For decades, the United Nations has employed a simultaneous interpretation system to conduct its business. Featuring a dozen interpreters working in unison from six interpretation booths, this sophisticated mode of interpretation has been a mainstay of UN operations. However, with the outbreak of the coronavirus, remote simultaneous interpretation has become the new reality.
Remote Simultaneous Interpretation Online
With social distancing regulations becoming the norm, the proceedings of the United Nations are conducted exclusively on online telecommunications platforms, using remote interpreting services to ensure crystal-clear communication between meeting participants. This new method has radically changed the way the UN operates. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, although certain organizations such as the World Bank have used remote interpreting to conduct meetings in the past, other UN-affiliated organizations do not have experience with this method of communicating, such as the World Trade Organization. This has made it very difficult for the World Trade Organization to continue in the coronavirus era. For instance, in the past, bodies like the WTO relied heavily on face-to-face negotiation, a practice in which participants rely heavily on non-verbal communication. Because of the switch to virtual interpreting services parties in a negotiation are unable to properly read the other’s intentions, making it difficult to reach an agreement or resolve disputes.
Why Remote Simultaneous Interpretation Is Imperative
Clearly, video remote interpreting has brought great changes to the United Nations. That said, it is for this very situation that the United Nations was created in the first place and this is perhaps the greatest test of its viability. In this time, it is especially important that developed countries assist those less developed. Otherwise, we will face the nightmare of the disease spreading throughout densely populated countries and the prospect of the disease re-emerging where it was previously suppressed. This demonstrates the need for online interpretation services, a method of bringing multiple countries together. This human crisis demands coordinated, decisive, inclusive and innovative policy action from the world’s leading economies. In order for the many different countries to come together to help the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries, there must be people who are capable of bridging the language gap.
In these challenging times, the United Nation is proving the interconnectedness of the world. After all, all of us are only as strong as the weakest health system—and the United Nations is working to keep to the forefront of the global consciousness during this unprecedented time.
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