The Division of Conference Services has qualified permanent staff interpreters for all six official United Nations languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish). If necessary, the permanent teams can be supplemented by locally or internationally recruited professional freelance interpreters approved by the Interpretation Section and experienced in working for United Nations meetings.
Staff interpreters provide both simultaneous (real-time) and consecutive (note-taking) conference interpretation to exacting United Nations standards. The team of interpreters provides services in all the official United Nations languages for meetings in Nairobi and at meeting venues the world over.
To book the services of the Interpretation Section, clients must contact the office of the Chief Interpreter (+254 (0)20 762 2485) or the Meetings Planning Unit (+254 (0)20 762 3571). Clients must then complete a meeting request form, providing details of the proposed meeting, such as dates, schedule, venue and contact person.
Requests must be submitted well in advance of the scheduled meeting to ensure proper planning and the availability of staff. Please remember that staff interpreters travel regularly to service meetings at Headquarters and elsewhere.
Clients are reminded that, once an agreement for the provision of interpretation services has been signed, it is considered binding on all parties. Accordingly, under the established regulations, late cancellations or modifications will not exempt the requesting party from payment for services, and clients are therefore urged to ensure that any changes are made well ahead of the meeting.
Interpretation work involves a high level of stress and fatigue for the interpreter. For interpreters to be able to provide consistent high-quality service, minimum working conditions have been devised in cooperation with the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC). These conditions are designed to ensure a successful meeting for the client:
Meeting duration: Sessions should not last more than three hours, and there should be a break of at least 90 minutes between morning and afternoon sessions. Any extension of the established working times should be discussed with the Chief Interpreter or team leader well in advance in order to provide for additional capacity.
Pre-session documentation: To facilitate preparation by the interpretation team, conference organizers are requested to provide any pre-session documentation, relevant background papers and other sources of information on the meeting topics well in advance.
In-session documents: Speeches, presentations, speaking notes or outlines, etc., must be provided to interpreters as soon as these are available, and before delivery in the room, whether or not changes are later made to the text.
Contact person: Meeting organizers should appoint a contact person to act as liaison with the interpretation team leader and the meeting coordinator, to deal with any changes to the scheduled programme, to provide in-session documentation and to handle any other issues that may arise during the meeting.
Equipment: Meeting organizers are reminded that when a meeting is held outside UN facilities, sound and interpretation equipment, as well as the suitability of the premises, should be verified by interpretation staff beforehand. ISO standards for interpretation equipment and premises can be obtained from AIIC or from the office of the Chief Interpreter.
For further information, please contact:
Mr. Pedro-José Espinosa
Chief, Interpretation Section
Tel.: +254 (0)20 762 2485
Mr. Tirus Kariuki
Tel.: +254 (0)20 762 2436
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