Towards International Standards for a Truly Multilingual Global Internet

13 November 2007 - A Workshop on Diversity in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


The workshop aims at aiding international cooperation in establishing standards for a multilingual global Internet. It is intended to build on the one held between UNESCO, ICANN and NTRA of Egypt at the IGF in Athens, and titled “Towards a multilingual global Internet: Avoiding the Risk of Fragmentation”. The workshop is particularly relevant to understanding the key issues at stake when discussing the broad theme “Diversity - Promoting multilingualism and local content”. It also fundamentally contributes to the understanding of the theme “Openness” as multilingualism on the Internet is essential to ensure freedom of expression and the free flow of information, ideas and knowledge in cyberspace.


UNESCO, ITU, and ICANN jointly organize the workshop as the three organizations play a pivotal role in this area.


Adama Samassékou (Moderator):
Mr. Samassékou President, with ministerial rank, of the African Academy of Languages. He served between July 2002 and December 2003 as the President of the PrepCom of the Geneva phase of the World Summit of Information Society (WSIS). Previously, he was Malian Minister of Education (1993-2000) and former spokesperson for the Government of Mali (1997-2000). Since 2003, he is a member of the Haut Conseil de la Francophonie.

Christine Arida (Panelist):

Mrs. Arida is the Director for Telecom Planning and Services at the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Egypt (NTRA). She has been involved in a number of successful initiatives that serve Egypt’s national plan of “Building its Information Society”. Among those are the Free Internet Initiative (January 2002), the PC for Every Home Initiative (December 2002), and the Broadband Initiative (May 2004). She is a member of the IGF Advisory Group.

Cláudio Menezes (Panelist):
Mr. Menezes is the Administrative Coordinator of the Brazilian Institute for Information in Science and Technology within the Brazilian Ministry for Science and Technology. He served in UNESCO between 1987 and 2007 where he was Senior Programme Specialist in charge of multilingualism in the digital world/Internet, promotion of ICT accessibility by persons with disabilities, access to scientific digital information, and e-governance.

Dr. Govind (Panelist):

Dr. Govind is the Director of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of India.

John Klensin (Panelist):

Dr. Klensin is now an independent consultant following a distinguished career as the Internet Architecture Vice President at AT&T, Distinguished Engineering Fellow at MCI WorldCom, and Principal Research Scientist at MIT. He served on the Internet Architecture Board from 1996-2002 and was its Chair from 2000 until the end of his term. Earlier, he served as IETF Area Director for Applications and was Chair, Co-chair, and/or Editor for IETF Working Groups focused on messaging and IETF process issues.

Malcolm Johnson (Panelist):

Mr. Johnson was elected Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau by the Plenipotentiary Conference, 2006 in Antalya, Turkey. He has extensive knowledge of ITU gained over 20 years. In addition to his ITU experience, Mr. Johnson has four years’ experience working in the European Commission. Prior to his election as Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, he was International Coordinator with lead responsibility for UK in ITU and CEPT at the United Kingdom’s Office of Communications (Ofcom).

Vint Cerf (Panelist):

Dr. Cerf is vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google. In this role, he is responsible for identifying new enabling technologies to support the development of advanced Internet-based products and services from Google. He is the former senior vice president of Technology Strategy for MCI. He is the former chairman of board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and the founding president and former chairman of board of the Internet Society (ISOC).

Aditional Information

Workshop Programme:

Opening – 15 minutes welcome address by:

Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General
Miriam Nisbet, Director, Information Society Division, UNESCO
Paul Twomey, President and CEO, Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

Main Session – 75 minutes panel discussion:

Panel moderator and speakers are listed above.

The discussion will be revolving around the coordination of efforts among various players and stakeholders, towards a coherent and multilingual Internet in an attempt to bridge the digital and knowledge divides while preserving the stability, integrity and security of the Internet.

Interpretation will be provided in 4 languages: English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.