We are currently moving our web services and information to Canada.ca.

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat website will remain available until this move is complete.

Chairing Meetings


I am very pleased to introduce this third edition of the guide on chairing bilingual meetings.

The guide is intended for federal Public Service employees who, in bilingual regions, have to chair meetings involving both English-speaking and French-speaking employees.

As you know, in 1988 the Parliament of Canada adopted a new Official Languages Act. This Act, among other things, gives force of law to several policies already adopted over the years by federal institutions. In the area of language of work, for instance, federal institutions now have the duty to ensure that work environments are conducive to the effective use of both official languages and accommodate the use of either language by officers and employees.

This provision applies to those offices located in the four regions prescribed in the Act: The National Capital Region; parts of Quebec, including the Montreal region; northern and eastern Ontario; and New Brunswick. These are the regions, in fact, where English and French are commonly spoken.

The federal government's policy on the use of official languages in bilingual regions stipulates that where English-speaking and French-speaking employees participate in meetings together, every effort must be made to ensure that the discussions can be held in both official languages, without constraint, at the choice of the participants.

Meetings are a particularly important forum for communicating. Each participant must feel perfectly free to participate, using either English or French or both in the same meeting, according to the individual's choice.

In these regions, although much progress has been made, the choice of language at meetings is still often the result of the circumstances in which the meeting is held rather than the participants' actual linguistic preferences. Accordingly, we expect those who chair meetings to exercise whatever leadership is necessary to ensure the equality of status of English and French at meetings.

I trust that this guide will help you to better understand the importance of your management role in the creation of a work environment open to both official languages and that it will enable you to chair your bilingual meetings with even more conviction and skill.

I. D. Clark

Secretary of the Treasury Board


This Guide presents the basic tools needed to chair bilingual meetings in a professional manner.

No matter how much experience you have in leading bilingual meetings, or how successful you have been in the past, this Guide will help you to chair them even more confidently, more skilfully and, all in all, more easily. Good intentions are not enough. They are necessary, of course, but they must be accompanied by strategies and techniques appropriate to the situation and the objectives sought.

Good intentions are not enough

The guide reflects the experience of experts in the art of chairing meetings in both official languages. It is being published to suggest ways to help you create in your meetings an atmosphere in which participants will feel truly free to use their preferred official language.

In this context, the Treasury Board Secretariat produced a video in 1990 entitled "First item - Premier point" in which Deputy Ministers and senior executives from different organizations give their views both on the conduct of bilingual meetings and on other aspects of bilingualism in the workplace. This video is available in all federal institutions.

For any questions about this Guide, consult your institution's Official Languages Branch, or the Treasury Board Secretariat's Official Languages Policy Interpretation Service.

Happy reading, and good luck in your meetings!

Techniques for all Types of Bilingual Meetings

Before the meeting

To chair a meeting successfully in both official languages, you must consider bilingualism from the moment you start preparing for the meeting. Nothing must be left to chance.

Letter of invitation

Send each participant's invitation in his or her first official language, or use a bilingual letter.

The participants will not assume that the meeting will be bilingual simply because the letter of invitation is bilingual.

Note that the participants will not assume that the meeting will be bilingual simply because the letter of invitation is bilingual. You must say so in the letter! Also state what arrangements have been made for unilingual participants, if any, to follow the discussions.

The agenda

Generally speaking, the agenda must be prepared in both official languages, but how this is done will depend on the type of meeting. The chair can choose any one of the following procedures:

  • If the meeting is fairly important or official in nature, prepare the agenda in both official languages.
  • For regular division meetings and the like, prepare the agenda in English for one meeting, in French for the next, and so on.
  • For regular unit or section meetings, prepare some agenda items in English and some in French, with a fair balance between the two.

It is sometimes a good idea to also state on the agenda that the meeting will be held in both official languages, and to indicate what arrangements have been made for unilinguals to take part in the discussions.


