[Gnso-newgtld-wg-wt5] Action for WT5 Members - Definition of Geographic Terms

Nick Wenban-Smith Nick.Wenban-Smith at nominet.uk
Thu Jan 11 17:44:33 UTC 2018

Hi Jaap

I know that it's really important to be precise in terminology, and that (to quote the ISO website) "the purpose of ISO 3166 is to define internationally recognised codes of letters and/or numbers that we can use when we refer to countries and subdivisions". The definition of country names comes from the United Nations Statistics Division, according to the ISO website (the Terminology Bulletin Country Names and the Country and Region Codes for Statistical Use to be precise) .  

RFC 1591 states that "the selection of the ISO 3166 list as a basis for country code top-level domain names was made with the knowledge that ISO has a procedure for determining which entities should be and should not be on that list". 

Is it fair to say then that whilst 3166 obviously does not define country names that it is nonetheless a convenient reference point for what the UN Statistics Division considers to be a country name? Is there any other way this could be easily done without reference to the 3166? Or do we simply rely on the wording in AGB (iiv) "it is a name by which a country is commonly known, as demonstrated by evidence that the country is recognized by that name by an intergovernmental or treaty organization".

I have no principled objection to moving away from 3166 if there is a better benchmark that could be used, but its long-standing use as an objective standard has at least given the community some certainty in this area.

Best wishes

-----Original Message-----
From: Gnso-newgtld-wg-wt5 [mailto:gnso-newgtld-wg-wt5-bounces at icann.org] On Behalf Of Jaap Akkerhuis
Sent: 11 January 2018 12:38
To: gnso-newgtld-wg-wt5 at icann.org
Subject: Re: [Gnso-newgtld-wg-wt5] Action for WT5 Members - Definition of Geographic Terms

 Nick Wenban-Smith writes:

 > I had thought that the first piece of work for WT5 is a discussion of  > the definition of what constitutes a geographic name for the purposes  > of new gTLDs - hence looking initially at the 2012 Applicant Guidebook  > collectively to see whether those are fit for purpose. The use of 3166  > - the standard for codes for the representation of countries and their  > subdivisions - is not perfect but has historically always been used as  > reference going right back to RFC 1591 in 1994 "IANA is not in the  > business of deciding what is and what is not a country".
 > Personally while I think use of 3166 produces some odd results I have  > not (yet) heard of a credible alternative as regards country names and  > the 2 and 3 letter codes which represent country names.

The ISO 3166 standard is not about country names at all. It does not defines the names of countries. It is all about codes. What RFC 1591 refers to is the use of codes as labels for TLDs. When the standard is using names and takes the UN Terminology database [1] as reference for those names. It is a bad idea to use 3166 as a reference source for geographic names.


[1] <https://unterm.un.org/UNTERM/portal/welcome>
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