UNESCO convenes an International Expert Group Meeting on the promotion of Arabic language on the Internet and in multi-stakeholder processes

UNESCO, together with The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and in cooperation with the International Centre for Terminology (INFOTERM) have initiated in 2013 the project entitled “Developing language tools and building institutional capacities with respect to the promotion of Arabic language on the Internet and in mulita-stakeholder processes”, with the aim to provide Arabic-speaking countries and communities with specific language tools, in particular with a glossary on Internet Governance (IGG) for their effective participation in the relevant multi-stakeholder processes.

As the debate on the Internet Governance related issues is rapidly growing among Member States and other multi-stakeholder groups, and the issues are discussed during various major international gatherings, it is important to provide the non-English/French language speakers with appropriate language tools, such as specialized glossaries. The meeting that started its work today at UNESCO in Paris, with eminent experts representing some 15 countries, reflects precisely this foremost concern and will aim to achieve the following objectives :

  • Present a methodology applied for the development of the IGG as a standard practice and possible procedure for the development of other glossaries;
  • Consult experts on the IGG in Arabic, review and revise the proposed entries;
  • Validate the IGG in Arabic on a consensus based model;
  • Identify the next steps to ensure an adaptation and localization of the IGG at regional level,
  • Discuss the conditions for ensuring the sustainability of the IGG.

At the end of this initiative, it is expected that Arabic speaking countries could benefit from using the glossary of the Internet governance terms developed in a fully collaborative and multi-stakeholder way in order to help them developing common positions, contributing to decision making processes and thus facilitating their effective engagement in multi-stakeholder processes and Internet Governance mechanisms.

During the opening plenary session, in his introductory remarks, H. E. Mohamed Amr, Chair of the Executive Board and Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Egypt to UNESCO underscored: “Despite recent considerable technological developments, many linguistic communities are still unable to fully enjoy and exercise their rights, express their opinions, communicate and participate in social, political and economic processes. Your goal is to suggest ways for ensuring that there is an adequate use of supportive tools, and that appropriate content and services are available in Arabic.  Your work today will make a difference for tomorrow.” 

At this session, Ms. Chafica Haddad, Chair of the intergovernmental council for the Information for All Programme (IFAP) presented the main objectives of the Programme and its priority areas, including multilingualism, as well as its salient activities and recent achievements. In that respect, she warmly thanked H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Amr and the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt for their substantial support provided for the translation into Arabic of the IFAP Strategic Plan Report (2008-2013). She then invited the participants to use this report in developing and further promoting the objectives of the Information for All Programme in their respective countries. After presenting the IFAP activities in the area of multilingualism, she concluded by emphasizing that “one of the key challenges to information for all is the promotion of linguistic diversity in cyberspace”.

The renowned experts were also warmly greeted by Dr. Boyan Radoykov from the Knowledge Societies Division of UNESCO, who presented in his opening address the historical and institutional perspective of UNESCO’s work in the area of multilingualism as well as the process that led to the adoption and subsequent implementation of the unique normative instrument within the UN system – the Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace. He ended by emphasizing that UNESCO has always considered cultural diversity and multilingualism as key factors in fostering pluralistic, equitable, open and inclusive knowledge societies and that the Organization strongly encourages its Member States to formulate comprehensive language-related policies, to allocate resources and to develop and use appropriate tools in order to promote linguistic diversity on the Internet and in the media.