Translation of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights into Non-official Languages: The Politics and Practice of European Multilingualism
Forthcoming, Anne Lise Kjær and Joanna Lam (eds.): Language and Legal Interpretation in International Law, Oxford University Press (Oxford Studies in Language and Law)
29 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2019 Last revised: 27 Feb 2020
Date Written: October 31, 2019
The paper examines the role that translation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has played in the dialogue between the Member States of the Council of Europe and the Court over time. The judgments of the ECHR are produced in the two official languages, English and French, only. Translation into other languages was never an issue in the discussions leading to the adoption of the European Convention on Human Rights, and not until the beginning of the reform process at the turn of the century was translation of ECHR judgments into non-official languages put on the agenda. It was introduced into the reform discourse under the heading of Member States’ implementation of the convention and their knowledge and understanding of the Court’s case law. The paper traces the development of translation arguments in the reform discourse and discusses the possible reasons why translation into languages other than English and French was not an issue until the Court faced challenges from the Member States in the early 2000s. It is argued that the choice of language policy and considerations regarding translation into the national languages of the Member States indicate the institutional balance that exists at any given time in the interface between the national and European level of lHuman Riights law.
Keywords: European Court of Human Rights, Interlaken Reform Proces, Case Law Translation Programme, Multilingualism, Legitimacy, Backlash
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