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Technical Committee Procedures for the Unicode Consortium

Revised 1/20/17

0. Scope

These procedures are to guide all activity of the technical committees, subcommittees, and any ad hoc committees of the Unicode Consortium that are established and amended by the Officers of the Unicode Consortium under the direction of the Board of Directors of the Unicode Consortium.

1. Definitions

1.0. Technical committee

Technical committees are decision making bodies formally established by the full members of the Consortium. The current technical committees of the Unicode Consortium are:

  • Unicode Technical Committee (UTC)
  • Unicode Common Locale Data Repository Technical Committee (CLDR-TC)
  • Unicode Localization Interoperability Technical Committee (ULI-TC)
  • International Components for Unicode Technical Committee (ICU-TC)

See Consortium for further information.

1.1. Voting participant

Voting participants at technical committee meetings are the designated representatives of:

  • Full members (full vote)
  • Institutional members (full vote)
  • Supporting members (half vote)

These must be members in good standing. See Consortium members for the membership categories and lists of members.

1.2. Non-voting participant

Non-voting participants at technical committee meetings are:

  • Associate members
  • Liaison members
  • Executive officers
  • Technical officers

Non-voting participants also include employees or other affiliates of full, institutional, supporting, associate, or liaison members who are not designated as primary or alternate representatives.

1.3 Observers

Observers at technical committee meetings are:

  • Individual members
  • Student members
  • Invited experts

Individual and student members are neither voting nor non-voting participants of technical committee meetings.

1.4. Participant in good standing

To be in good standing, a technical committee participant is required to be a member current on fees and obligations imposed by the Unicode Consortium. A member that is not in good standing may act as an observer at technical committee meetings.

1.5. Participant in regular attendance

To be in regular attendance, a technical committee participant is required to be in good standing and to be represented in the current meeting or have been represented in at least one of the two prior meetings.

1.6. Meeting schedules

Technical committee meetings shall be planned and held at regular intervals.

1.7. Ad hoc meeting

A technical committee may establish an informal group to discuss specific issues or subjects. The meetings of such groups are considered ad hoc meetings. Activities of these groups may include the review of action items or bug reports and may result in recommendations to a technical committee. The recommendations of an ad hoc meeting are not binding on the technical committee.

1.8. Designation in writing

A designation in writing is written instruction made by letter, fax, or given in e-mail correspondence that is signed by a member representative. An e-mail sent from a member representative?s address is considered to be signed by the member representative.

A designation in writing is effective upon receipt by the chair.

1.9. Executive officer of the Consortium

Executive officers include:

  • President
  • Vice president
  • Chief financial officer
  • Secretary

For a list of executive officers, see Consortium officers

1.10. Technical officer of the Consortium

Technical officers include:

  • Technical vice president
  • Technical directors

For a list of technical officers, see Consortium officers.

2. Program of work of a technical committee

The principal activities of a technical committee are the development and maintenance of its associated technical standards, technical reports, software, and data files in accordance with the purpose of the Unicode Consortium as stated in Article 1, Section 1 of its Bylaws. The content of its associated technical standards, technical reports, software, and data files are defined by the set of proposals approved by the respective technical committee, on the basis of these procedures.

3. Composition of a technical committee

A technical committee is comprised of representatives of voting and non-voting participants as defined in sections 1.1 and 1.2 that are in good standing. In the rest of these procedures, any use of the term "participant" without qualification refers to these definitions. 

A member representative must be listed as a primary or alternate representative on the membership roster of the Unicode Consortium to represent the member.

4. Member representatives

4.1. Primary representative

Each voting member of the Unicode Consortium is entitled to designate one person as its primary representative for a particular technical committee. This designation must be made in writing.

4.2. Alternate representatives

In addition, each voting member may designate one or more alternate representatives for a particular technical committee. This designation must be made in writing.

4.3. Representatives of non-voting members

Non-voting members may designate one or more representatives for a particular technical committee. 

4.4. Changes in assigned representatives

Members may revoke or reassign their assigned representatives at any time. Notice of changes must be made in writing.

