See Why is Europe called the Peninsula of Peninsulas?)

10. Language Days of the United Nations Organization

Flag Badges of different countries.

The six days of a year are assigned as the language days for using and celebrating each specific official language of the UN. The Department of Global Communications has decided the following days will be Language Days. (Read Why Do We Celebrate Memorial Day?)

  • December 18th is Arabic Language Day.
  • April 20th is celebrated as Chinese Language Day.
  • April 23rd is celebrated as English Language Day.
  • March 20th is the French Language Day.
  • June 6th is the Russian Language Day.
  • April 23rd is Spanish Language Day. (See How Many Number of Days in a Month?)

11. Process to add New Official Language

To make any language official UN language, 193 UN members need to vote in its favor. However, the usage of English and French had left the other 4 languages merely names on the official language list. After the 6 official languages of UN, the addition of any new language would be a burden on the proposed country as it has to financially support the interpretation and translation services for its language at the UN. But at present, there are no such proposals at the UN for adding any new official language. (See Date Format UK vs US)

12. Importance of  Language in Recruiting Goals

To address the language recruitment and succession planning goals of the United Nations, the Universities Outreach Programme was established by the Department of General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM). Its main objective is to give guidance on language careers to university students. (See Why the United States is called a nation of immigrants?)

13. Job of Language Employer

The language professionals incorporate a wide range of specialized occupations like copy preparers, editors, interpreters, proofreaders, reference assistants, terminologists, translators, and verbatim reporters. Numerous language professionals are working as interpreters and translators at the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM) in New York, Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi. The UN is known to be the largest employer of language professionals in the world. (See How to Become a Tower Crane Operator?)

Now, you know about the 6 official languages of UN. You also got to know about the reasons and adjustments made to the official languages of United Nations organization. It is time to share this information with your friends or family members aspiring to a language career. (See Uses of Police Red and Blue Lights)

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