Global Symposium on Promoting the Multilingual Internet

Presentation on the World Network for Linguistic Diversity (WNLD)

Project at a glance

Dates and Place

09 - 11 May 2006, International Conference Center of Geneva (ICCG), Switzerland


International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and UNESCO

Project details


ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and UNESCO were convening the Global Symposium on Promoting the Multilingual Internet as a follow-up of Phase 2 of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, adopted at the Tunis Phase of WSIS, highlights the importance of multilingualism for bridging the digital divide. It identifies ITU as taking the lead role in the implementation of information and communication infrastructure (WSIS Tunis Agenda Action Line C2), ITU/UNESCO for access to information and knowledge (WSIS Tunis Agenda Action Line C3), and UNESCO for cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content (WSIS Tunis Agenda Action Line C8).


The symposium examined issues highlighted in paragraph 53 of the WSIS Tunis Agenda, including:

  • Options for advancing the process for the introduction of multilingualism in a number of areas including domain names, email addresses and keyword look-up;
  • Options for implementing programmes, also in cooperation with other appropriate organizations, 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 ensure the participation of all in the emerging new society;
  • Options for strengthening cooperation between relevant bodies for the further development of technical standards and to foster their global deployment;
  • In addition the event will review technical solutions and current experiences, identify open issues and discuss a roadmap for further steps to promote multilingualism in the internet.

World Network for Linguistic Diversity

In her presentation, Viola Krebs of ICVolunteers presented the history, aims and objectives of the recently launched World Network for Linguistic Diversity (WNLD). This new world-wide Network was created in Tunis in November 2005 in the context of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and later launched in Paris at the celebration of the International Mother Language Day on 21st February 2006. The Network proposes concrete solutions to the priorities identified by WSIS around linguistic and cultural diversity in cyberspace. Its mission is to value and promote linguistic diversity as the foundation of meaningful human communication. Based on a multi-stakeholder approach, it brings together representatives from all sectors including civil society, governments, international organizations, research centers and universities, media, the private sector and individuals. While the initiative started in the context of the WSIS, it is also planning to associate organizations not solely focusing on cyber issues, such as associations of writers, poets, researchers, designers, media, translators and interpreters.

Role of ICVolunteers

ICVolunteers facilitates the co-secretariat of the Network. It is in this capacity that Ms. Krebs of ICVolunteers participated in the Global Symposium on Promoting the Multilingual Internet.

Short Term Projects

ICVolunteers promotes volunteerism and its recognition, by enhancing civic commitment and involvement, and by providing leadership and links between organizations, individuals and communities. With this perspective, ICVolunteers develops projects and leads initiatives.

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