5. Proxy representation

Voting members may designate a proxy for a technical committee for a given period or subject matter. This designation must be made in writing. The designation must be signed by the primary representative or by an alternate representative acting as the primary representative. Oral appointment of a proxy is not acceptable.

Proxies may be revoked at any time by the primary representative or by an alternate representative acting as the primary representative. The revocation must be in writing if the representative is not physically present at the meeting.

The proxy authorization or revocation is effective upon receipt by the chair. A person may hold and exercise multiple proxies.

5.1. Who may be a proxy

The Unicode Consortium imposes few restrictions on who may be a proxy. It may be the representative of another member, a technical committee officer, or an officer of the Consortium or any other chosen person, except an employee of the Consortium.

5.2. When is a proxy not required

A proxy is not required when a member is being represented by an alternate representative (instead of the primary representative). The alternate representative must be listed on the membership roster of the Unicode Consortium.

6. Technical committee officers

The officers of each technical committee are a chair, a vice chair and, optionally, a recording secretary, all appointed by the executive officers of the Unicode Consortium. In the absence of the chair, the vice chair shall assume his/her duties. A technical committee may create and appoint other officers of the committee at its discretion, including additional vice chairs.

7. Meetings

Technical committee meetings are referenced either by number or date at the discretion of the chair. Locations and dates for technical committee meetings shall be decided upon by the committee. Notification shall be distributed to the committee participants at least 20 days in advance of physical? meetings, and at least 2 days in advance of telephone or video conference meetings.

A member is not obligated to send a representative to a technical committee meeting.

7.1. Notification

Notification for meetings in person is distributed on the e-mail lists. Announcement of these meeting plans are generally made a year in advance.  For telephone meetings, schedules may be announced 2 days before the meeting.

7.2. Meeting procedures

7.2.1. Presiding chair

The chair presides over a technical committee meeting. In the absence of the chair, the vice chair presides.

7.2.2. Appointment of a temporary technical committee officer

During a technical committee meeting, any technical committee officer may appoint a member representative or officer of the Unicode Consortium as a substitute technical committee officer for all or part of that meeting. This action must be recorded in the minutes.

7.2.3. Rules

Meetings of a technical committee are conducted in the following way:

  • A quorum must be present to take decisions. See Section 8 Meeting quorum for information on determining a quorum.
  • The chair controls the floor in order to manage the discussion of agenda topics.
  • All meeting participants have an equal right to be recognized by the chair.
  • Decisions are made by consensus of participants where possible; otherwise motions must be made and seconded before discussion, and a vote recorded.

Voting participants and officers may raise points of order to check procedural matters and questions on agenda topics.

  • At the discretion of the chair, discussion may be conducted informally, especially on technical matters, unless any member objects.
  • Observers may only engage in discussion with permission from the chair.

7.3. Who may participate in technical committee meetings

Those who may participate in technical committee meetings are:

  • Voting participants
  • Non-voting participants
  • Observers, with permission from the chair

7.4. Confidentiality of meeting discussions

Discussions during meetings are confidential and are not to be shared publicly, without explicit permission of the chair. For example, while discussions may be shared within member organizations, such discussions should not be shared publicly.

7.5. Closed caucus

Voting participants, technical committee officers, or officers of the Consortium can raise a proposal for a closed caucus at any time in a meeting. If the proposal for a closed caucus is approved (according to Section 9 Decisions), then it shall be convened at a time determined by the chair.

Voting participants, technical committee officers, and officers of the Consortium may participate in the closed caucus.

The termination of a closed caucus can be requested and approved in the same way as the initiation of a closed caucus.

7.6. Chatham House Rule

When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the  Chatham House Rule , participants are free to use the information received, including sharing it publicly, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.

Application of the Chatham House Rule can be requested by any representative of a full member or by any officer of the Consortium. If the proposal for Chatham House Rule is approved (according to Section 9 Decisions, but requiring unanimous consensus or vote), then it applies during the meeting until terminated. 

