Experts open UN session to encourage more accurate use of place names

28 March 2006 –

An estimated 200 experts, representing 22 linguistic or geographical divisions around the world, opened a session today at the United Nations Office in Vienna on advancing the development of more consistency and greater accuracy in the use of place names, and standardizing written forms of geographical names.

The UN Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) session will address measures on how to Romanize place names being converted from languages that use non-Roman script.

Established over 40 years ago with a view to furthering the standardization of geographical names to assist in the promotion of more effective communication worldwide, UNGEGN is a standing body of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Consistent place names benefit local, national and international communities involved in the development of activities such as mapping, urban and regional planning, peacekeeping, navigation, trade, cultural heritage and emergency preparedness, officials involved in the session said.

“The need for world response to various crises in recent times has underlined the importance of clear geographical names references for use in very practical situations,” said UNGEGN Chairperson Helen Kerfoot. In advance of the UN expert meeting in Vienna, she stressed that participants would have “enormous opportunities to be of assistance in helping to provide easily retrievable, accurate and up-to-date information on place names.”

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