Dynamic Coalition for Linguistic Diversity

Internet Governance Forum

Action Line C8 Cultural et Linguistic Diversity


The Dynamic Coalition for Linguistic Diversity is one of the Dynamic Coalitions recognized within the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) which was constituted by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The World Network for Linguistic Diversity Maaya is presided by his excellency Adama Samssékou, President of the PrepCom of the WSIS Geneva Phase. Under the guidance of its president, the Maaya network is acting as coalition coordinator. The goals of the coalitions are stemming from recommendations 29 and 53 of the Tunis Agenda in regards to Internet Governance, which are:

29. We reaffirm the principles enunciated in the Geneva phase of the WSIS, in December 2003, that the Internet has evolved into a global facility available to the public and its governance should constitute a core issue of the Information Society agenda. The international management of the Internet should be multilateral, transparent and democratic, with the full involvement of governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations. It should ensure an equitable distribution of resources, facilitate access for all and ensure a stable and secure functioning of the Internet, taking into account multilingualism.

53. We commit to working earnestly towards multilingualization of the Internet, as part of a multilateral, transparent and democratic process, involving governments and all stakeholders, in their respective roles. In this context, we also support local content development, translation and adaptation, digital archives, and diverse forms of digital and traditional media, and recognize that these activities can also strengthen local and indigenous communities. We would therefore underline the need to:

  • Advance the process for the introduction of multilingualism in a number of areas including domain names, e-mail addresses and keyword look-up.
  • Implement programmes that allow for the presence of multilingual domain names and content on the Internet and the use of various software models in order to fight against the linguistic digital divide and to ensure the participation of all in the emerging new society.
  • Strengthen cooperation between relevant bodies for the further development of technical standards and to foster their global deployment.

The World Network for Linguistic Diversity Maaya was also designated as the lead moderator for the Linguistic Diversity theme within Action Line C8 Cultural and Linguistic Diversity of the Geneva Plan of Action.

C8. Cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content

23. Cultural and linguistic diversity, while stimulating respect for cultural identity, traditions and religions, is essential to the development of an Information Society based on the dialogue among cultures and regional and international cooperation. It is an important factor for sustainable development.

a) Create policies that support the respect, preservation, promotion and enhancement of cultural and linguistic diversity and cultural heritage within the Information Society, as reflected in relevant agreed United Nations documents, including UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. This includes encouraging governments to design cultural policies to promote the production of cultural, educational and scientific content and the development of local cultural industries suited to the linguistic and cultural context of the users.

b) Develop national policies and laws to ensure that libraries, archives, museums and other cultural institutions can play their full role of content—including traditional knowledge—providers in the Information Society, more particularly by providing continued access to recorded information.

c) Support efforts to develop and use ICTs for the preservation of natural and, cultural heritage, keeping it accessible as a living part of today’s culture. This includes developing systems for ensuring continued access to archived digital information and multimedia content in digital repositories, and support archives, cultural collections and libraries as the memory of humankind.

d) Develop and implement policies that preserve, affirm, respect and promote diversity of cultural expression and indigenous knowledge and traditions through the creation of varied information content and the use of different methods, including the digitization of the educational, scientific and cultural heritage.

e) Support local content development, translation and adaptation, digital archives, and diverse forms of digital and traditional media by local authorities. These activities can also strengthen local and indigenous communities.

f) Provide content that is relevant to the cultures and languages of individuals in the Information Society, through access to traditional and digital media services.

g) Through public/private partnerships, foster the creation of varied local and national content, including that available in the language of users, and give recognition and support to ICT-based work in all artistic fields.

h) Strengthen programmes focused on gender-sensitive curricula in formal and non-formal education for all and enhancing communication and media literacy for women with a view to building the capacity of girls and women to understand and to develop ICT content.

i) Nurture the local capacity for the creation and distribution of software in local languages, as well as content that is relevant to different segments of population, including non-literate, persons with disabilities, disadvantaged and vulnerable groups especially in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

j) Give support to media based in local communities and support projects combining the use of traditional media and new technologies for their role in facilitating the use of local languages, for documenting and preserving local heritage, including landscape and biological diversity, and as a means to reach rural and isolated and nomadic communities.

k) Enhance the capacity of indigenous peoples to develop content in their own languages.

l) Cooperate with indigenous peoples and traditional communities to enable them to more effectively use and benefit from the use of their traditional knowledge in the Information Society.

