Translating Legal Capacity – Language Resource #1

Translating Legal Capacity – Language Resource #1

PERSONlogowith text

One issue we have faced in translating human rights into reality is translating human rights into different languages. Serious issues can arise where the content of human rights is badly translated or not translated at all. Sometimes, the direct translation of certain terms do not really resonate in a different language because there are specific concepts that do not really exist in certain languages.

On the one hand, the right to equal recognition before the law is simple: treat everyone the same. Give everyone the same right to ‘act’, to self-direct their lives, and where needed give them support to do so.

On the other hand, the right to equal recognition before the law is very complex: it involves defining what it means to act with autonomy, what it means to be a person before the law. Both of these matter – autonomy and personhood – are the subject of big philosophical questions. These questions have been explored and debated in texts as old as the Koran, the Bible and in the work of the Greek philosophers.

That’s why it’s important for us to find translations as exact as possible when it comes to Article 12 and the right to act. The PERSON partnership wished to contribute to this search for clarity in translation.

Today, we are pleased to add to our website a SERBIAN language translation of the right to act declaration. We would like to thank our partners, MDRI-S for their hard work on this front. Here’s a pic of some of the MDRI-S crew spreading the word:


This translation will be the first in a series of releases. We will be exploring how translation can make a very large difference to whether a human right is understood. As Samuel Putnam once said, “In translation language facility is not enough; blood and sweat are the secret.” Thankyou to MDRI-S for your blood and sweat and for this terrific resource!

Stay tuned for more.



This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of PERSON (Partnership to Ensure Reforms of Supports in Other Nations) and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.