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ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee

Rules of procedure for conducting business

(10 March 2000)

The following documents rules of procedure for the conduct of meetings and email business by the ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee. It repeats some information that is in ISO 639-2:1998 in the normative Annex A and elaborates where necessary for clarification of procedures. In particular it details how business is run in the absence of regular meetings.

1. Composition of the Joint Advisory Committee

ISO 639/JAC is composed of:

  • one representative of the International Information Centre for Terminology (Infoterm; representing ISO 639-1/RA)
  • one representative of the Library of Congress (LC; representing ISO 639-2/RA)
  • three representatives of ISO/TC 37 (nominated by ISO/TC 37)
  • three representatives of ISO/TC 46 (nominated by ISO/TC46)

Both ISO/TCs may nominate substitute representatives for a meeting.

2. Membership of ISO 639/JAC

  • Representatives of Infoterm and Library of Congress will hold the chair on a 2-year rotating basis. The first term begins at the first meeting in February 2000.
  • Up to six technical experts may be asked to participate as non-voting observers. Each TC (TC37 and TC46) may appoint three observers based on the issues and topics being discussed.
  • Representatives may be reappointed or replaced if necessary by the appropriate TC. Observers may be replaced by the appropriate rotating chair.

3. Procedures for conducting business at meetings

3.1. Agenda.

  • An agenda will be distributed at least two months prior to the meeting. It will be amended as needed when meeting is convened if there is agreement.

3.2. Voting.

  • Each member of ISO 639/JAC has one vote.
  • Voting is obligatory.
  • A vote must be unanimous for approval of an item. If there are abstentions, it shall not be considered unanimous approval.
  • If a unanimous vote cannot be reached on an item, a second vote will be conducted following discussion.
  • At least five positive votes are required to pass on the second ballot.

3.3. Role of observers

  • The designated observers may attend a JAC meeting. No more than three observers from each TC may attend.
  • Observers shall function as experts concerning specific language issues, not for procedural issues.
  • Observers will be asked to contribute as necessary.
  • Observers may not vote.
  • Experts on specific topics may attend future meetings if appropriate as determined by the chair.

4. Procedures for conducting business by electronic mail

4.1. Electronic communications
  • An electronic distribution list will include all ISO 639/JAC members and appointed observers.
  • Numbered documents are distributed by the chair. They may be distributed to the JAC list (JAC members and observers) or more widely depending upon the topic.
  • The two rotating chairs may wish to consult on the appropriate distribution for official committee documents.
  • The more general list ( may be used for discussion about general or specific language issues.
  • Prior to voting on specific changes new proposals should be openly discussed on language-related lists.
  • The chair may ask specific experts about specific language issues as necessary.

4.2. Electronic voting procedures

  • Voting may take place electronically on the list initially and confirmed in writing. A printed record will be kept.
  • Votes must be submitted within two weeks of the electronic distribution of the voting request.
  • In some circumstances the voting period may be extended if necessary because of complex issues; in these cases the deadline will be stated when the voting request is distributed.
  • Failure to vote is considered an abstention (and thus a unanimous ballot cannot be reached with an abstention).
  • If a JAC member does not vote after two consecutive times, the JAC chair will inform the appropriate TC subcommittee and request a replacement.

4.3. Role of observers

  • Observers will be included in electronic mail distributions when specific language issues are discussed and their expertise is needed.
  • Observers may be requested to perform research on specific language issues when needed.

4.4. Deadlines for response

  • When a request for a new, deleted, or changed code is submitted to the appropriate Registration Authority (Infoterm for 639-1 and Library of Congress for 639-2), the RA determines whether or not the request meets the relevant criteria.
  • The appropriate RA informs the requestor of the process generally within two weeks of the submission.
  • If the request meets the criteria, the RA determines an appropriate code and consults the ISO 639/JAC.
  • ISO 639/JAC is obliged to respond within one month with a decision. This allows for a second round of voting if the first vote is not unanimous.
  • The original requestor shall be informed of the JAC decision in six weeks to two months from submission of the original request.
  • Results of the JAC decisions will be publicized in a newsletter available on the Web and distributed through distribution lists.

See also Working principles for ISO 639 maintenance (ISO 639/JAC N3R).

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October 18, 2010