[preparing for september]

Topic: United Nations

This week has been a hectic rush to produce detailed comments on the draft outcome document of the high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly, which will take place on September 14-16. This is the raw material, warts and all, and it has been fascinating to see how rough this draft is, and in what ways. Certain sentences just hit syntactic or grammatical brick walls, and I get the sense that some of this difficulty is translational: the document is presumably being hashed out in all six of the UN’s official languages, so whenever a particular committee agrees on a formulation in, say, Spanish, it is then hurriedly translated into the other five languages. And considering how much attention is paid to this or that word, the translators probably lean toward literalism, with the attendant risk of producing sentences that are somewhat tortured in their destination languages.

Then there’s my personal favorite, in paragraph 31, which reads, “We are convinced that eradication of poverty and hunger is crucial for the achievement of the [Millenium Development Goals].” I, too, am convinced of this, because the very first Millenium Development Goal is Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. I was pleased to be permitted to work into our statement a takedown of this particular tautology.

Okay, so I’m a dork. But I love this stuff.