The Study Group on Language at the United Nations
in cooperation with

The Centre for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems,
the Center for Applied Linguistics 
and Birkbeck, University of London

invites you to a symposium on

Multilingualism in International Organizations and International Co-operation

on Thursday & Friday, May 10-11, 2018
at the Church Center, 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017
First Avenue at 44th Street

Please use
our form to register for our 2018 Symposium.


Multilingualism in international co-operation entails both costs and benefits: costs because it requires mechanisms such as the selection of multilingual staff and the mediation of language professionals; benefits because, if properly managed, it includes all parties to decision-making, promotes consensus, supports programme delivery, and aids dissemination of results. Thus it favours social justice and inclusion. Increasingly, multilingualism is seen as a positive force, though it is not always recognized as such by all stakeholders.

Within the United Nations, for example, owing in particular to the scarcity of available data, advocates of multilingual language policies often face ideological, financial and administrative resistance, despite a growing recognition that multilingualism, as a core value of the UN, is a potential source of strength.

This symposium seeks to focus on, and generate interest in, these issues. Contributorscription will address the challenges of supporting multilingualism in organizations and in sites of international co-operation across different sectors (e.g. business, diplomacy, economics) and communities. Included will be theoretical and methodological studies, on the one hand, and studies addressing specific practical challenges, on the other – especially papers that focus directly on the work of the UN system or other international bodies, or research having obvious implications for their work.

Among the themes that we hope to address are the following:

  • evolving perceptions of multilingualism in international settings
  • linguistic inclusiveness in multilingual settings
  • interpretation and translation in international organizations
  • speed of decision-making vs. information loss in monolingual contexts
  • language in international peace-keeping
  • language and human/minority rights
  • the economics of language regimes
  • linguistic equity in organizations
  • inclusive communication in local and international development
  • language policy in international organizations
  • language and sustainability
  • multilingualism and NGOs



Speakers will include:

H.E. Amb. Narjess Saidane, Permanent Observer for the International Organization of La Francophonie to the United Nations

H.E. Amb. Valentin Rybakov, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Belarus to the United Nations

H.E. Amb. Michael Ten Pow, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Guyana to the United Nations

Carole Maisonneuve, Public Information and Multilingualism Coordination Officer, Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, United Nations

Joel Gómez, President and CEO, Center for Applied Linguistics

Humphrey Tonkin, Director, Centre for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems

Keynote speaker:

Michele Gazzola, Research Fellow, Humboldt University, Berlin

The economic effects of language regimes: The case of the  World Intellectual Property Organization and the European Patent Office

Papers and presentations will include:

John Edwards (St Francis Xavier University and Dalhousie University, Canada)

Language claims & language rights

Timothy Reagan (University of Maine, USA)

Sign language multilingualism: The forgotten language diversity in disempowered communities

Emma Asonye (University of Mexico), Ezinne Emma-Asonye (University of Mexico), Queenette Okwaraji (University of Rochester, USA) and Khadijah Asili (Vizionz-Sankofa)

Linguistic diversity and the language rights of the underprivileged population in Africa and

America: Towards an inclusive society in 2030

Nirvana Bhatia (Linguistic Rights Specialist)

The paper chase: A review of the UN’s recent language-rights legislation

Phindile Dlamini (University of Swaziland)

Swaziland’s dream of linguistic representation in international organisations: Will the

sociolinguistic map of the United Nations ever change?

Maneeratana Sawasdiwat Na Ayutthaya (ASEAN Center for Multilingualism, Translation & Interpretation, Thailand)

Multilingualism, translation and interpretation in the ASEAN Community

Leigh Swigart (Brandeis University, USA)

English at the International Criminal Court: Working language or default language?

Beatrice Owiti (Kenya Methodist University)

Interpretation and translation in the International Criminal Court

Lisa McEntee-Atalianis (Birkbeck, University of London, UK), Michele Gazzola and Torsten Templin (Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany)

Measuring diversity in multilingual communication

Francis M. Hult (Lund University, Sweden)

Parallel language use: A Nordic solution for multilingual organisations?

Dorte Lønsmann (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark) & Janus Mortensen (University of Copenhagen)

English only? A critical examination of the ‘natural’ status of English as a corporate language

Spencer Hazel (Newcastle University, UK), Katherine Kappa and Kamilla Kraft (University of Copenhagen)

Language policing in international organisations: Explicit and embedded orientations to

language repertoires and their impact on professional identity

Pia Decarsin (JPD Systems Translation Services)

Language policy in international organisations: Criteria and recommendations for strategic content selection for translation

Mirna Soares Andrade (Inter-American Defense College, Washington, D.C.)

Multilingualism and language services at the Inter-American Defense College

Shana Pughe Dean (Tone Translate, Utica, NY, USA))

Creating opportunity and understanding in a multicultural world on the move: Refugee resettlement agencies

Carol Benson (Teachers College, Columbia University, USA)

The importance of a multilingual habitus when assessing literacy skills in educational


Erina Iwasaki (Teachers College, Columbia University, USA)

Reframing multilingualism in terms of opportunity

Ari Sherris (Texas A & M University-Kingsville, Texas, USA) & Joy Kreeft Peyton (Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, D.C.)

The power of multilingualism and multiliteracy for languages and groups

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