Realizing a multilingual Internet

3 December 2008 - A Main Session on Diversity in Hyderabad, India


Chair: Ajit Balakrishnan, Chief Executive Officer, Rediff.Com

Miriam Nisbet, Director, Information Society Division, UNESCO 


  • Alex Corenthin, NIC SN (Senegal), President of ISOC Senegal and lecturer at a Polytechnic Institute of the Check Anta Diop University of Dakar (Ecole Supérieure Polytechnique) 

  • Manal Ismail, GAC member, Egypt 

  • Hiroshi Kawamura, President of Daisy consortium
  • Viola Krebs, MAAYA, ICTV 

  • Tulika Pandey, Additional Director, Department of Information Technology, 
    Ministry for Communications & Information Technology, Government of India 

  • S. Ramakrishnan, CEO of the Centre for Development of Advanced 
    Computing (C-DAC), India

Panel Description:

The session will discuss issues related to Multilingualism and Diversity for the 
Internet of today as well as the Internet of the future when we added some 
billion(s) of more people. The session will discuss what issues exists, might 
exist in the future, what issues have to do with governance, and finally what 
we can do about it. Specifically the goal is to point at actions that can be 
stronger with the help of cooperation. The session will focus on solutions, 
activities and processes attempting to achieve a truly multilingual Internet 
available for everyone. 

Discussion will develop around three core issues:

• Content in local languages. People must be able to create and receive 
information in their local language, and to be able to express themselves 
in ways their peers can understand. This can be the ability to send and 
receive email, or to create content online for the web or new social 
network systems and user-generated content. Increasingly, online 
communication is occurring in mediums other than the written form. 

• Localisation and availability of tools. Software, including manuals and 
training, must be translated and localized to meet local needs. Some 
hardware, such as keyboards and also tools that support accessibility 
needs of people with disabilities need to be adjusted or developed. 

• Internationalisation of identifiers. Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) 
and internationalised email addresses need to be supported in software. 
Standards need to be developed further, and Policy regimes for registries 
and registrars of identifiers need to be developed, agreed and deployed. 

The discussions are to be based on end users needs, from three perspectives: 
Technology, Policy, Cultures and Languages.

As Tunis Agenda 49 noted the criticality of implementing multilingualization in 
the Internet development - We encourage the realization of multilingualism in 
the Internet development environment, and we support the development of 
software that renders itself easily to localization, and enables users to choose 
appropriate solutions from different software models including open-source, 
free and proprietary software. -, the panel on multilingualism at IGF will 
discuss what efforts should be made to achieve the realization of 
multilingualism on the Internet. 

The panel is important because of reasons outlined in Tunis Agenda 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.

According to Tunis Agenda 29, - 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, should be interested and participate in the discussions. This 
implies all stakeholders interested in the development of multilingualism to 
achieve maximum access to and use of the Internet should be interested in 
the panel. 

Related workshops include, but are not limited do: 


• If you are interested in exploring what are the issues in moving to 
the new multicultural reality or where are we now? or what 
additional work is needed to enable and facilitate the continued 
spread of the Internet into populations with different 
languages? etc, please go to ISOC’s workshop titled as Steps toward 
an Internet that is multilingual, yet remains global. 

• If you are interested in exploring the principle of global 
compatibility of the Internet and the principle of access to local 
culture and language in the context of Internationalized 
Domain Names, please go to NIDA/TuDelft’s workshop titled as 
Access to Local Culture and Language (ALCL). 

• If you are interested in knowing the way in which 
Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) provide an important 
component of a general strategy for making the Internet, and 
its identifiers, accessible to a broad range of populations, 
including populations who are not comfortable using the 
Roman-based writing systems, please go to ICANN, APRALO, 
ALAC workshop titled Internationalized Domain Names: Myths and 

Opportunities. Access and Disability 

• If you are interested in knowing more about how to reduce 
illiteracy and provide access and accessible content for 
marginalized groups of society including the elders and people 
with disabilities, please go to ITU’s workshop titled as Including 
Accessibility and Human Factors in the Universalization of the Internet. 

• If you are interested in International and national legal 
instruments and strategies promoting the accessibility of the 
Internet for people with disabilities and the role of the Internet 
in contributing to the implementation of these instruments 
(e.g. United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with 
Disabilities, Council of Europe Disability Action Plan 2006-2015, 
national e-accessibility strategies, etc.), please go to Council of 
Europe’s workshop titled as Internet Accessibility for people with 

Legal Challenges

• If you are interested in emerging intellectual property rights of 
local identifiers, please go to WIPO’s workshop titled as Digital 
Identifiers and IPRs. 

• If you are interested in the legal challenges in introducing 
multilingualism of Internationalized domain names and 
internationalized email addresses, please go to Cyberlaws.Net’s 
workshop titled as Legal challenges before Internationalized Domain 

• If you are interested in the legal issues of information security, 
spam, electronic governance, and data protection, please go to 
Cyberlaws.Net’s workshop titled as Four Sisters for Developing 
Countries – Information Security, Spam, Electronic Governance and 
Data protection.