From "Texts in the Making" to Authoritative Judgements: International Courts Behind the Scenes – University of Copenhagen

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From "Texts in the Making" to Authoritative Judgements: International Courts Behind the Scenes

The Public Seminar 'From Texts in the Making 'to Authoritative Judgments' addresses an aspect of law-making which is often overlooked in both dogmatic and empirical legal research: judgments of international courts are hybrid texts that have come into being in a complex process of written and oral communication between actors who speak different languages, belong to a variety of professional and legal cultures, and pursue divergent agendas. Once issued, judgments of international courts are usually analyzed as authoritative sources of law whose wording is rarely examined in the light of the complex linguistic, cultural and political context in which they have been formulated.

But who are the actual drafters of the legal decisions, who or what decides their wording, how do problems of multilingualism affect the drafting process and the final texts, to what extent is the language of judgments caused by external influences (policy concerns, NGO’s amicus curiae) and what role does it play that the drafters have no first-hand knowledge of the local communities, legal systems, and languages that are treated in the judgments?

The primary focus of the seminar is on the overt and covert translation processes which influence the wording and meaning of judgments both before and after they have been adopted as authoritative legal texts.

Speakers at the seminar are researchers specialized in the study of international courts and practitioners with inside knowledge of the internal operation of international courts. The list of invited speakers include: 

  • Karen McAuliffe (Birmingham Law School)
  • James Brannan (translator at The European Court of Human Rights, previously The International Court of Justice)
  • Álvaro Paúl Diaz (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)
  • Kerstin Carlson (iCourts Global Research Fellow; University of Southern Denmark)
  • Ellen Elias-Bursac (The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University)
  • Leigh Swigart (Director of Programs in International Justice and Society at the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life of Brandeis University)

Seminar programme

13:00 – 13:10 Welcome and Introduction, Anne Lise Kjær
13:10 – 14:40

PANEL 1: THE PITFALLS OF MULTILINGUAL DRAFTING AND TRANSLATION OF INTERNATIONAL COURTS’ JUDGMENTS

  • Dr. Karen McAuliffe (Birmingham Law School): Linguistic Precedent in the Judgments of the CJEU
  • James Brannan (translator at The European Court of Human Rights): “Conveying the right message in ECtHR judgments: is language an obstacle?”
  • Álvaro Paúl Diaz (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile): Translation Challenges of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Discussion
14:40 – 14:55 Coffee break
14:55 15:55

PANEL 2: THE TENSIONS BETWEEN LOCAL KNOWLEDGE AND INTERNATIONAL LEGAL COMMUNICATION

  • Dr. Kerstin Carlson (iCourts Global Research Fellow, University of Southern Denmark): 'Springtime in Chad': who owns the judgment, and why does it matter?
  • Ellen Elias-Bursac (The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University) Translating Evidence and Interpreting Testimony at the ICTY
Discussion
15:55 16:10 Refreshments
16:10 16:40

PANEL 3: HOW INTERNATIONAL COURTS ADDRESS DIVERSE CONSTITUENCIES

  • Leigh Swigart (Director of Programs in International Justice and Society at the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life of Brandeis University): Strategies for Bridging the Linguistic and Cultural Gap in International Criminal Institutions

Discussion
16:40 16:45 Concluding remarks, Anne Lise Kjær


Time
Thursday, 21 June 2018, 13:00-16:45

Venue: Kierkegaard Auditorium, ground floor, room 9A-0-01, Njalsgade 76, DK-2300 Copenhagen S

Registration:
For participation in the event please use this registration form no later than 15 June 2018, 12:00.