Statement by AIIC representatives in the UN on the occasion of human rights day

Statement by AIIC representatives in the UN on the occasion of human rights day

As the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) celebrates its 60th anniversary, the AIIC interpreters working for the United Nations wish to mark Human Rights Day by recalling the long cooperation between our Association and the UN family. From just 35 founding members in 1953, AIIC has today grown into an open and representative professional organization of staff and freelance conference interpreters, with over 3,000 members in 100 different countries.

Our profession is international by nature. Its practice knows no borders. The possibility to say exactly what one wants to say in one’s own language and to understand perfectly what others are saying is a basic right, and AIIC plays a central role in guaranteeing this right. AIIC has consistently promoted professional excellence and is the main point of reference for the technical standards and working conditions required to guarantee quality, safeguard health and train future generations of colleagues. It is the only genuinely global association of conference interpreters.

AIIC is a fully-fledged international organization: it has elected officers, a governing Council and an International Secretariat based in Geneva, 23 regional bureaux and several elected specialized bodies. It aims to advance the profession through research, cooperation among trainers, outreach and advocacy and its members perform all these activities on a voluntary basis. AIIC membership is organized in "sectors".

What we call the "Agreement Sector" brings together interpreters working for the major international organizations with which AIIC has negotiated collective agreements for many years. For the UN, the Agreement with AIIC is a guarantee of effective and consistent management of interpreting services throughout the system. In return, interpreters are assured they will be able to work under optimum conditions and render a quality service, as they are professionally pledged to do.

More than just a dry procedural manual, the Agreement sets the tone for cooperation between interpreters and clients. It guarantees professionalism, fairness and smooth industrial relations.  Above all, it symbolizes mutual trust between the interpreters and the organizations.  The current Agreement is the ninth between AIIC and the UN. Over the years, the interpreters have made their very specialized skills available to the UN and always shown flexibility in order to meet the organizations’ needs, while defending working conditions that are vital to the guarantee of quality.

The spirit of an agreement is all the more important when budget constraints are a spur to unilateral solutions that go against legitimate labour rights and the values the UN proclaims. No crisis can justify losing sight of the most exalted principles to which human beings aspire. In the realm of labour these principles are: decent work, equity and, most of all, dialogue in good faith, since respect and mutual trust are the cornerstones of any sound relationship and no agreement can be the hostage of mere business considerations.

AIIC, with its 60 years of professional excellence and long-standing service for the United Nations, reaffirms its attachment to the rights and values that uplift humanity.

The UN and AIIC – over 50 years of partnership

Recommended citation format:
United Nations Negotiating Delegation. "Statement by AIIC representatives in the UN on the occasion of human rights day". December 10, 2013. Accessed March 29, 2020. <>.

There are no comments to display