Documents used in bilingual meetings must normally be made available in both official languages. However, depending on the circumstances and the type of meeting, one of the following procedures can be used:

  • See that all documents that already exist in both official languages are distributed in both languages.
  • Encourage authors of working papers to prepare them in their first official language. Do the same for drafts of important documents that will be produced in both official languages in final form, if their distribution justifies it. That will help create a truly bilingual environment in your organization.
  • Translate drafts to be sent to several departments for comment.
  • Hand out bilingual glossaries relating to the subjects to be discussed. The participants can use them to familiarize themselves with the key words and the acronyms most frequently used in discussions. If necessary, contact the Terminology Directorate of the Secretary of State Department's Translation Bureau for help.

Secretarial services for the meeting

A major factor in organizing a successful bilingual meeting is the ability of the responsible secretary to function in both official languages: it is the secretary who establishes the bilingual environment for the meeting. The chair should therefore:

  • designate a secretary who can discuss, in both official languages, the items on the agenda, the preparation of the supporting documents and the follow-up to the meeting;
  • tell the secretary what official languages objectives are to be achieved so that he or she can take them into account when dealing with the participants;
  • if a functionally bilingual secretary is not available, appoint two secretaries, one to handle questions in English and the other questions in French.

One chair or two co-chairs

Once you have set up your secretariat you might ask yourself whether you are comfortable enough in your second language to chair the bilingual meeting. Being at ease does not mean being able to speak your second language without an accent and without structural or grammatical errors. But is does mean being able to understand the participants well and to take part in the discussions fairly easily, while being aware of your limitations.

Being at ease does not mean being able to speak your second language without an accent and without structural or grammatical errors.

If you are asked to chair a bilingual meeting, and wonder whether you will be able to do it, consider these points:

  • If your only problem is stage fright, dive right in - you will probably be successful.
  • If you are not comfortable in your second language, however, you can either force yourself to chair the meeting anyway, or you can pick a co-chairperson to help you, especially if this is your first meeting. If you decide on the latter course, choose someone who has the necessary knowledge and the appropriate level of authority, or the group may doubt your commitment to your specific language-of-work objective. Explain your expectations clearly to your chosen co-chair.
  • If you are not at all comfortable in your second language, and it is not possible to have a co-chair, refer to the section on unilingualism on page 14.

Bridging the language gap

Unless you wish to play the role of linguistic link yourself, assign someone to summarize the essential elements of the discussion for time to time during the meeting for the benefit of unilingual participants. Carrying out this function well is very important but far from easy. It requires not only good linguistic ability but also judgment in making concise summaries of proceedings - qualities that are not always found in a single individual.

Given the tenacity of old work habits, resistance to change can come from both the majority and the minority language groups.

Choose the person carefully; then discuss your expectations with the one selected and explain that only the major points and decisions that concern the unilingual participants directly are to be summarized.

If necessary, designate two different persons, one to summarize into French, the other into English. If the nature of the meeting requires it, you can call on professional interpreters.

The contribution of participants

Given the tenacity of old work habits, resistance to change can come from both the majority and the minority language groups. To create a climate conducive to the free use of both official languages in meetings, the chair can, where the context is suitable, make arrangements such as the following:

  • Suggest to some members of the minority language group that they participate in the discussions, or make all or part of their presentations in their first official language.
  • Suggest to a few members of the majority language group that they speak in the other language occasionally during the meeting.

In both cases, choose the people who are likely to have the greatest positive influence on the group. Their behaviour will serve as an example and encourage the other participants. However, you should ensure that their contributions are not confined to trivial subjects and that all participants fully understand that the goal is to create an atmosphere conducive to the free use of both official languages.

Visual reinforcement

It is very important that as soon as participants enter the conference room, they receive visual confirmation that the institution supports and encourages the holding of meetings in both official languages.

Federal institutions are therefore strongly encouraged to have their policy on bilingual meetings permanently posted in their conference rooms.

