May 24, 2017 marks an historical milestone for all professional translators, interpreters and terminologists as the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted Resolution A/71/L.68 recognising the role of professional translation in connecting nations, and fostering peace, understanding and development.
In the same resolution, the United Nations General Assembly declares 30 September to be UN International Translation Day to be celebrated across the entire UN network.
Official recognition of the International Translation Day (ITD), first celebrated back in 1953, has been one of FIT’s longstanding missions since its inception. Many attempts have been made to seek official recognition of ITD especially from our partner UNESCO. As recently as early 2015, a delegation with a letter signed by FIT President to the Secretary General of UNESCO attended the inaugural launch of the International Mother Language Day but to no avail.
Multilingualism, successful implementation of which is intricately linked with professional translation, interpreting and terminology, is one of the key pillars of the United Nations and it is a central component of its engagement with citizens from 193 Member States through its 6 official languages. It is particularly poignant that Resolution A/71/L.68 compliments the Nairobi Recommendation of 1976 widening the scope to encompass all human endeavours by recognising the role professional translation plays in connecting nations – the very theme of ITD2016, proposed by the American Translators Association (ATA).
This resolution also enshrines and celebrates the importance and the irreplaceability of professional translation in international human endeavours. It highlights the critical need for training the next generation of professional translators, interpreters and terminologists to meet this ever increasing demand as international interaction, cooperation and collaboration continue to grow. The United Nations, in collaboration with its university partners, has been one of the leading centres of excellence in training the translators, interpreters and terminologists who will continue to play a critical role in international security and prosperity in Member States and across the UN.
Both FIT and the UN are about bringing people together. Resolution xxx not only brings the UN and FIT closer together; with ITD coinciding with the International Week of the Deaf (IWD) and following the successful inaugural combined observation and celebration of the IWD and ITD last year, it is hoped that the celebration of ITD across the UN will also highlight the important role played by the national and regional sign languages especially in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Finally, it is important to remind the Federation and the wider profession that 2017 already marks an important milestone. The European Commission and the wider European Union will be observing and celebrating the ITD for the first time in conjunction with European Day of Languages (EDL) following last year’s successful meeting between the Director-General for Translation (DGT) and Director General for Interpretation (DGI) and FIT President at the European Commission.