The Role of Legal Translation in the Interpretation of International Law Documents

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Mansour Farrokhi


In this paper, legal translation and its role in the interpretation of international law documents have been taken into consideration, both from a theoretical and a practical perspective. As far as theoretical aspects are concerned, legal translation in the light of civil law (Roman law) and common law systems, the status of legal translation in international law, the principles of plain language, and the equivalence of legal words are discussed. Accordingly, the interconnection between legal translation and interpretation of international law documents has been examined. As regards the practical perspective, the practice of the International Court of Justice, as well as applicable rules of the World Trade Organization and the European Union in respect of legal translation, has been discussed. The study carried out shows that due to the nature of international law and different foundations, goals, structures, sources and concepts of international legal order on the one hand, and divergent legal and cultural characteristics, as well as non-equivalent technical terms of various legal systems on the other, legal translators, who are inevitably influenced by their own national laws, are confronted with many profound difficulties.

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