Working Group on Romanization Systems

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Consistent use of accurate place names is an essential element of effective communication worldwide and supports socio-economic development, conservation and national infrastructure. That is why the United Nations established a Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN). UNGEGN promotes consistent use of accurate place names and prepares documents for the United Nations Conferences on the Standardization of Geographical Names that are held every five years. For more information on the activities of UNGEGN see the links below or refer to the UNGEGN brochure.

Working groups are established by UNGEGN to deal with specific tasks, such as training courses in toponymy, toponymic data files and gazetteers, toponymic terminology, country names, publicity and funding, and romanization systems.

Terms of reference

The basic mandate of the Working Group consists of considering and reaching agreement on a romanization system for geographic names proposed by a (donor) country. The process of adoption of such a system by the United Nations involves the following prerequisites:

  1. There needs to be sufficient time for appropriate consultations and an expression of all views on technical matters between the sponsoring country and the working group members. Thus active participation and input of the potential users of the new romanization systems are assured.
  2. Specifically, the group considers whether the romanization system is based on sound scientific principles, the system's degree of reversibility, and the extent of its implementation on cartographic products (maps and charts) by the proposing country.
  3. Finally, the new system is referred to the next U.N. Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names in form of a resolution which, in turn, is voted by the Conference. When the resolution is adopted, the subject romanization system becomes the United Nations standard.

(G. Quinting, UNGEGN Newsletter No. 17, May 1996)

Report on the Current Status of United Nations Romanization Systems for Geographical Names

See also an important note on links and report versions.

Version 4.0. February 2013 – March 2016 [published 2013-02-26, updated 2013-09-24 and 2016-03-30]

For a more complete listing see a special subpage.


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Other documents

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Links to other UNGEGN sites

Other links on romanization

Composition of the working group

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Opened: 2000-04-14
Updated: 2017-09-19