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Verbatim Reporters

Verbatim or “word for word” transcripts are official records of the proceedings of certain United Nations bodies, such as the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Disarmament Commission and other bodies.

Verbatim records are issued simultaneously in the six official languages of the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Verbatim reporters translate and edit the speeches delivered by delegates, using the written statements and audio recordings (of the original or the interpreting) for reference. Combining the skills of transcription, translation, editing and fact-checking, verbatim reporters ensure the substantive accuracy of all statements, while maintaining a uniformly high standard of style. They work under tight deadlines: records of Security Council meetings are issued overnight, and records of meetings of other bodies are issued within a few days.

Because verbatim reporters produce records of some of the United Nations’ most important and high-level meetings, they witness history in the making as they record global debates on the most vital issues of worldwide significance.

N.B. All verbatim reporting posts are at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

  • Challenges of being a UN verbatim reporter: Verbatim reporters must master a wide range of skills not normally associated with linguistics. These include a thorough knowledge and understanding of international affairs, highly developed research skills, an in-depth mastery of parliamentary procedure, and the ability to work creatively under pressure. The fact that most of these skills are learned on the job does not necessarily make them easier to acquire.
  • Rewards of being a UN verbatim reporter: Verbatim reporting can be very exciting and exhilarating. Because verbatim reporters deal with the spoken, rather than the written word, the variety of expression, the use of regional idioms and accents, and the subtleties of oratory make every assignment a unique creative challenge.
  • Excellent writing skills in their main language and a good grasp of a broad range of subjects, covering the political, social, legal, economic, financial, administrative, scientific and technical fields.
  • A high level of concentration and the ability to work under continuous stress.
  • Ability to meet tight deadlines and maintain required productivity without compromising quality.
  • Ability to translate from at least two of the six official languages into their main language.
  • Ability to conduct research, using a variety of open and in-house reference sources relevant to the text at hand.
  • Ability to work collaboratively and willingness to learn from others.
  • Ability to work effectively with people of different national, linguistic and cultural backgrounds, with sensitivity and respect for diversity.

United Nations verbatim reporters must:

  • Pass the United Nations competitive examination for verbatim reporters.
  • Hold a first-level degree from a university or institution of equivalent status (such as a recognized school of translation), normally one at which the language of instruction is the verbatim reporter's main language.
  • Have as their main language one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
  • In the case of French, Russian and Spanish verbatim reporters, have a perfect command, respectively, of French, Russian or Spanish, which must be their main language, as well as an excellent knowledge of both English and another official language of the United Nations.
  • In the case of Arabic and Chinese verbatim reporters, have a perfect command, respectively, of Arabic or Chinese, which must be their main language, and an excellent knowledge of English; knowledge of another official language of the United Nations is desirable.
  • In the case of English verbatim reporters, have a perfect command of English, which must be their main language, and an excellent knowledge of both French and another official language of the United Nations.
  • Have knowledge of word-processing programs.