I'm looking at a political document where Country A is saying Country B has no right of say over Area C.

A cursory search did not turn up a legal term but I do not have an adequate legal dictionary on hand.

They do not mean right of way (I can tell from other contextual elements) but they could mean control. However, I get the sense that a finer nuance is intended.

The text is written by a non-native English speaker.

  • 2
    Hmm, Google Books does have a number of citations for it, mostly in a legal or legislative context. Many seem to co-locate with German terms or German-influenced works.
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 25 '14 at 19:43
  • 2
    Jurisdiction. legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/jurisdiction
    – Joe Dark
    Nov 25 '14 at 19:46
  • the phrase that they use is "Country B has no jurisdiction or right of say" ... are they being redundant then?
    – cmcf
    Nov 25 '14 at 19:48
  • the legal links seem to have both the meaning "right to have views considered/heard/taken into account" and "right to participate in decisions" I may want to hunt down a solid legal dictionary to get an answer...
    – cmcf
    Nov 25 '14 at 19:52
  • 2
    Could be from the French "droit de parole," which could mean "[no] right/authority to speak [for/over] Area C."
    – Papa Poule
    Nov 25 '14 at 20:09

(Could be from the French "droit de parole," which could mean "[no] right/authority to speak [for/over] Area C." – Papa Poule 2 hours ago)

Thinking more about this I went from "right/authority to speak for/over" to "power of attorney for/over," which brought me back to another French word, "mandat," which led me to "mandate:" "[no] mandate over Area C," from/to which I think one could get "right of say" pretty easily, especially if the document itself had been transcribed/translated many times between several languages before even getting to the final translator.

ADDED Nov. 30

The concept of “mandate/mandate over” as suggested above comes from the use of the term "mandate" by the League of Nations, especially with regard to former territories of the German and Ottoman Empires, but also with regard to Palestine.

Therefore, if the document that you are examining involves these former League of Nations Mandates, especially if originally drafted between 1919 and the establishment of the United Nations in 1945, then “mandate/mandate over” would be historically accurate and appropriate.

Even if written post WWII about these formerly mandated territories (or, in my opinion, even about any other territories written at any time), “mandate/mandate over” would still be an acceptable translation/substitute for “right of say” (and vice versa).
However, based primarily on this site concerning “right of say,” I’d suggest that “control over;” (pouvoir=)"power over;” or (autorité=)"authority over" would be the three best and most clearly understood choices to replace "right of say over" if former League of Nations mandated territories are not involved (I'd pick these three over all the others in the list of "Other Translations," because 1) "control" is listed as the "Related Translation" for both the "autorité/authority" entry and the "pouvoir/power" entry, 2) "power" is the direct translation of "pouvoir," and 3) "authority is the direct translation of "autorité").

(first entry for “right of say” from the above site [second alphabetically after autorité/authority])
RELATED TRANSLATIONS=control; right of say
OTHER TRANSLATIONS=authorities; authority; capacity; command; competence; dominion;
establishment; force; MANDATE; mastery; power; qualification; rule;
strength; warrant


No, it's actually rich, and the author was maybe bragging about his knowledge of latin as the right of say is simply the literal for jurisdiction (see also this):

Middle English: from Old French jurediction, from Latin jurisdictio(n-), from jus, jur- 'law' + dictio 'saying' (from dicere 'say').

early 14c. "administration of justice" (attested from mid-13c. in Anglo-Latin), from Old French juridiccion (13c.) and directly from Latin iurisdictionem (nominative iurisdictio) "administration of justice, jurisdiction," from ius (genitive iuris; see jurist) "right, law" + dictio "a saying" (see diction). Meaning "extent or range of administrative power" is from late 14c. Related: Jurisdictional

Contextual background (see droit3, subst. masc., I-B-2.):

Dire le droit. Exposer le contenu du droit : 6. ... la doctrine selon laquelle, en l'absence d'une juridiction spécialement organisée, et en vertu de sa mission générale de dire le droit, le juge ordinaire devait accueillir pour examen les exceptions d'inconstitutionnalité élevées à l'encontre des lois dans les procès dont il était saisi. Vedel, Manuel élémentaire de dr. constit.,1949, p. 555.


Jurisdicteur, subst. masc.,rare. Celui qui dit le droit. Cuique suum, le jurisdicteur a du bon, il est le gardien des mœurs (Amiel,Journal,1866,p. 193).

Also, same entry:

♦ Fam. ,,Cela n'est point de votre juridiction. Se dit à quelqu'un qui se mêle d'une chose qu'il n'entend pas`` (Ac. 1835-1935).

The latter is interesting because as the many documents on jurisdiction confirm, this is mostly about the authority of courts. The application to country is casual/elliptical imho. Territorial claim could be proper but there lacks sufficient context in what you produce to infer further. Furthermore, there exists a pitfall for translation whereby you might see "the jurisdiction of the parliament" for instance. Be mindful historically in some contexts (including France pre-Revolution), a parliament is nothing more than a court/tribunal and not the legislative assembly we're mostly used to. See this.

  • you raise an important point re translation, as this text will be translated after editing. Researching further into past documents from this same author (sorry I can't give more details) it would appear that using the phrase "jurisdiction and right of say" has been used a few times in the same context and translated in several different ways. Since there is no exact meaning, as their would be if this were in fact a legal term in English, translators for different languages have interpreted it in every way we have suggested here, i.e. control, right to intervene, droit de regard(!) etc
    – cmcf
    Nov 26 '14 at 19:32
  • @cmcf The answer needs to be peer validated. Usually jurisdiction is something for the courts; you have a territorial jurisdiction and a jurisdiction on subject matter - "place" won't be a showstopper for a court. It can be a showstopper for executing a judgment. The right to say the law in relation to a dispute, because it is a prime function of a court, it can therefore be said to be related to adjudication. My opinion is that this can be confused with policy or control re: state. Yet in a context of a dispute about territorial waters, jurisdiction is possible i.e maritime. Context.
    – user98955
    Nov 26 '14 at 20:31
  • as a bit of a non-update, I made it to the library to look in a few legal dictionaries and : nothing. so I am thinking the intention was "jurisdiction" conflated with the parliamentary proceedings idea of "right of reply" and good ol' "right of way" might be what is at work here.
    – cmcf
    Mar 4 '15 at 16:21
  • @cmcf I guess as long as you use context with either the idea of control of or that of making decisions about. I don't have access to the source document so it's really hard to tell. Either they don't get to decide what is happening there, or they don't have control or even physical access to that strip of land.
    – user98955
    Mar 5 '15 at 12:31
  • ah, the sticky wicket that is international politics ;)
    – cmcf
    Mar 18 '15 at 14:52

The word you're looking for is not jurisdiction (as mentioned in the comments, that's applies to legal matters) but sovereignty. E.g. sovereignty over Hong Kong.

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