The joint ITU/UNESCO
Global Symposium on Promoting the Multilingual Internet closed with the
chairman encouraging the two organizations to take a lead role in promoting
international cooperation for developing the multilingual internet and
encouraging interested relevant organizations as well as individuals to
actively join these initiatives and strengthen their cooperation in this
regard. Specifically it was said, there is a need for increased ITU/UNESCO
involvement in the harmonization of standards, in addition to their specific
programmes to promote multilingualism and local content throughout the digital
There is, it was agreed, a huge demand for the support of multiple languages
and responding to this in a more coordinated way, experts concurred is a key
way to avoid fragmentation of the Internet.
Chair, Direk Charoenphol, National Telecommunications Commission, NTC, Thailand: “It
is fundamental that, in the end, multilingualism – whether using IDNs, keywords
or contents – be natively supported in operating systems and browsers, not
retrofitted, to avoid the need for plug-ins, which creates a constant source of
user and operational difficulties.”
Houlin Zhao, Director, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, ITU said: “By
organizing this event, ITU has demonstrated its determination to work on these
issues.” He thanked UNESCO for its support in the organization of the event.
Elizabeth Longworth, Director, Information Society Division, UNESCO: "We
should not talk about culture as a feature of communications technology -
rather, the internet is a domain of human activity in its own right, where
language and content are manifestations of the users' cultures and so the focus
should be on the users' ability to participate, to become content providers and
to navigate across linguistic boundaries."
A roadmap or guidelines highlighting steps towards a multilingual Internet is
seen as an important initiative. It was agreed that this is a complex task that
requires substantial and strengthened cooperation between relevant bodies.
During the three-day Symposium, a number of presentations were made and
discussions focused on standardization activities and technical solutions for
internationalized domain names (IDNs), for equipping non-scripted languages and
allowing them to be present on the internet, the development and promotion of
local contents, and measurements of the current linguistic diversity on the
internet. Perspectives of domain name registries and an overview of the
associated intellectual property issues that arise when multilingual domain
names are deployed were also presented.