The official languages of the UN

Published 24th October 2017
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Today, the 24th October is United Nations Day!

The UN was founded in 1945 after the Second World War and strives for international peace and security. United Nations day was first celebrated in 1948 and marks the anniversary of the founding of the UN.

The official languages of the UN are – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. These languages are either the mother tongue, or second language of approximately 2.8 billion people. This also covers the official languages in over half of the World’s states.

According to the official UN website, “A delegate may speak in any of the official languages, and the speech is interpreted simultaneously into the other official languages. Most UN documents are also issued in all six official languages. At times, a delegate may choose to make a statement using a non-official language. In such cases, the delegation must provide either an interpretation or a written text of the statement in one of the official languages.”

Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish have been official languages since the organisation’s inception while Arabic was added as an official language on 18th December 1973 after a decision by the General Council. There are currently no plans to introduce a seventh official language but if there were to be a seventh, it would be likely to be one of either Portuguese, Hindi or Bengali.

Here at Lingua Translations, we love languages! Subscribe to our blog for interesting articles on all of these languages as well as hundreds more from all over the world! We can also provide interpreting and proofreading services in these languages in a variety of subject areas. If you would like a quote for any of these services, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01792 469990 or contact our Sales Department at

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The official languages of the United Nations
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