Promotion and use of multilingualism and universal access to cyberspace (2003)
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Promotion and use of multilingualism and universal access to cyberspace (2003)

he General Conference of UNESCO, recognizing the importance of promoting multilingualism and equitable access to information and knowledge, especially in the public domain, adopted the following Recommendation at its 32nd session (30 September – 17 October 2003).

Through this Recommendation, which proposes measures fostering universal access to digital resources and services, and facilitating the preservation of their cultural and language diversity, UNESCO is encouraging its Member States to support equitable and affordable access to information and to promote the development of a multicultural information society.

Development of Multilingual Content and Systems

1. The public and private sectors and the civil society at local, national, regional and

international levels should work to provide the necessary resources and take the necessary

measures to alleviate language barriers and promote human interaction on the Internet by encouraging the creation and processing of, and access to, educational, cultural and scientific content in digital form, so as to ensure that all cultures can express themselves and have access to cyberspace in all languages, including indigenous ones.

2. Member States and international organizations should encourage and support capacity building for the production of local and indigenous content on the Internet.

3. Member States should formulate appropriate national policies on the crucial issue of language survival in cyberspace, designed to promote the teaching of languages, including mother tongues, in cyberspace. International support and assistance to developing countries should be strengthened and extended to facilitate the development of freely accessible materials on language education in electronic form and to the enhancement of human capital skills in this area.

4. Member States, international organizations and information and communication technology industries should encourage collaborative participatory research and development on, and local adaptation of, operating systems, search engines and web browsers with extensive multilingual capabilities, online dictionaries and terminologies. They should support international cooperative efforts with regard to automated translation services accessible to all, as well as intelligent linguistic systems such as those performing multilingual information retrieval, summarizing/abstracting and speech understanding, while fully respecting the right of translation of authors.

5. UNESCO, in cooperation with other international organizations, should establish a collaborative online observatory on existing policies, regulations, technical recommendations, and best practices relating to multilingualism and multilingual resources and applications, including innovations in language computerization.

Facilitating Access to Networks and Services

6. Member States and international organizations should recognize and support universal access to the Internet as an instrument for promoting the realization of the human rights as defined in Articles 19 and 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

7. Member States and international organizations should promote access to the Internet as a service of public interest through the adoption of appropriate policies in order to enhance the process of empowering citizenship and civil society, and by encouraging proper implementation of, and support to, such policies in developing countries, with due consideration of the needs of rural communities.

8. In particular, Member States and international organizations should establish mechanisms at the local, national, regional and international levels to facilitate universal access to the Internet through affordable telecommunications and Internet costs with special consideration given to the needs of public service and educational institutions, and of disadvantaged and disabled population groups. New incentives in this area should be designed towards this end including public-private partnerships to encourage investment and the lowering of financial barriers to the use of ICT, such as taxes and customs duties on informatics equipment, software and services.

9. Member States should encourage Internet service providers (ISPs) to consider provision of concessionary rates for Internet access in public service institutions, such as schools, academic institutions, museums, archives and public libraries, as a transitional measure towards universal access to cyberspace.

10. Member States should encourage the development of information strategies and models that facilitate community access and reach out to all levels of society, including the setting up of community projects and fostering the emergence of local information and communication technology leaders and mentors. Strategies should also support cooperation on ICT among public service institutions, as a means of reducing the cost of access to Internet services.

11. Interconnection on a negotiated cost-sharing basis in the spirit of international cooperation should be encouraged between national Internet peering points combining the traffic of private and non-profit ISPs in developing countries and peering points in other countries whether developing or industrialized.

12. Regional organizations and forums should encourage the establishment of inter- and intra-regional networks powered by high capacity regional backbones to connect each country within a global network in an open competitive environment.

13. Concerted efforts within the United Nations system should promote the sharing of information about and experience on the use of ICT-based networks and services in socioeconomic development, including open source technologies, as well as policy formulation and capacity-building in developing countries.

14. Member States and international organizations should promote appropriate partnerships in the management of domain names, including multilingual domain names.

Development of Public Domain Content

15. Member States should recognize and enact the right of universal online access to public and government-held records including information relevant for citizens in a modern democratic society, giving due account to confidentiality, privacy and national security concerns, as well as to intellectual property rights to the extent that they apply to the use of such information. International organizations should recognize and promulgate the right for each State to have access to essential data relating to its social or economic situation.

16. Member States and international organizations should identify and promote repositories of information and knowledge in the public domain and make them accessible by all, thus shaping learning environments conducive to creativity and audience development. To this end, adequate funding should be provided for the preservation and digitization of public domain information.

17. Member States and international organizations should encourage cooperative arrangements which respect both public and private interests in order to ensure universal access to information in the public domain without geographical, economic, social or cultural discrimination.

18. Member States and international organizations should encourage open access solutions including the formulation of technical and methodological standards for information exchange, portability and interoperability, as well as online accessibility of public domain information on global information networks.

19. Member States and international organizations should promote and facilitate ICT literacy, including popularizing and building trust in ICT implementation and use. The development of “human capital” for the information society, including an open, integrated and intercultural education combined with skills training in ICT, is of crucial importance. ICT training should not be limited to technical competence but should also include awareness of ethical principles and values.

20. Inter-agency cooperation within the United Nations system should be reinforced with a view to building up a universally accessible body of knowledge, particularly for the benefit of developing countries and disadvantaged communities, from the massive amount of information produced through development projects and programmes.

21. UNESCO, in close cooperation with other intergovernmental organizations concerned, should undertake the compilation of an international inventory of legislation, regulations and policies on the generation and online dissemination of public domain information.

22. Definition and adoption of best practices and voluntary, self-regulatory, professional and ethical guidelines should be encouraged among information producers, users and service providers with due respect to freedom of expression.

Reaffirming the Equitable Balance between the Interests of Rights-Holders and the Public Interest

23. Member States should undertake, in close cooperation with all interested parties, the updating of national copyright legislation and its adaptation to cyberspace, taking full account of the fair balance between the interests of authors, copyright and related rights-holders, and of the public embodied in international copyright and related rights conventions.

24. Member States and international organizations, when appropriate, should encourage rights-holders and the lawful beneficiaries of limitations and exceptions to copyright and related rights protection to ensure that such limitations and exceptions are applied in certain special cases that do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rights-holders as required for in the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT).

25. Member States and international organizations should pay careful attention to the development of technological innovations and to their potential impact on access to information in the framework of copyright and related rights protection under international treaties and agreements.

Photo: AjayTvm/Shutterstock

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