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UN language staff in numbers

The United Nations is one of the world's largest employers of language professionals. Several hundred such staff work for the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM) in New York, Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi, or at the United Nations regional commissions in Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Beirut, Geneva and Santiago.

What do we mean by “language professionals”?

At the UN, the term “language professional” covers a wide range of specialists, such as interpreters, translators, editors, verbatim reporters, terminologists, reference assistants and copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors.

What do we mean by “main language”?

At the UN, “main language” generally refers to the language of an individual's higher education. For linguists outside the UN, on the other hand, “main language” is usually taken to mean the “target language” into which an individual works.

How are UN language professionals recruited?

The main recruitment path for UN language professionals is the Language Competitive Examination (LCE). Candidates who pass LCEs are placed on rosters for recruitment and are hired as and when job vacancies arise. Nationality/citizenship is not a consideration. Candidates are judged solely on their academic and other qualifications and test performance.

What kind of background do UN language professionals need?

Our recruits do not all have a background in languages. Some have a background in other fields, including journalism, law, economics and even engineering or medicine. These are of great benefit to the UN, which deals with a large variety of subjects.

Why does DGACM have an outreach programme?

Finding the right profile of candidate for UN language posts is challenging, especially for certain language combinations. The UN is not the only international organization looking for skilled language professionals, and it deals with a wide variety of subjects, often politically sensitive. Its language staff must meet high quality and productivity standards. This is why DGACMhas had an outreach programme focusing on collaboration with universities since 2007. The Department hopes to build on existing partnerships, forge new partnerships, and attract the qualified staff it needs to continue providing quality conference services at the UN.