Council Working Group on Languages
05 March 2014, Geneva, Switzerland
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me welcome you to this important meeting today.
As you know, the Council Working Group on Languages was set up to ensure the effective implementation of PP Resolution 154 (Rev. Guadalajara, 2010), concerning the treatment of the six official languages on an equal footing.
ITU is highly-committed to multi-lingualism:
- Multi-lingualism is a fundamental principle of the UN system. And we take our role as a specialized agency within ‘One UN’ – and hence the six UN languages – extremely seriously.
This is more important than ever in today’s integrated world, where ICTs are a key driver for achieving broad global goals of development, poverty reduction, economic progress, climate change and much more.
- ITU has proven this commitment by its practical implementation of PP Res. 115 and 154: It was only relatively recently that the six languages were placed on an equal footing within ITU, by PP Resolution 115, yet we have shown considerable determination in effecting the transition rapidly, despite operating in a difficult – and indeed worsening – budgetary climate.
- ITU is very active in UN language service circles: ITU participates actively in high-level inter-agency and international bodies dealing with languages, and plays a leading role.
Ladies and gentlemen,
An enormous amount of practical implementation work has been accomplished in regard to languages in ITU, especially during the last two PP cycles, governed by PP Resolution 154.
The extremely rapid and successful implementation of the treatment of the six official languages on an equal footing in ITU has been recognized and commended by this group, by ITU Council and by the Plenipotentiary Conference.
Indeed, it is clear from the report of your last meeting that members of this group are highly satisfied with the work accomplished to date in many key areas mandated by Resolution 154.
This includes, in particular:
- Treatment of the six languages on an increasingly equal footing;
- Adoption and implementation of measures and principles governing interpretation and translation;
- Fundamental review of ITU language, documentation and publications services (C&P), resulting in efficiencies, synergies and economies;
- Full harmonization of staffing, working methods and tools in all six language services;
- Timely delivery of documentation, especially for conferences and meetings;
- Shorter, more focused and smarter documents;
- Successfully bridging the ‘terminology gap’ in Chinese and Russian;
- Organization of the editing function for all languages; and
- Use of ICTs to enhance the level, delivery and efficiency of language services.
Naturally, more can and must be done, both towards the general goals of further improving equality of treatment and maximizing language use, and in the specific areas you have identified for closer attention and improvement, not least:
- Bridging the terminology gap in Arabic; and
- Determining, organizing and further enhancing use of the six languages on the ITU website.
I note that these and other aspects for future consideration are duly reflected in the excellent draft report to the Council and draft revision of Resolution 154, which you have before you at today’s meeting, as well as in the contribution from the Russian Federation.
This makes me confident that, at the end of today’s meeting, we will have a clear set of objectives for further work over the coming period.
I can assure you that the secretariat as a whole remains fully committed to the use of languages to support and leverage Member States’ work and ITU’s activities and outreach.
The secretariat will continue to do its utmost:
- To help membership and the Union meet the objectives you set;
- To continue to provide a quality service while continuously enhancing efficiency; and
- To continue to report to this Council Working Group in a transparent manner, and to pay close attention to your advice and desires.
Let me therefore close by saying that we look forward to your guidance, and I wish you all a very successful meeting.