m) Exchange knowledge, experiences and best practices on policies and tools designed to promote cultural and linguistic diversity at regional and sub-regional levels. This can be achieved by establishing regional, and sub-regional working groups on specific issues of this Plan of Action to foster integration efforts.

n) Assess at the regional level the contribution of ICT to cultural exchange and interaction, and based on the outcome of this assessment, design relevant programmes.

o) Governments, through public/private partnerships, should promote technologies and R&D programmes in such areas as translation, iconographies, voice-assisted services and the development of necessary hardware and a variety of software models, including proprietary, open source software and free software, such as standard character sets, language codes, electronic dictionaries, terminology and thesauri, multilingual search engines, machine translation tools, internationalized domain names, content referencing as well as general and application software.

For reasons of synergy and coherence, the two actions of Maaya, on one side, within the framework of the Internet Governance Forum, and on the other side, within the framework of the Geneva Plan of Action implementation, are gathered within this coalition, under the guidance of President Samassékou. The coalition is therefore also constituting the multi-stakeholder team working towards the implementation of the theme Linguistic Diversity of the Geneva Plan of Action.

Goals of the World Network Maaya, coordinator of the Dynamic Coalition for Linguistic Diversity and moderator of the theme Linguistic Diversity of the Geneva Plan of Action:

  • Encourage civil society, the private sector, research institutions and NGOs, as well as governments and organizations to adopt and implement measures enhancing equitable multilingualism;
  • Promote mother tongue based multilingual education that contributes to value the capacity of free linguistic and cultural expression of the community in order to guaranty both social and gender equality;
  • Promote software localization and equal access of all languages to cyberspace;
  • Facilitate the empowerment of language communities worldwide in developing and defending their own languages and its usage;
  • Contribute to the creation and sharing of language resources;
  • Observe the implementation of language policies, ensure technological monitoring and serve as a focal point for linguistic research projects.

Organization of the Dynamic Coalition for Linguistic Diversity

As said earlier, the Coalition acts also a multi-stakeholder team for the implementation of the theme Linguistic Diversity of the Geneva Plan of Action. The organization includes therefore those two components.

The World Network for Linguistic Diversity Maaya, under the guidance of President Samassékou, is the coordinator of the coalition, and therefore, members of the Maaya network are included in the Coalition in an operational way. Coalition members, however, are not automatically members of the Maaya network. Registration to the Maaya network must be made in accordance with the Network statutes.

Registration to the Dynamic Coalition is an informal process opened to all: intergovernmental organizations, governments, civil society, private sector and all men and women of goodwill. It suffices to register to the mailing list or to write to the coordinator if for one reason or another, a member does not wish to appear in the mailing list. At their requests, coalition members may be listed publicly on the coalition site to allow an inclusive and effective co-operation and dialog.

Current public list of coalition members :

  • Maaya Network (maaya.org)
  • ACSIS Africa Civil Society on the Information Society (www.acsis-africa.org)
  • EuroLinc (www.eurolinc.eu)
  • Институт развития информационного общества – Institute of the Information Society (www.iis.ru)
  • World Tour of the Information Society (wtis.org)

Second meeting of the Internet Governance Forum

The second meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will take place from 12 to 15 November 2007 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The session of the Dynamic Coalition for Linguistic Diversity will be held on November 13th. The speakers are:

Chairwoman: Viola Krebs (Maaya, ICV)

Многосторонние и многоязычные аспекты управления использованием интернета

(Multi-Stakeholder and Multi-Linguistic Aspects of Internet Governance)

Tatiana Ershova (Institute of the Information Society, Moscow, Russia)

Intregración de la traducción por programa en listas de discusión: balance de una experiencia pionera y perspectivas

(Automatic Translation in mailing lists : assessment of a pioneer experiment and perspectives)

Daniel Pimienta (Funredes)

The Languages of the Asian Web

Dr. Shakrange Turrance Nandasara (Advanced Digital Media Technology Center, University of Colombo School of Computing)

The Languages of the African Web

Dr. Shigeaki Kodama (Nagaoka University of Technology)

Diversité linguistique et culturelle en Afrique

(Linguistic and cultural diversity in Africa)

Edgard Mandrault (ACSIS)

Conclusions and Recommendations

HE Adama Samassékou (ACALAN, Maaya)