Published 2016-12-02

IAPTI’s Board Statement

IAPTI’s Board Statement

Dear Members:

This statement is in response to unfounded charges by certain Members who have decided to  resign after alleging improprieties that they claim occurred within the framework of the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI).

As we shall explain below, the charges leveled are not only unfounded and misleading, but also appear to be malicious in their intent. This last point is true to the extent that the accusers, who have long formed an active part of IAPTI’s staff team, are pleading ignorance of processes in which they themselves took part. 

Since the founding of IAPTI, the Board that directs it has conducted itself in an irreproachably ethical and professional manner, in keeping with the spirit and goals of the association, to which it allocates an enormous amount of effort and time. Ironically, some of the Members who have decided to leave have been witnesses to this conduct, having worked side by side with the Board for many years, some of them ever since IAPTI was first founded. 
Regarding unfounded charges
The accusers claim that there is no democratic participation within the Association. This is patently false, considering that, depending on the matter before us, we never hesitate to consult our Staff. Naturally, as can happen in any institution, the administrative body of IAPTI (the Board) arrives at its own decisions, depending on the matter in question and its urgency, 1) by effective decision of the Board on matters ranging from hundreds of small daily matters which, if they involved consultation, would transform the association into a Kafkaesque bureaucracy, to strategic decisions consistent with its duties as a Board of Directors,  2) by consulting with particular members of the staff team, 3) by consulting with the entire staff team, or, 4) by consulting with all Members of the association.

The departing Members also contend that practices are allowed which could amount to potential conflicts of interest between IAPTI and some of its Members. While this issue has been the subject of assiduous attention by the staff team since its creation, it has been handled up to now on an informal basis, based on strict ethical guidelines. But we have now decided to draft a formal policy on conflicts of interest, based, as always, on unshakable ethical principles, such as non-acceptance of agencies as members of the association, or as sponsors for our events, a rule that extends as well to all other bodies with interests at variance with those of an association, which, like ours, defends the interests of translators and interpreters everywhere. 

We emphatically reject the claim that we have broken off dialogue with the accusers. It is indisputable that there have been countless exchanges over the past 12 months or more between the Board and these individuals who formerly held posts on our staff team. In our internal discussions there has been extensive and candid dialogue on the concerns put forward. The Board has devoted hundreds of hours as well as holding virtual and face-to-face meetings in the interest of seeking consensus and understanding. The fact that the departing Members are not in agreement with the Board’s decisions does not mean that there has been no dialogue. Indeed, a number of the issues that have arisen as a result of such exchanges have been taken up by the Board and will be implemented (as we informed the departing Members at the last meeting).

Before resigning, several of the accusers decided to issue a public statement that purported to be an explanation of matters that, clearly, they still do not understand: In the absence of an expert capable of presenting a proper explanation of the complexities involved, the result is oversimplified assertions with scant support in fact, which have ended up causing undue consternation among our Members. Because of their lack of proper legal expertise, the resulting  assertions have been frankly false–or in any case, inaccurate.

With regard to the challenge that former staff members have posed to the nationality of Board members, we wish to remind Members that what makes IAPTI an international association is, among other things, its membership in 78 countries, the individuals on its staff team and the events it holds in various countries, not the nationality of its Board. The association was conceived and established in Argentina, but as a defender of all translators and interpreters everywhere, in all subject areas, and in all countries. The standard for electing the first team was heavily geared towards including colleagues who were well acquainted with the international market, and to a diversity of players (both individuals and institutions) that deeply influence our professional life as translators and interpreters. 

Common sense tells us that an international association (though registered in Argentina) must have, in its principal positions, people who live in the place where the association was founded, most particularly in the case of the founding Board which, in the association’s initial stages must devote a great deal of time to all of the bureaucratic procedures which, due to current commercial and legal practices, must be carried out in person. 

By way of example, we wish to show how our membership has expanded, from having members in only a couple of countries (in 2009), to having Members in 78 countries (in 2016). This proves that this Board has understood how to reach out to the international community, despite so many reversals and so many countercurrents.  None of these vicissitudes has prevented IAPTI from achieving recognition in the international community as one of the most representative voices defending translators and interpreters from all over the world.

On IAPTI’s legal status
With respect to IAPTI’s legal status, we wish to underscore how complex our association is; being of such complexity as to place it at odds with regard to various segments of the national legal system, the nature of our organization poses a number of questions that require the attorneys and accountants who advise us to undertake research (even though they are experts in association law). 

It should be understood that this initial period is atypical, but in no way irregular or deserving of any mistrust, and that it does not prevent us from operating as a simple association (which has already been explained to our Members in a note drafted by one of our legal advisors, Dr. Gonzalo Hernán Vidal). IAPTI is an association registered with the Argentine government (Office of the Inspector General for Justice, IGJ – Inspección General de Justicia), number 1821.362 dated October 9, 2009), and we are confident that the process of full registration will be completed very shortly.

