UNESCO enters partnership to advance on-line linguistic diversity

10 December 2009

A big step towards promoting linguistic diversity on the Internet was taken today, with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) signing an agreement to help put the first multilingual domain names into operation.

A big step towards promoting linguistic diversity on the Internet was taken today, with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) signing an agreement to help put the first multilingual domain names into operation.

Until now, domain names in Internet address – such as those ending in .org or .com – were written exclusively in the Latin alphabet.

Last month, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which assigns online addresses to Internet users, started accepting requests from around the world for new country codes in Arabic, Chinese and other scripts, with the view that non-Latin script users eventually will have access to addresses completely in their own languages.

Under the new agreement signed today, UNESCO and ICANN will join forces to bring greater numbers of people into the information network, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said.

“The Internet must be linguistically diverse so that all language groups can harness its unique potential,” she stressed.

For its part, UNESCO will call upon its network of linguistic experts to help in the process, inform Member States about Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), and set up working groups to help developing and least developed nations take part fully.

The agency has championed the international community’s four basic principles for the creation of “knowledge societies”: freedom of expression; quality education for all; universal access to information and knowledge; and respect for cultural and linguistic diversity.

 

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