Writing and Language Studies Faculty Publications and Presentations

Document Type


Publication Date



In the on-going debate about language rights, the role of translation remains somewhat of a blind spot. And yet, because there are very few truly monolingual societies in the world, any language policy implies a translation policy. Translation policies will vary from place to place, and they are often the result of ad hoc choices by policy makers at the local level. Even so, by looking at international law, we can find a sort of lowest common denominator for what is to be expected of translation policies. Sources of international law that can have an effect in shaping domestic policies include treaties/conventions and the judicial decisions of international tribunals. In Europe, in particular, a number of regional treaties from the Council of Europe weigh on translation as an instrument to guarantee the rights of minority speakers. The European Union – with its own treaties, regulations and directives – also helps set minimum standards for domestic translation policies. We will see that in Europe translation is usually cast as a means to secure other rights. Unfortunately, international law seems to set a rather low bar for this, with the most explicit protections afforded in the judicial realm but with relatively little elsewhere.


This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the International Journal on Minority and Group Rights © Brill, available online at: http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/10.1163/15718115-02003004.

Publication Title

International Journal on Minority and Group Rights





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.