IAPTI is a pioneering association in the field of translation and interpretation, considering that although it is based within a national jurisdiction, it seeks to protect translators and interpreters, unconstrained by borders or continental separation. The Argentine regulatory authority is highly bureaucratic, and has required modification of numerous elements in our Bylaws, yet we continue to uphold and advocate IAPTI’s core mission: In times of globalization, an international association is vital.

Throughout this entire process, we have devoted endless amounts of time to phone calls, e-mails, visits to various offices and of course to the IGJ itself on a number of occasions, accompanied by filing attorney Dr. Magdalena Cords, and our principal counsel Dr. Sebastián Toledo, as well as consulting other distinguished attorneys in this field: Dr. Ricardo Nissen (former Director of the IGJ), Dr. Laura Hers, Dr. Gonzalo Hernán Vidal, and Dr. Guillermo Cabanellas de las Cuevas, who continue to advise us at present.

With regard to the amendment of the association’s Bylaws, which seems to be a matter of concern to the departing Members, we reiterate that, since simple associations in Argentina do not have signed ledgers and other formalities of governmental oversight and auditing (which will indeed be the case once final approval is granted), there is no way to formally submit to the membership any kind of request for a change in the Bylaws. As often happens in Argentina, provision was made in the original Bylaws to the effect that the Association’s legal representative–who is in regular contact with the Office of the Inspector General for Justice–is authorized to make minor adjustments to the Association’s Bylaws, as required by the governmental agency to undertake its approval. 

No amendment whatsoever has been made to the IAPTI Bylaws that did not adhere strictly and rigorously to the requirements of the IGJ. This will be better understood once government approval is granted.

Upon completion of the registration process, not only will the mandatory implementation of all mechanisms for oversight required for associations by Argentine law be authorized (initialing of documents, audits, etc.), but each Member will also be able fully to exercise his or her political rights, including running for office, electing officials, and proposing revisions of the Bylaws. 

The Board’s efforts to obtain approval by the Argentine government without relinquishing the identifying elements that define our association (its international character), are and have been ongoing. 

As for the elections, as previously noted, they cannot be formally held until full legal status is granted by the Argentine government.  There is nothing murky or underhanded about not having yet held elections: We simply are not legally empowered to do it yet.  IAPTI’s aspirations are held in check by local technical and legal limitations, but its Board is determined to carry forward the project, sustained by the enormous amount of time that its officers devote to it (even when this disrupts their own work and personal life), without receiving in return anything more than the reward of our pride in our common ideals and satisfaction in a job well done: As we state on the page listing our officers on our association website, all positions held by IAPTI officials are honorary posts. Once the association has had its legal status fully confirmed, we will hold extraordinary elections to elect a new Board.

With regard to the accusation of a supposed lack of transparency, we emphatically reject the claim that our way of working can be characterized as opaque, or that the Members have not received information on IAPTI’s economic and financial situation. Because we do not yet have final governmental approval, we cannot hold Assemblies pursuant to the formal terms stipulated in the Bylaws.  Nonetheless, to ensure that Members are kept abreast of IAPTI’s current status, and although it is not mandatory to do so, since 2012, Annual Assemblies have been held through our GotoMeeting  platform (our only way of reaching our far-flung Members in 78 countries). At these meetings, we report on goals and accomplishments, initiatives, the tally of Members by country and by place of residence, as well as on our numbers (P&L). We wish to reiterate that we are not required by law to hold such assemblies, but we decided to do so in order to keep our Members informed.

Thank You

We are very proud of all that we have accomplished during these years. Since its founding, IAPTI has undertaken a number of projects and organized a variety of events to achieve its objectives. The first two international conferences were held in London and Greece, the first in 2013, to provide solid support for the struggle of interpreters opposed to the MoJ’s contract with ALS/Capita; the second to support our Greek colleagues in an acutely difficult period of crisis for their country. Since 2013 we have been a part of the Open Letter Project, together with other kindred associations. This is a collaborative undertaking that seeks to protect the lives of translators and interpreters in conflict zones. This year we launched our Project Africa, led by our Head in Kenya, and held free events in Cameroon, Ethiopia and Tanzania, in some cases establishing the milestone of providing the first time translators and interpreters got together to speak about their profession and the challenges it raises. Through the University Forum initiative we are reaching out to universities and other educational institutions, both virtually and in person, to talk with students and to present a series of recommendations regarding our profession based on a document prepared by the entire IAPTI staff.

We thank all Members who have chosen to join our young and ambitious association, and invite you to consult us if you have questions or concerns. 

We also wish to inform you that, since we are on the verge of achieving full legal status and reaching the election process, we will soon be getting in touch with you to invite you to take part in management and coordination activities. 

Aurora Matilde Humarán
On behalf of IAPTI’s Board
December 1, 2016