Justice on the surface, Janus underneath. All that glitters is actually silver…
This is to inform you of our resignation from the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI).
– Maria Karra (president of IAPTI’s Ethics Committee and founding member),
– Attila Piróth (vice-president of the Ethics Committee),
– Catherine V. Howard (University Liaison Committee member),
– Shai Navé (head of Israel Chapter),
– Valerij Tomarenko and Steve Vitek (both of the Professional Practices Committee),
wish to dissociate ourselves from IAPTI for the reasons outlined below:
Over the past year, we have become increasingly concerned about a growing list of problems stemming from the lack of checks and balances within IAPTI, which include the lack of democratic participation, transparency, external oversight, and measures to prevent conflicts of interest. As a result, there is a dissonance between the association’s outward image and its inner workings. Its pledge to empower individual translators and interpreters worldwide is at odds with its own hierarchical internal structure that disempowers members. IAPTI is run according to an executive model, not a democratic one, which allows few opportunities for participation and decision-making by members.
According to its own mission statement, IAPTI strives to be “a venue in which to establish a dialog, without censorship and without conflicts of interest, with the aim of promoting effective professional ethics.” Nonetheless, we have been stymied in our efforts to pursue constructive dialogs for meaningful change; our attempts to communicate problems to the general membership have been censored; and conflicts of interest continue to pervade the Board. All this is no longer aligned with our ideas about ethical business practices.
IAPTI’s outward calls for transparency in other entities are not consistent with its own internal practices. For example, the Board has failed to provide members with the range of financial statements required in the bylaws. For seven years since its founding, IAPTI’s registration has still not been approved by the Argentine justice or tax authorities, hence it has been operating without government oversight, but members are not aware of the ramifications of this lack of approval. Without financial transparency, members are left in the dark and ill-prepared for tax-related issues concerning business expenses, such as their membership fee. In our opinion, IAPTI’s lack of legal authorization is no excuse for failing to honor its obligations for transparency and accountability to its members.
In IAPTI’s current status, its own bylaws are not applied in full. It is unclear which bylaws, if any, in IAPTI’s website are applicable or valid, in the absence of any proviso or explanation. Members are unaware of any changes made in the bylaws, whereas such changes are supposed to be approved by members in a general assembly, according to the bylaws themselves. Without knowing the legal framework in which the association operates, members are deprived of information about the modus operandi of the association to which they belong. This excludes them from the emancipating experience of actively participating in the formation of IAPTI’s internal and external policies.
IAPTI's international aspirations and practices contrast with the local composition of the Board. All of the main officers (president, vice president, secretary general, and treasurer) are from Argentina and have held these positions ever since the association was founded in 2009. Although other Board members have changed over the years, they have likewise all been from Argentina, with a single exception. Furthermore, no elections have been held for any of these positions, even though the bylaws require they be held every four years. The Board thereby fails to reflect or to take advantage of the association's main strength: its rich diversity with members in over eighty countries.
We have reluctantly reached the conclusion that our attempts to promote checks and balances and greater transparency in IAPTI are futile. During the past months, several colleagues—including Diana Coada, Lisa Simpson, Lucille R. Kaplan, Vivian Stevenson, and Jayne Fox—told us they resigned from their staff positions in IAPTI over similar or other equally pressing concerns. We feel we exhausted all possibilities at our disposal to further the mission for which we joined this association. We believe IAPTI can fulfill its objectives only with fundamental structural changes within the association—changes that the Board has consistently resisted.
Therefore, we hereby resign from our positions within IAPTI and no longer wish to remain members of the association.
Catherine V. Howard