They may also find it useful to place small signs on the tables inviting the participants to feel free to use either official language.

This will show the participants that the meeting is bilingual because of the institution's official policy, not just by virtue of your own initiative.

During the Meeting

The most interesting and decisive phase begins when the participants arrive.

Opening the meeting

It is your responsibility as the chair to convey to the participants that the meeting is to be bilingual, and that each person is free to speak in either official language. To do that you can choose from several ways of proceeding.

The responsibility for breaking the ice is yours. Use both official languages from the time the meeting begins, and invite the participants to feel free to use their preferred official language.

If you cannot do this, and if you have a co-chair, call on that person, and make it clear that he or she has your support. If you do not have a co-chair see the section on unilingualism on page 14.

If you think it would be useful to you or to the group, mention your own level of fluency in the second language. If, for example, you cannot speak your second language with ease, tell them so, but still keep using it.

If you have only a "receptive" knowledge of your second language - that is, you can follow the discussion in that language but cannot participate - say so, and add that you will rely on your co-chair for help as needed. However, in that case make it very clear that you do not want your inability to speak your second language to discourage the participants from using that language when they address you or speak to each other.

The presence of unilinguals is not to prevent anyone from using his or her first official language.

Ask the participants whether they understand both official languages. If any do not, tell them that they will be given short summaries in their first official language of the discussions and decisions that concern them, and of any information that is of particular interest to them. Introduce the person who has agreed to carry out this role.

However, remind the participants that the presence of unilinguals is not to prevent anyone from using his or her first official language.

It is important that from the start of the meeting you are able to create an atmosphere in which all participants feel that their rights are being respected, and are free to use their official language. The presence of one or more unilingual persons should not create an obstacle to holding bilingual meetings.

Avoid placing all the onus for bilingualism on the participants from the less well represented language group, for example by suggesting that the meeting be held in one language only. Use of both official languages is not optional, nor can it be put to a vote!

When members of both official language groups participate in a meeting, no question should be considered so urgent or so important that discussion in both official languages is impossible. Otherwise, our meetings would probably always be held in just one language!

Presentations and discussions

Once the meeting is under way, do not lose sight of your objective in the heat of the discussion. Be flexible and tolerant but do not allow the group to fall back into its old ways. Provide discreet but effective leadership to encourage change by ensuring that the atmosphere of the meeting will truly enable the participants from both language groups to use their preferred official language freely. The following techniques can enable you to create the conditions necessary for free use of both official languages:


If you are able, switch from one official language to the other during the meeting. This will help the participants fell free to use either official language.

Assistance of participants

If you feel that the group is reverting to a way of functioning that suggests that only one language is authorized and considered worthwhile, call on the participants who agreed to support you before the meeting. Have them speak in the language they agreed to use then by addressing them in that language.

Immediate positive reinforcement

Speak in the official language that is used less often during the meeting.

Sometimes address those who seldom or never use their first official language in that language.

Encourage those who speak in the language of the minority group by continuing in the same language.

Receptive bilingualism

People who understand their second language but are not able to express themselves in that language can also be helpful. Help them feel relaxed enough that they can play a positive role in their openness to bilingualism, and can find an opportunity in these meetings to use their second language.

Switch from one official language to the other during the meeting.

Remind the participants that when people respond in their first language to a question put to them in their second language, it does not necessarily mean that they want to be addressed in their first language. The dialogue can continue in this bilingual format, with each person using his or her first official language.

Continuing efforts

Suppose you have given all the necessary explanations and assurances, but you still sense that the group is not fully behind you. Be patient and persevere. Institutional change cannot be rushed, but it can be encouraged.

Participants will have had different experiences and may not be as willing to change as you are.

In the past, employees have often found that announcements of bilingual meetings, and invitations to participate in these meetings in both official languages, did little to change the behaviour of the group. The chair was frequently ill-prepared to assume this responsibility, and so could not always bring about real change. The result was that meetings continued to take place in one language only.

