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Re: [Membership] Language, the Internet, and the United Nations

Joseph LeBaron a écrit:

> If you review my posts, you will find no argument that English should 
> be the ex officio language of ICANN.  Or that the at-large membership 
> should be restricted to English speakers.  I argue simply that 
> language, whether English, French, Spanish, or Chinese, should be made 
> as irrelevant as possible. That means favoring no language over another.  

As with the situation that has produced affirmative action programs, the
only way to create equality is to actively affirm the use of languages other 
than the one presently in use, by creating mechanisms that support their
If that is not done, the status quo - defined by an exclusive use of English
will remain.

> That means not making language an organizing principle for membership 
> or administration.

> The English language has been the organizing principle for all 
> activities since the emission of the White Paper. In order to broaden 
> the scope of the NewCo, the use of other languages should be permitted 
> and encouraged. If this is not done, the ICANN and the SOs 
> will continue to be dominated exclusively by a minority: those in the 
> world who already have mastered English.

> I know you don't like to use the United Nations as a model 

This has nothing whatsoever to do with what I may like or dislike. The facts
are what they are. The policies of the U.N. with respect to languages, which
define the ethnicities that fight over illogically-drawn national
boundaries, as in my examples, have been abominable. The U.N. leadership,
accepting ipso facto the arbitrary boundaries of political states in lieu of
the natural boundaries of language and culture, have caused rather than
cured world strife. Their pretext and excuse is that they are dealing with
politics. The Internet does not have this pretext. National political
boundaries are nothing to the Internet. Language is all.

> (although I
> recommend that model not in terms of its politics but simply in terms of its
> administrative practices). 

I know nothing of the U.N.'s administration, nor does it enter into this
discussion. What we are dealing with here is the representation in an
international organization of a vast number of users spread throughout the
world. Their organization within a general membership is necessarily
political, and ought not to be restricted, as it now is, by a rule that they
must speak English or they are not heard, because that is the effect of the
present situation.

> Just as English is not the ex officio language
> of the U.N., so it should not be the official or unofficial language of

Yet that is precisely what it now is. I propose that we do something to
change this situation, so that those who haven't mastered English yet and
who use the Internet may participate.
> As I have stated earlier, there should be several official languages, used
> in ICANN's formal proceedings and in its official publications.

I would not disagree, although this will be hard to implement. What I have
suggested is a first stage: the encouragement of the use of languages other
than English in ICANN's at-large membership, and the allowance of
group-formation around these languages if it occurs, rather than a
restriction of organization by geographical boundaries.