The termination of the Chatham House Rule can be requested and approved in the same way as the initiation.

7.7. Recording or broadcast of meeting content

Recording or broadcast of meetings is normally not permitted. In exceptional circumstances, the chair may authorize meeting recording, provided that all voting participants and Consortium officers present at the meeting consent to the authorization.

If permission to record a meeting is not requested, the chair may require the person responsible for the unauthorized recording or broadcast to leave the meeting.

Closed caucus proceedings may not be recorded or broadcast.

8. Meeting quorum

The quorum for a technical committee meeting consists of fifty percent (50%) of the total number of voting participants in regular attendance, where the voting participants of full and institutional members count as one, and the voting participants of supporting members count as one half.

A participant may be represented either by a designated representative or by a validated proxy.

9. Decisions

Decisions of a technical committee are made by consensus where possible, or, if not, by votes taken on formal motions. Proposals may be made by any voting participant or by an officer of the Consortium. If no voting participant objects to a consensus, the proposal is accepted by the technical committee. If there is an objection to consensus, then the proposal can be withdrawn or a formal motion for a vote can be made. Motions may be moved or seconded by a voting participant or by an officer of the Consortium. A motion must be seconded before it can be voted upon. Acceptance of the motion is governed by Section 10 Voting.

9.1. Appeals

A voting participant may appeal a decision of a technical committee to the full members of the Consortium. The chair shall issue a letter ballot as to whether to overturn the decision.

10. Voting

10.1. Representation of voting members

Where one or more representatives of a voting member are present, the primary representative shall vote for the member, unless he/she allows an alternate representative to vote instead.

In the absence of the primary representative, an alternate representative shall vote for the member. When two or more alternates are present, the alternates decide who shall represent the member in voting. In any case of conflict, the chair shall decide who shall vote for the member.

In the absence of the primary representative and any alternate representatives, the holder of a validated proxy may vote.

For counting the vote, the vote of full and institutional members shall count as one, and the vote of supporting members shall count as one half.

10.2. Rights of proxies

A holder of a validated proxy has the same voting rights as the voting member that he/she is representing, except where the proxy authorization limits the scope of the proxy. In any case, where the description of the scope is unclear, the chair shall decide whether limitations of the scope apply.

10.3. Absentee voting

A voting member representative may cast a ballot on any matter by letter, email, fax, or equivalent written mechanism, provided only that such a ballot is received in time to apply it. If any change other than correction of typographical errors is made to the wording or substance of a matter following receipt of a ballot, that ballot shall, at the discretion of the chair, not be voted.

10.4. Voting process

A vote on a motion is always taken on whether or not to approve the proposal. A vote is never taken on whether or not to sustain an objection to the proposal. Votes may be cast in favor, against, or abstaining on any matter except on those matters for which abstentions are not permitted by technical committee procedures.

At a technical committee meeting, voting is public, by count of those voting (including absentee votes), as specified in? Section 10.1 Representation of voting members. ?However, an absentee vote does not affect quorum and does not affect the determination of regular attendance.

10.5. Voting results

10.5.1. New decisions

A special majority is required to pass a motion that establishes or overturns a precedent. Otherwise passage of a motion is decided by a simple majority vote.

For the UTC, a matter is deemed to have passed only if the sum of the favorable votes cast is over half of the sum of all of the votes cast.

For other TCs, a matter is deemed to have passed if the sum of favorable votes exceeds the sum of unfavorable votes.

Note: Unless an explicit precedent has been set, retracting a change that has not yet appeared in a released version of a Unicode Standard takes a simple majority vote, as does adding a character that has previously been rejected.

10.5.2. Precedents

A precedent is either of the following:

  • An existing Unicode Policy, or
  • An explicit precedent.

An explicit precedent is established by a separate motion, which must pass by a special majority. This separate motion states that a previous technical committee decision is considered an explicit precedent.

10.5.3. Special majority

For the UTC, a special majority is either consensus or a 2/3 majority, whereby a matter will be deemed to have passed only if the sum of the favorable votes cast is 2/3 or more of the sum of the eligible votes at the meeting, or, in case of a mail ballot, by 2/3 or more of the sum of votes of all eligible members.