Be aware of these problems. Try not to be overly eager, especially during the first meetings. But don't give up!

Institutional change cannot be rushed, but it can be encouraged.

The purpose of this Guide is not to force the participants to behave in a way they do not want to behave. Its goal is to help remove the systemic and psychological barriers that can hamper the use of both official languages in meetings and to set out the key elements you will need in order to establish a work environment conducive to the use of the two languages in meetings.

Closing the Meeting

When the meeting is about to end you can proceed to the following:

Written communications

Tell the participants that they may prepare all documents in their first official language, whether in draft or in final form.

Planning for translation

Determine, on the basis of a real need, which documents are to be translated and when.


If you want to make progress in the area, discreetly try to find out what some of the participants think of the way you chaired the meeting and of their own performance in using both official languages. Make a note of the methods that gave good results or turned out to be inappropriate, as well as of any suggestions or criticisms made.

Keep at it

Don't feel that you have failed if your first meetings do not go the way to want: keep trying!

After the Meeting

All follow-up to the meeting should reflect its bilingual nature. You, as chair, must ensure that these steps are taken.


Minutes should normally be prepared in both official languages. However, depending on the circumstances (for example, if all the participants are bilingual), chairpersons can use one of the following formats:

  • Prepare the minutes of a series of meetings all in English one time and all in French the next. This will help the participants improve their knowledge of their second language and facilitate preparation of the minutes.
  • Prepare part of the minutes in English and the rest in French.


You can team up anglophone and francophone employees to produce short bilingual documents, like minutes, without resorting to translation.

You can also call on your department's writing assistance and editing service if it has one.


It may be wise to tell participants who support your efforts in meetings that you appreciate their contribution. This will encourage them, reinforce their behaviour and have a positive influence on the other members of the group.

Special Techniques for Certain Types of Meetings

Your techniques, approach and behaviour will vary according to the type of meeting you are chairing. An interdepartmental meeting is not chaired in exactly the same way as a unit meeting.

This section presents some of the special features associated with certain types of meetings which we could not deal with in the preceding general discussion.

Interdepartmental meetings

Interdepartmental meetings should adhere closely to bilingualism requirements. The chairing of the meeting (by one person or two) must be bilingual enough to keep the meeting moving steadily. The use of both official languages should be a positive element in the meeting, leading to better participation and better communication.

Depending on the number of participants and the nature of the meeting, you could call on someone to play the role of linguistic link to summarize proceedings for the unilinguals, or you could call in professional interpreters.

In certain circumstances, when you call a meeting, the invitation could indicate that participants will be free to use their preferred official language and that there will be no interpretation service. It will then be up to the invited organizations to take this into account in choosing their representatives. In this case, the documents can be in either official language.

Branch or interbranch meetings within a department

In general, the chair would handle these meetings in the same way as interdepartmental ones. What happens at this level will serve as an example for the other levels of your department or agency. Participants should be invited and encouraged to make their presentations in their first official language.

Bilingualism should be a positive element in the meeting, leading to better communication.

If the presentations and discussions are likely to last for a long time (as in information meetings), and the number of participants from both language groups is large enough, it may be appropriate to call two separate meetings, one in English and the other in French. Bilingual employees who seldom have the opportunity to use their second language can then be invited to attend the meeting in their second language.

In some cases it may be useful to have simultaneous interpretation.

Meeting with a task force

Sometimes a task force is set up in a branch with a mandate to discuss a question with other branches.

It is essential that the branch responsible for the task force ensure that it has the bilingual capacity required to hold its meetings in both official languages. This should be kept in mind in choosing the outside specialists.

Division or section meetings

You can approach division or section meetings in a less formal manner given the smaller number of participants, their greater familiarity with each other and their common work routine. Why not establish objectives for yourself and evaluate your progress?

