Re: Address of ISO 3166 mailing list

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Sun Jun 08 2003 - 14:03:13 EDT

  • Next message: John Cowan: "Re: Address of ISO 3166 mailing list"

    From: "Michael Everson" <>
    > At 16:15 +0100 2003-06-06, Marion Gunn wrote:
    > >I do think such a service would be good, to provide the same open
    > >discussion forum/bug reporting/testing ground for ISO 3166 [...]
    > Except, of course, that the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency is not a
    > Registration Authority, but a Maintenance Agency. Its codes are
    > assigned when the United Nations informs it that a code needs to be
    > assigned. It would seem that a discussion list for ISO 3166 would
    > therefore be of little use.

    This is probably true for ISO3166-1 (country codes) which is under governments control and policy (no discussions except at diplomatic levels). This is the only part of the ISO3166 standard that is well maintained and effectively needs no discussion (a couple of codes is proposed and accepted by ISO3166MA when the UN adds a country and assigns it a numeric code and official names in its statistics records, to match the official name in a native language, and in working languages of the UN).

    But for ISO3166-2 (sub-country regional codes), the United Nations do not provide any good list, except in its own numeric codes used in its international economic and statistics databases. This numeric code has no relation with ISO3166-2, so I don't think the UN is the best source for discussion, but instead codes are generally assigned per country, using the postal code assignments in most cases (often derived from a country standard).

    However ISO3166-2 is completely outdated and unmaintained by many governments (including a lot of typos or even incorrect codes...). The US FIPS standard is no more effective either (and has inconsistencies that list areas that even do not exist under this classification in the legal or administrative divisions of a country).

    So how can the ISO3166 Maintenance Agency do its work on ISO3166-2, if the UN does not even provide this data, and there is no dicussion and no working group to unify and update obsolete records? Shouldn't this normalization of ISO3166-2 be discussed and maintained by UNESCO, or by the International Postal Organization?

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