revision of ISO 3166

Addison Phillips [wM] aphillips at
Tue Sep 7 17:25:32 CEST 2004

There are a lot of interesting things one might say about the stability rules here. Like: does the 50 year exclusion rule apply to codes previously "withdrawn"? Back to what date? Overall I welcome their (slightly late) gesture to stability.

I looked carefully at the problem for impact on 3066bis and the only thing I could see modifying in the latter would be to synchronize reuse of codes on the 50 year cycle. It might be useful if ISO-3166 were to adopt the same definition of "when the country has changed" from 3066bis (that is, when the UN M.49 code changes), rather than trying to keep codes mnemonic whenever the country name changes. (I find it a bit amusing having the country code be mnemonic for the country name transcribed into Latin letters---no I don't mean ASCII here).

To save a trip to the draft, the rules in 3066bis for stability in region tags goes something like this:

1. If only the name of the country changes, the description can be changed (HV == Upper Volta -> Burkina Fasso)
2. If the code also changes (but the UN M.49 stays the same), then register the new code as an alias of the old code. (BF = Burkina Faso)
3. If the code changes and it conflicts with a registration but the UN M.49 remains the same, then the old code remains and is canonical. (YU = Serbia and Montenegro)
4. If the code changes and UN M.49 changes and the new code conflicts with an existing registration, then the UN M.49 is registered.
5. If the code changes and conflicts with a registration and there is no UN M.49 code, then petition for one (this should never happen, since 3166 uses M.49 to identify new countries)

Note that we keyed specifically off of the UN M.49 code to determine if a country is actually a "new" country rather than just a new name or a regime change (making the UN responsible for untangling hairy political issues). Note that the Burkina Faso example is slightly incorrect for #2. Since it antedates 3066bis, HV is an alias for BF. If that assignment were made post-3066bis, the reverse would be true.



Addison P. Phillips
Director, Globalization Architecture
webMethods | Delivering Global Business Visibility
Chair, W3C Internationalization (I18N) Working Group
Chair, W3C-I18N-WG, Web Services Task Force

Internationalization is an architecture. 
It is not a feature.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: ietf-languages-bounces at 
> [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at]On Behalf Of Peter Constable
> Sent: 2004年9月7日 5:52
> To: unicore at; ietf-languages at
> Subject: RE: revision of ISO 3166
> For some reason, it surprises me that the one thing in this draft that's
> getting discussed ad nauseum is how to refer to the letters a-z. Nobody
> seems to have anything they want to say regarding stability issues.
> Peter Constable
> _______________________________________________
> Ietf-languages mailing list
> Ietf-languages at

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