Defining the goals

As chairperson, you may find it appropriate to define with your group the language of work goals to be attained. Each member will then be personally committed to the endeavour, and it will be easier for you to evaluate your group's progress. For example, you can propose (without making it an obligation) that the group increase its use of one of the languages, and then work together to achieve that goal. When there are only a few members of the minority group, be particularly careful that the group target takes into account their legitimate expectations.

An example, depending on the level of bilingualism of your group, you might decide to achieve your target by discussing in French the items appearing on the agenda in French, and discussing in English the items appearing in English.

Evaluating progress

To help you track the group's progress toward its goal, you might also find it useful to designate one of the participants, or a person from outside the group, to act as an observer at your meetings. After a meeting, this person would report to the group on what he or she has noted about the group's use of the official languages (strong points and weak points). You could then discuss these comments with your group.

A few months later, you might wish to review with your group the perceptions they had at the beginning, and see, by their attitudes and behaviour, whether things have improved or deteriorated.

If the behaviour and attitude of some of the participants do not seem to be helping to create an atmosphere conducive to the use of both official languages, discuss this with them after a meeting. There may be good reasons for their behaviour, even if it is only old work habits (leaving them unaccustomed to thinking, discussing and working bilingually with their colleagues) or an insufficient grasp of technical vocabulary. Ask them how you can help.

Meetings with simultaneous interpretation

Simultaneous interpretation is a useful tool. The chair must still monitor the situation carefully, and not take for granted that the meeting will proceed in a bilingual format simply because simultaneous interpretation is provided. By directing the secretarial services and the discussions effectively, the chair will facilitate the work of the interpreters, and also see that the participants take full advantage of this service by using their first official language.

Preparing for the meeting

Ask your secretarial service to send the following preparatory materials to the interpreters several days before the meeting, if possible:

  • all documents relating to the meeting, in both official languages and in the order in which they will be discussed;
  • a list of the names and titles of the participants and of their institutions in both official languages;
  • the principal acronyms and technical terms (in English and French) likely to be used at the meeting;
  • the written texts (both English and French versions) of the presentations.

Ensure that enough microphones are ordered for the conference room so that the interpreters will be able to hear all of the participants, including those who will be making presentations using charts and tables.

Make certain that there are enough headphones for all participants, so that each one can hear the interpretation. Your bilingual participants can always use them as a backup system to hear some speakers better.

During the meeting

From the outset of the meeting, encourage the participants to take full advantage of the simultaneous interpretation services provided by using their first official language.

Remind the speakers to use the microphones, since the interpreters can translate only what they can hear.

A member of your secretarial services should be assigned to remain in contact with the interpreters during the meeting, to attend to such matters as giving them copies of formal resolutions made during the deliberations, and to handle problems with microphones or with participants who speak too rapidly.

If the participants use only one language during the meeting, remind them from time to time that you have provided translation services precisely so that they can use either official language.

Prerequisites for Successful Bilingual Meetings

Some people believe that the success of a bilingual meeting depends only on the bilingual capability of the person who is presiding. This is certainly an important factor but it is not the only prerequisite for a successful bilingual meeting.

Prerequisites can be grouped into three categories: those having to do with the institutions itself, which are by far the most important; those that depend on the management style of the chair; and those related to language skills.


The 1988 Official Languages Act requires federal institutions to establish work environments conducive to the use of both official languages in bilingual regions, so that each employee can use either one.

To this end, federal institutions should clearly have a policy on language use in meetings.

  • This policy must, of course, be communicated to employees by the institution, and a summary of the policy should be posted permanently in its meeting rooms.
  • The institution should also remind its employees, using notices or signs placed on the meeting tables, that they may use either or both of the official languages.
  • The institution should in this, as in other areas of the official languages program, set itself goals to be achieved in a given year (dissemination and posting of the policy, French terminology appropriate to the organization's mandate, etc.), and measure the progress made.
  • From time to time the institution should evaluate, with the participants and chairpersons, the progress made in implementing the policy.

