Multilingual Domain Names: Joint ITU / WIPO Symposium
International Conference Center of Geneva (CICG)
December 6-7, 2001





In association with the Multilingual Internet Names Consortium

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Closing Remarks of Day One of the 
Joint ITU/WIPO Symposium on Multilingual Domain Names 
6 December 2001 
prepared by Simone Meijer (NL Administration)

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have now come to the end of our session for the first day of the Joint ITU/WIPO Symposium on Multilingual Domain Names. Let me take you on a “bird’s eye overview” tour of the topics that we have touched on today.

We started with an overview of the technical components of the current domain name system. We learned that whereas computers operate using numbers, human beings respond more easily to names.

The importance of the principles of interoperability, both culturally and linguistically, has been emphasized by many speakers today. Furthermore, the importance of having a secure network and that it ensures that the person we seek to communicate with via the Internet is in fact the person addressed, has been highlighted more than once! In other words, the risks of fraud and spoofing should be minimized.

Developing multilingualism on the Internet poses new technical and policy-related obstacles and questions. We have seen an interesting language and script matrix. With 3’500 languages spoken worldwide, and numerous scripts used to write those languages, this matrix might be extended considerably.

Surveys have shown that nowadays 55% of Internet content consists of non-English material. This might encourage all of us to study additional languages in order to gain access to the wealth of cultural heritage available on the Internet.

It has been pointed out by several speakers that uncoordinated, or disparate and incompatible solutions are, I quote, “bad, bad, bad from the point of view of engineers”. But those same incompatibilities might not be so “bad, bad, bad for lawyers….” Indeed, they might provide substantial extra work! It is therefore essential that engineers and lawyers join forces in their efforts to solve problems related to the internationalization of the Internet domain name system.

Other issues of importance that have been mentioned were: consumer rights, intellectual property issues, anti-cybersquatting measures and cultural and linguistic differences.

However, working in this fascinating and rapidly changing world of telecommunications and the Internet, we should not forget those to whom all our efforts are directed. In the end, it is essential that the needs and the requirements of the common user be met. All he or she requires is easy and affordable access to the Web, whether this is effected using keywords or via the domain name system.

To conclude, one can say that for the successful further development of the internationalization of the Internet, mutual respect for all languages and their scripts is essential, and the different efforts to attain the goal of an internationalized Internet domain name system should be coordinated.

The purpose of this symposium is to provide a platform for exchange of information in order to find solutions that satisfy the needs of the global Internet community.

I hope that today will have provided the necessary information for a considerable step forward on the path towards bridging the “digital divide”.

Tomorrow, our colleagues from WIPO will further elaborate on the intellectual property aspects related to multilingual Internet domain names.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your participation in this first day, led by ITU. Furthermore, I would again like to express my gratitude to ITU for having given me this opportunity to chair the symposium today. I thank them for the confidence they have placed in me.

I wish you all a very good evening and I hope to meet you again at tomorrow’s session, to be led by WIPO.



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Updated : 12.12.2001