How the International Criminal Court Addresses Diverse Linguistic Needs
From Working Language to Situation Language
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an institution characterized by multilingualism at all levels. Not only do staff members themselves hail from diverse language communities, but the “situation languages” – those relevant to ICC investigations, trial proceedings, victims’ services and outreach activities – bring many more languages into the institutional mix. As a number of those are categorized as “languages of lesser diffusion,” ICC language professionals must often use innovative strategies to ensure both fair trial rights of defendants and efficient provision of translation and interpretation services to units across the Court. The working language policy of the ICC, on the other hand, is quite ordinary – all staff members must be proficient in at least one of the working languages, English or French. And like many other international institutions, it is clear that English dominates over French to a large degree.
This presentation, based on the findings of a multi-year ethnographic project about language challenges at the ICC, explores how the Court approaches both the extreme diversity of its situation languages and the increasing homogeneity of the language used in its day-to-day communications.
This event is free. It attracts 10PD points under the NAATI category “Skills development and Knowledge” (1.4)
Leigh SwigartDirector of the Programs in International Justice and Society at International Center of Ethics, Justice and Public Life, Brandeis University
Leigh Swigart is Director of the Programs in International Justice and Society at the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, Brandeis University. A linguistic anthropologist by training, Swigart has overseen diverse programs in the sphere of international justice, including the Brandeis Institute for International Judges and the Ad Hoc Tribunals Oral History Project. Her academic work and publications have focused on the challenges of language and cultural diversity in international criminal courts and tribunals; language use in post-colonial Africa; and African immigration and refugee resettlement in the United States. She is also the co-author of The International Judge: An Introduction to the Men and Women Who Decide the World’s Cases (OUP 2007). Leigh’s latest initiative is the Language, Culture and Justice Hub, which provides a virtual space for those working at the nexus of these phenomena to discover new publications, commentators, ideas and trends.