Ellen Elias-Bursać Collection

The Ellen Elias-Bursać Collection, an archive of translation and interpreting at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), includes the following four bodies of material: 1. administrative documents; 2. trial transcripts, memoranda, judgments and related documents for three highly debated Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS) terms; 3. The Karadžić trial documents;  4. a Conference and Language Services Section (CLSS) Survey.

This archive offers an overview of translation and interpreting issues that arose during the trials at the ICTY. It does not, however, provide comprehensive documentation of every mention of translation or interpreting in the work of the ICTY. The Unified Court Records, maintained by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (the source of the material provided under sections 1, 2, and 3 of the collection) is a repository of many more documents relevant to research into translation and interpreting in war crimes trials. 

For a fuller analysis of the ways translation and interpreting were treated at the ICTY and how they shaped the trials held there, as well as a detailed bibliography of related sources, see: Elias-Bursać, Ellen. Translating and Interpreting Evidence at a War Crimes Truibunal: Working in a Tug of War. 2015. Palgrave Macmillan.

Order of the Collection

It is suggested that, for research and educational narrative purposes, the collection be approached in the following order:

  1. Administrative documents: The Code of Ethics for Interpreters and Translators Employed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; Registry Policy Governing Translation Services Provided by the Registry; Rules of Procedure and Evidence pertaining to translation and interpreting; an internal audit in 2009 of language services at ICTY.
  2. Trial transcripts, official memoranda, judgments and other documents related to dilemmas and disputes posed by the translation of three key terms that came up in many trials. They are: "rukovođenje," "asanacija," and "komandant/ komandir"
  3.  Karadžić Trial documentsTranslation and interpreting issues that arose during the ICTY trial of Radovan Karadžić.
  4. The CLSS Survey: A collection of anonymous responses to a survey Elias-Bursać conducted of translators and interpreters who had worked or were working in the Conference Language Services Section of the ICTY.


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