26th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee -- Agenda papers
|26th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee |
Gland, Switzerland, 3 - 7 December 2001
|[tabled at the SC26 meeting]|| |
Use of the official languages at Standing Committee meetings
1. As indicated in DOC. SC26-24 with the report of the Subgroup on COP8, the question of the use of the three official languages at Standing Committee meetings and at meeting of its Subgroups was raised by Japan, and it was recommended that the issue be discussed by the Standing Committee.
2. It has been common practice at Standing Committee meetings, when simultaneous interpretation was not available, that some Parties would intervene in French or Spanish and the Bureau would provide consecutive interpretation. During the period 1993-1999 there were one or two delegates who also required whispered interpretation because they did not understand English. At times this interpretation was provided by Bureau staff.
3. On several occasions in the past, French and Spanish speaking members of the Standing Committee formally requested to have simultaneous interpretation at the meetings, at least in the plenary sessions. This request could not be met because of the costs involved.
4. On the occasion of the 24th Meeting of the Standing Committee in 1999, the Secretary General considered that the budget line for administrative services and operating costs would allow the Bureau to provide simultaneous interpretation during the three days of plenary sessions. So interpretation in the three official languages was arranged.
5. The minutes of that meeting refer to this issue as follows:
"16. Togo lauded the Bureaus efforts in providing simultaneous interpretation for the benefit of non-English speaking members of the Standing Committee and requested, in future, translation of SC documents as well, if additional financial resources were to become available. Spain thanked the Bureau for excellent documentation and interpretation ."
"17. Concerning simultaneous interpretation at the SC24 meeting, France and Argentina expressed thanks for the initiative ."
6. Interpretation was provided again at the 25th meeting in 2000 and at the current meeting. The costs involved are as follows:
|Total for 6 interpreters during three days, including 3 additional hours to normal working hours:||SFR 13,950|
|Hiring of earphones||SFR 1,500|
It should be noted that this represents a special rate negotiated by the Bureau with this team of interpreters. UN and market rates in the area are higher than this.
7. Rule 26 of the Rules of Procedures of the Conference of the Parties, which, mutatis mutandi, apply to the meetings of the Standing Committee, establishes that:
"7 (c) There shall be no requirement to provide interpretation in committee or working group sessions, including the Conference Committee."
Thus, the Secretary General, in taking the decision to devote core budget resources to provide interpretation at Standing Committee meetings, considered that he was acting within the rules, since they established that interpretation at committee meetings, while not required, is not ruled out.
8. In the view of the Secretary General, the experience has demonstrated that consecutive and simultaneous interpretation provide a much greater opportunity for participation and useful contributions from a considerable number of Standing Committee members who are not fluent in English.
OF HIGH IMPORTANCE
Amendment to point 6 of document SC26-29
Use of languages - page 2
The sentence following the figures of interpretation and headphones should read as follows:
"It should be noted that this represents a special rate negotiated by the Bureau with this team of interpreters, who accepted the UN rate instead of a higher private market rate because Ramsar is a non-profit organization."
The interpreters request that this sentence be first announced orally to the audience, and then amended in writing.
The sentence as it reads now leads to the conclusion that this team of interpreters apply "grey market prices", which is unacceptable for their reputations.