Unseen and Unsung: ICC Language Services and Their Impact on Institutional Legitimacy

32 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2018  

Leigh Swigart

Brandeis University - International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life

Date Written: January 2, 2018

Abstract

This article is based on the author's ongoing ethnographic study of how the International Criminal Court (ICC) is responding to a broad range of multilingual challenges, particularly those related to African languages. The ICC is currently using more than thirty languages from the African continent in its investigations, trials, interactions with victims, and outreach activities. Despite the centrality of these languages to various ICC situations and cases, African language experts, and the structures created to support their work, operate largely in the shadows. Furthermore, the innovative strategies developed by ICC language service staff around recruitment and training of interpreters for 'languages of lesser diffusion', development of legal lexicons in those languages, and other vital activities are rarely acknowledged publicly. Despite the obvious multilingual nature of all ICC situations and cases, the constant use of interpretation and translation (even between its working languages), and the visible presence of interpreters in the courtroom, the Court's language services remain strangely unseen and unsung. Bringing the work of language services staff into the light could enhance the legitimacy of the ICC both through improving its performance and countering negative commentary among its constituents, especially in situation countries.

Keywords: ICC, International Criminal Justice, Multilingualism, Courtroom Interpretation, African Sociolinguistics

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Swigart, Leigh, Unseen and Unsung: ICC Language Services and Their Impact on Institutional Legitimacy (January 2, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3095801 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3095801

Leigh Swigart (Contact Author)

Brandeis University - International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life ( email )

Waltham, MA 02454
United States
7817368577 (Phone)
7817368561 (Fax)

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