UN Security Council - Table in the circle

In some UN Security Council meetings, there is a long table inside the circle of council members. Who sits at this inner table, and what are they doing? (Here’s a picture.)

Weirdly, it appears to be where transcribers sit when the UNSC is debating the text of resolutions.

I couldn’t find anything that specifically mentions that table, incidentally; my answer is based solely on what was going on in the room at the time that the pictures that include the table were taken.

Why is that weird? It’s common in parliamentary assemblies for the clerks, and particularly the shorthand writers, to be seated at a table in the middle. They need to be able to hear and see what’s going on. Plus, depending on their function, they may need to be conveniently located to pass notes, or offer quiet advice or information, to parliamentarians.

Parliament of Australia

New Zealand


Candadian Senate


I’ve always assumed that this is where the translators sit.

No battlemat, so I’ll say yeah, translators.

I doubt that it’s translators - translating on the fly is mentally exhausting, so normally simultaneous translators only serve a stint of 20 minutes or so and then get switched out. Plus, they have to be in a soundproof box so they don’t interfere with the discussion, and you have to potentially have 5 different translators going at once, for the five official UN languages.

More likely table officers, just like in the parliaments UDS linked to.

From here:

Girls in uniform using long sticks to push around little model battleships?

Good photo from 62 years ago! Interestingly it also shows the booths where the simultaneous translators sit. Presumably the “interpreters” referred to in the caption are there to translate something other that the speeches as they are made.

I once had a girlfriend who worked as a translator at the UN in Geneva, and later on, at the EU in Brussels. She would sit, with huge earphones on, in a little booth. Most of the speeches were pre released which made translation easy, but they had to be alert for any ‘off the cuff’ comments. And yes - 20 minutes was enough.