Management style of the chair

  • Those chairing meetings must use their leadership skills to attain the institution's language of work goals. They must therefore take an open, innovative approach to the subject, so that they can create an atmosphere conducive to the use of both official languages and obtain the participants' support for the institutions' goals.
  • Chairpersons must be aware of the constraints with which they must cope. They must know the goals they seek and the forces at work in the situation, and they must direct their meetings accordingly. The chair must be able to combine flexibility with tenacity and be sensitive to the sometimes contradictory needs of the participants.

Languages skills

Completely bilingual chair

If the chair is able to converse easily in both official languages, then he or she is fully equipped to succeed in this role. Such a person will make judicious use of both languages and also encourage participants in meetings to feel free to use either or both officials.

Obviously, apart from those who are "perfectly" bilingual, people who learn their second language later in life usually speak it less fluently than their first. This is normal, and no cause for alarm. Do you speak your second language with the accent of your first? Do you sometimes make errors in sentence construction? Do you sometimes have to search for the right word? Those small language deficiencies simply mean that the language you are using is not your first official language; they are of little importance if you succeed in making yourself understood, and if everyone in your meetings feels free to use his or her preferred official language.

Receptive bilingualism

Receptive bilinguals are those who understand their second language, but have little or no ability to speak it. Such people can make a much more valuable contribution toward the achievement of a language of work objective than is generally believed, and at the same time they can become more actively bilingual.

Receptive bilinguals can chair bilingual meetings if they are well supported and well organized. This implies judicious use of the techniques of this Guide, showing unfailing determination, and giving constant positive reinforcement to participants who address the chair in their second language. In this way a passively bilingual chair can turn into an advantage what some may consider a handicap.


If your duties require you to chair bilingual meetings fairly often, and you do not feel capable of doing this properly, it is up to you to do what is necessary to prevent this Guide from becoming a dead letter. You could take or continue language training, so that you can fully assume your responsibilities. During this transition period, you could use a co-chair to help you. If that is not possible, ask someone else to chair your meetings so as not to delay unduly the creation of a work environment conducive to the use of both official languages.

Discuss the matter with your immediate superior and your official languages director, or the official languages director, or the official languages program administrator in your organization. They are in a good position to advise you on how to acquire, as quickly as possible, the ability to chair these meetings yourself. Other people have done it - why not you too?


Now it is up to you to choose the techniques that, in keeping with your management style and the type of meetings you chair, will create a climate conducive to the free use of both official languages by the participants. You will certainly develop other workable ideas of your own.

Please tell us about the, by writing directly to the (Note: this is the most recent address and differs from the one found in the paper version of this publication):

Treasury Board Secretariat
Official Languages and Employment Equity Branch
Consultation and Client Services Division
300 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0R5

Do you sometimes search for the right word?... This is of little importance if you make yourself understood, and if everyone in your meeting feels free to use his or her preferred official language.

Appendix I: Basic English-French glossary of expressions relating to meetings

To hold a meeting

Tenir une réunion

To convene (to call) a meeting

Convoquer une réunion

To attend a meeting

Assister à une réunion

To sit on a committee

Participer aux travaux d'un comité

The quorum is reached

Le quorum est atteint

Order please!

À l'ordre s.v.p.!

The meeting is called to order

La séance est ouverte

Adoption of the agenda

Adoption de l'ordre du jour

Item on the agenda

Point à l'ordre du jour

To include in (add to) the agenda

Ajouter à l'ordre du jour

To remove from the agenda

Retirer de l'ordre du jour

Other business

Autres questions

Approved agenda

Ordre du jour définitif

To stick to the agenda

S'en tenir à l'ordre du jour

Terms of reference


To make a proposal

Présenter une proposition

To second (to support) a proposal

Appuyer une proposition

To withdraw a proposal

Retirer une proposition

To ask for a vote

Demander le vote

To put a question to the vote

Mettre une question aux voix

Is there a mover?

Y a-t-il un proposeur?

Is there a seconder?

Y a-t-il un second proposeur?

