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Communication and Information Sector's news service

Strengthening multilingualism in cyberspace

11-10-2010 (Vilnius)
Strengthening multilingualism in cyberspace
Rod Beckstrom and
Janis Karklins
During the 5th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) last month in Vilnius, Lithuania, UNESCO and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) agreed to work together to further strengthen multilingualism in cyberspace and facilitate the successful implementation of internationalized country code top-level domains (IDN ccTLDs).
At IGF 2010, UNESCO and ICANN signed a Letter of Intent, which sets forward a common interest regarding the internationalization of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS). The Letter of Intent aims at the implementation of the Cooperation Agreement signed in December 2009. Both Organizations agreed to collaborate in the development and internationalization of the Internet DNS and to undertake a variety of activities.

The major objective of this joint effort is for UNESCO to provide assistance to its Member States by creating a reference table of country names and abbreviations for countries whose official languages are based on Cyrillic script. Other languages and scripts are expected to follow.

At the UNESCO Open Forum organized in the framework of IGF 2010, Rod Beckstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer of ICANN, said, “ICANN welcomes UNESCO's plan to provide linguistic support to those who want to participate in the fast track process but need linguistic help in preparing their request.”

Janis Karklins, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, confirmed that “UNESCO, with its mandate, is well placed to invite, encourage and assist its Member States by participating in the development of an IDN ccTLD country names / abbreviations reference table. Both Organizations recognize the importance of the Internet for building inclusive knowledge societies, and strengthening and promoting cultural diversity and multilingualism in cyberspace.”

The exact scope of the project is yet to be defined, but the concrete joint activity will already facilitate the introduction of internationalized domain names at the top level, helping UNESCO Member States to prepare their IDN ccTLD applications.

The Letter of Intent is available below in English in PDF format.
Strengthening multilingualism in cyberspace UNESCO and ICANN Letter of Intent signing ceremony at IGF 2010 in Vilnius

Related themes/countries

      · Lithuania
      · Multilingualism in Cyberspace
      · Internet Governance
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