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ICANN 49 Through Language Services’ Eyes

27 May 2014


The first day in Singapore, I had the chance to visit the Singapore National Orchid Garden. While wandering in the lush greenness, inhaling the refreshing fragrance, I was totally enjoying my time there. Suddenly, a bunch of elementary school kids walked by, two by two, chatting and laughing happily on their way to the field trip site. Listening carefully I noticed that the kids, no older than 6 or 7 years old, of all skin colors, were communicating fluently, seamlessly and harmoniously in English, Mandarin or Malay. Everything seemed so natural to them, yet so amazing and incredible to me. We were told that Singapore is a multicultural and multilingual society, and that scene I saw said it all.

It is in this diversified society that ICANN convened its 49th Public Meeting on 23-27 March 2014. ICANN has always striven to be a multilingual and multicultural international organization, and Singapore, without a doubt, is an ideal location for this type of meeting. In our daily work, we speak more than 50 languages with people from more than 170 countries. For this reason translation and interpretation services have always been one of the priorities for ICANN so as to better communicate the organization’s messages to the world. Since the first expansion of the Language Services Department last September, we now have language experts who are in charge of the 6 UN Official Languages. In addition, we have largely improved the simultaneous interpretation services at ICANN’s public meetings. In Buenos Aires, we hired local interpreters to support the meeting; this time, in Singapore, we have flown several additional English-Mandarin interpreters from Beijing, to form a group of 43 simultaneous interpreters for ICANN. Conference interpretation has covered all the main sessions (i.e. Opening Ceremony, Public Forum, GAC, ALAC, Board Meetings, Fellowship Program, DNSSEC, etc.), offering support and services for the local and global communities alike.

Since March 14th, with the announcement of the US Government’s intent to transfer its stewardship over the IANA functions to the global multi-stakeholder community, there have been a lot of questions, misunderstandings and misconceptions in and outside of the ICANN community. In order to answer questions and dispel the misconceptions, our language experts have been working hard to provide accurate translation from the official channels in a timely manner, faithfully conveying USG’s message to the community.

Personally, as the Chinese language expert, I had the chance to sit down with the people in charge in the Beijing Engagement Center and the Singapore Hub, to understand their needs in language services, explore possible cooperation in process redesign and capacity building so as to improve the quality of our services.

ICANN 49 has been a great event, for me personally, for my department, and of course for ICANN. The launch of the discussion on the USG stewardship transition is well taken care of and managed by ICANN. As an epitome of the Pan Asian cultures, thoughts and ideas, Singapore is a great place for ICANN to conduct, explore and to move forward its role, message and responsibility to the world. We look forward to working with the entire ICANN community and beyond to build on the future of the Internet and its governance.


Jessie Doherty

Jessie Doherty

Senior Language Expert - Head Interpreter