WSIS mentions of languages & linguistic diversity

Don Osborn dzo at BISHARAT.NET
Sun Dec 21 22:52:57 UTC 2003

FYI... Below are excerpts from the Declaration and Plan of Action of the World Summit on the Information Society that specifically mention languages or linguistic diversity (in the context of ICT and the "information society").  The entire documents can be read at|1160.asp

Don Osborn

Document WSIS-03/GENEVA/DOC/4-E12
December 2003
Original: English

Declaration of Principles

Building the Information Society: a global challenge in the new Millennium

7) ICT applications: benefits in all aspects of life
51. ... Applications should be user-friendly, accessible to all, affordable,
adapted to local needs in languages and cultures, and support sustainable
development. To this effect, local authorities should play a major role in
the provision of ICT services for the benefit of their populations.

8) Cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content
52. Cultural diversity is the common heritage of humankind.  The Information
Society should be founded on and stimulate respect for cultural identity,
cultural and linguistic diversity, traditions and religions, and foster
dialogue among cultures and civilizations.  The promotion, affirmation and
preservation of diverse cultural identities and languages as reflected in
relevant agreed United Nations documents including UNESCO's Universal
Declaration on Cultural Diversity, will further enrich the Information

53. The creation, dissemination and preservation of content in diverse
languages and formats must be accorded high priority in building an
inclusive Information Society, paying particular attention to the diversity
of supply of creative work and due recognition of the rights of authors and
artists. It is essential to promote the production of and accessibility to
all content - educational, scientific, cultural or recreational - in diverse
languages and formats. The development of local content suited to domestic
or regional needs will encourage social and economic development and will
stimulate participation of all stakeholders, including people living in
rural, remote and marginal areas.

Document WSIS-03/GENEVA/DOC/5-E
12 December 2003
Original: English

Plan of Action

B.  Objectives, goals and targets
6. Based on internationally agreed development goals, including those in the
Millennium Declaration, which are premised on international cooperation,
indicative targets may serve as global references for improving connectivity
and access in the use of ICTs in promoting the objectives of the Plan of
Action, to be achieved by 2015. These targets may be taken into account in
the establishment of the national targets, considering the different
national circumstances:
i) to encourage the development of content and to put in place technical
conditions in order to facilitate the presence and use of all world
languages on the Internet;

C. Action Lines
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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