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ICANN and the Universal Postal Union Conclude Negotiation for .POST

ICANN and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) have reached an agreement in principle for the UPU sponsorship of the .POST Top-Level Domain. Final approval of the agreement is subject to ICANN's public comment process (which will commence after ICANN concludes its meeting in Seoul on 30 October 2009), and consideration by the Board of Directors.

The UPU is responsible for setting the rules for the universal network of international postal mail exchanges. A specialized agency of the United Nations, the UPU was established in 1874 and is one of the world's oldest intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). Despite ICANN's relative youth, ICANN and the UPU bear a number of resemblances, including active participation by representatives of geographically diverse governments and constituencies. Both organizations are governed by a bottom-up process: the UPU by its member countries and ICANN by the global Internet community. And both organizations serve billions of people globally.

The agreement concludes the negotiation that enables both organizations to recognize one another's traditional autonomy, mission, and core values. The agreement represents a significant accomplishment for the UPU, ICANN, and the global Internet community. "This validates the ICANN model for fostering expansion of and innovation in the domain name space," said ICANN CEO and President, Rod Beckstrom. "The UPU has also helped mark out a path for other IGOs to sponsor their own top-level domains and helps us expand our multi-stakeholder relationships in the IGO field."

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Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."