Vote by show of hands

Vote à main levée

Secret ballot

Vote secret


En faveur?



Carried unanimously

Adopté à l'unanimité

Adopted by a majority

Adopté à la majorité

The motion is carried by 12 votes

La motion est adoptée par 12

to 9 with 2 abstentions

voix contre 9 et 2 abstentions

The motion is rejected

La motion est rejetée

We will now recess for 15 minutes

La séance est interrompue pour 15 minutes

Coffee break


We will meet again in 5 minutes

Nous nous retrouverons ici dans 5 minutes

To proceed to the next item of business

Passer au point suivant

This question is out of order

Cette question est irrecevable

To record in the minutes

Inscrire au procès-verbal

Action to be taken

Suite à donner

The meeting is adjourned

La séance est levée

The next meeting will be held on the...

La prochaine réunion aura lieu le...

To write up the minutes

Rédiger le procès-verbal


Appendix II: Policy posted in Treasury Board Secretariat meeting rooms

Treasury Board Secretariat Policy on the use of both Official Languages in meetings

When English- and French-speaking employees participate in meetings, both oral and written communications should reflect the equality of status of the two official languages. Therefore, when employees of the Secretariat preside at such meetings, they should ensure that:

  • agendas and minutes are issued in bilingual format, or have some items in French and some in English, or (for a series of meetings) are prepared alternately all in English and all in French;
  • working papers and drafts are circulated in the preferred official language of the author;
  • participants can use their preferred official language during meetings;
  • arrangements are made for unilinguals to participate in meetings.

This policy applies to meetings of interdepartmental committees, task forces and ad hoc committees chaired by Secretariat officials, as well as to any internal meetings of the Secretariat.

Politique du Secrétariat du Conseil du Trésor sur l'utilisation des deux langues officielles dans les réunions

Lorsque des employés d'expression française et d'expression anglaise participent à des réunions, les communications verbales et écrites de ces réunions doivent refléter l'égalité de statut des deux langues officielles. Conséquemment, lorsqu'ils président ces réunions, les employés du Secrétariat doivent s'assurer que :

  • l'ordre du jour et le procès-verbal sont publiés sous une forme bilingue, ou comprennent des rubriques en français et d'autres en anglais, ou encore - dans le cas d'une série de rencontres - sont rédigés tantôt en français, tantôt en anglais, alternativement;
  • les documents de travail et les ébauches sont distribués dans la langue officielle du choix de l'auteur;
  • les participants peuvent utiliser la langue officielle de leur choix lors de la réunion;
  • des arrangements sont pris pour permettre aux unilingues de participer à la réunion.

Cette politique s'applique aux réunions de comités interministériels, de groupes de travail et de comités ad hoc présidés par des fonctionnaires du Secrétariat, ainsi qu'à toute réunion interne du Secrétariat.

Appendix III: Check List

Keep this handy checklist for meetings


Make sure that the invitation and the agenda clearly state that the meeting will be bilingual and that arrangements have been made so that unilinguals can take part in the discussions.

Check in which of the official languages your secretarial services distributed documents.

If this has not been done, remind the participants in your opening remarks.


Use both official languages from the beginning, and invite the participants to use the official language of their choice. If you are not able to do so, call on your co-chair.

Ask the participants if they understand both official languages. If some do not, tell them that the items that concern them will be summarized in their first official language.

Remind participants that the presence of unilinguals need not prevent a bilingual discussion.


Use the official language that is less frequently used during the meeting.

If necessary, call on the participants who have agreed to support your initiative to speak in the language they agreed to before the meeting.

Speak in their first official language to people who consistently use their second.

Encourage contributions in the language of the minority group by making your follow-up remarks in the language of that group.


Remind the participants that they may write documents in their first official language, in either draft or final form.

Decide which documents must be translated, and when.

If appropriate, ask for the participants' comments.

Note the methods that gave good results and the suggestions; dialogue with your group.


Date modified: