Unseen and Unsung: ICC Language Services and Their Impact on Institutional Legitimacy
28 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2018 Last revised: 6 Nov 2018
Date Written: January 2, 2018
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: Suggested Citation