The United Nations on Monday launched a contest, asking college and university students across the world to write an essay in one of its six official languages on the role of multilingualism in a globalized world.
The contest, "Many Languages, One World," supports international education and multilingualism through the continued study of Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
It was launched on Monday at UN Headquarters in New York with a signing ceremony between the UN Department of Public Information and the ELS Educational Services.
"Our collaboration focuses on two of the priorities of the secretary-general, one being youth and the other multiculturalism, and this is a wonderful way of bringing those two together," said Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, UN under-secretary-general for communications and public information following the signing ceremony launching the contest.
The senior UN official signed on behalf of the UN Academic Impact (UNAI), which is co-organizing the event as part of its commitment to multilingual education, with ELS.
"Through this event, we hope to focus a light on the role of the UN," said Mark Harris, CEO and president of ELS.
"The role of the UN is the role of every global citizen, which is to make peace and to look at ways to enhance the qualities of life, health and spiritual fulfillment of peoples around the world through common understanding and through language," Harris added.
To qualify, the student's native language has to be different from the one in which he or she writes, and different from the principal one at the school.
A panel of international judges, to be invited by the UNAI and ELS Educational Services, will select 10 top winners in each language category who will be invited to New York by ELS to participate in a series of events in June 2014.
These events will include a youth forum on global citizenship and the nine other principles of UNAI at UN Headquarters on June 27, 2014, ahead of the 70th anniversary of the UN Charter. The forum will be preceded by a preparatory students'conference at Adelphi University on Long Island, the U.S. state of New York.
"I think it's an excellent project," said Ambassador Lyutha Sultan Al-Mughairy, chairperson of the Committee on Information, a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly. The ambassador, who represents Oman, noted that the contest is "good encouragement" for multilingual study.