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What are the official languages of the United Nations?
The current official and working languages of the United Nations are:
Official languages are the languages in which all official United Nations documents are made available. Working languages are used for internal communications among staff. English and French are the working languages of the Secretariat. Some of the other official languages may also be working languages in the Regional Commissions.
The current languages of the United Nations are available from each body's rules of procedure (links below):
General Assembly: Rules of Procedure, Section 8, Rules 51-57
Security Council: Provisional Rules of Procedure, Chapter 8, Rules 41-47
Economic and Social Council: Rules of Procedure, Section 7, Rules 32-35
Historical Development of United Nations Languages
On 1 February 1946, General Assembly resolution 2 (I) established Chinese, French, English, Russian and Spanish as official languages, and English and French as working languages. 
On 24 June 1946, Security Council adopted its Provisional Rules of Procedure S/96, naming Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish as official languages, and English and French as working languages.
On 7 December 1948, General Assembly resolution 247 (III) resolved that Spanish should be a working language of the General Assembly.
On 11 December 1948, General Assembly resolution 262 (III) amended the Rules of Procedure and added Spanish as a working language. 
On 21 December 1968, General Assembly resolution 2479 (XXIII) decided to include Russian as a working language of the General Assembly and suggested the Security Council consider adding Russian and Spanish as working languages. 
On 22 January 1969, Security Council resolution 263 (1969) included Russian and Spanish as working languages of the Security Council.
On 18 December 1973, General Assembly resolution 3189 (XXVIII) included Chinese as a working language of the General Assembly and suggested the Security Council consider adding Chinese as a working language.
On 18 December 1973, General Assembly resolution 3190 (XXVIII) decided to include Arabic as an official language and a working language of the General Assembly and its Main Committees.
On 17 January 1974, Security Council resolution 345 (1974) decided to include Chinese as a working language of the Security Council. 
On 17 December 1980, General Assembly resolution 35/219 A decided to include Arabic as an official and working language of the subsidiary organs of the General Assembly and requested the Security Council and Economic and Social Council also include Arabic by 1 January 1983.
On 15 April 1982, Economic and Social Council decision 1982/147, found in Resolutions and decisions of the Economic and Social Council 1st regular session of 1982, E/1982/82, page 48, included Arabic among its official languages.
On 21 December 1982, Security Council resolution 528 (1982) included Arabic as an official and working language of the Security Council.
Language specific timeline
Arabic:
Chinese: 
English: 
French: 
Russian: 
Spanish: 
Links & Files
  General Assembly Rules of Procedure
  Security Council Provisional Rules of Procedure
  ECOSOC Rules of Procedure
UN documentsSecretariat
Oct 14, 2019    178406
Disclaimer: answers are prepared by library staff using resources available at the time of writing. This site may include links and references to third-party databases, websites, books and articles, this does not imply endorsement by the United Nations.
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