For other TCs, a special majority is either consensus or at least twice as many positive votes as negative votes.

10.5.4. Abstentions

Abstentions are counted in the same way for simple majorities and special majorities.

For the UTC, abstentions have the same effect on determining a majority vote as negative votes.

For other TCs, abstentions are ignored.

10.6. Recording of decisions

The outcome of a decision is recorded in the minutes of a technical committee meeting. Votes, when taken, are recorded with a count of the number of voting participants who voted in favor, against, and abstained. Consensus decisions are noted as such without a vote count. Decisions shall be recorded in the following matters:

  • Ballots on motions related to technical standards, technical reports, software, and data files, including all votes on proposals, objections, etc.
  • Ballots on motions related to committee procedures.
  • Ballots on matters related to the scopes and programs of work of technical committees and their subcommittees.

Decisions on any other matters may be voice votes or informal unrecorded counts at the discretion of the chair.

11. Letter ballots

A letter ballot may be called by a vote of the technical committee or by at least two officers of the Unicode Consortium. When a letter ballot is taken, the chair shall designate a teller to conduct the ballot in the following manner:

  • Ballots will be mailed, emailed, or distributed by hand to the primary and alternate representatives of all voting participants, and must be returned to the teller within 20 days of the date of distribution.
  • Only one representative of a voting participant may vote. Should disagreeing ballots be received from more than one representative, only the ballot of the primary representative is counted, and the ballot(s) of the alternate(s) shall be marked invalid.
  • As soon as enough votes have been collected to decide the issue definitively one way or another, the teller shall close the ballot and announce the results via e-mail to all primary and alternate representatives and to all officers of the Consortium.
  • Results of the letter ballot shall also be announced at the first technical committee meeting following the close of the 20-day return period, and also recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

12. Public Review Issues

From time to time the Unicode Consortium seeks formal public review and feedback on specific proposals by posting Public Review Issues on its website. Public review issues are created by officers of the Consortium, typically upon request of a technical committee. Each issue has a number, title, summary, and deadline for receipt of public review comments.

Resolution of a public review issue is normally made after consideration of the feedback at the following technical committee meeting.

Technical committee decisions are not bound in any way by the existence or the wording of a public review issue.

13. Subcommittees

Subcommittees may be established by a technical committee to address specific issues. All proposals, recommendations, or decisions made by a subcommittee are subject to approval or further action by the technical committee, unless specific authority for a decision has been delegated by a technical committee to the subcommittee.

The conduct of a subcommittee meeting may, at the discretion of the chair of that subcommittee, be less formal than the technical committee rules require. There is no specific requirement for the advance notice of a subcommittee meeting. Subcommittee meetings may also be held in closed caucus.

13.1. Who may participate in subcommittee meetings

All those who can participate in technical committee meetings may participate in subcommittee meetings. See Section 7.3. Who may participate in technical committee meetings.

Observers may only engage in discussion with permission from the subcommittee chair.

13.2. Subcommittee chair

The chair of a subcommittee shall be an officer of the Consortium or a representative (primary or alternate) of a full, institutional, or supporting member. Subcommittee chairs are appointed by the technical committee chair.

13.3. Reporting requirements

The chair of a subcommittee shall report to the technical committee on meetings of that subcommittee.

14. Documentation

14.1. Mailing lists

The chair or subcommittee chair shall designate a person to maintain a mailing list for participants in technical committee or subcommittee meetings. See Section 7.3 Who may participate in technical committee meetings and Section 13.1 Who may participate in subcommittee meetings for those who may participate. Participation in mailing list discussions is considered an extension of technical committee or subcommittee meetings, and, as such, participation is at the discretion of the technical committee or subcommittee chair.

14.2. Calendar of meetings

The calendar of technical committee meetings shall be available on the public side of the Unicode Consortium website.  The calendar may also show other events or meetings of interest.

14.3. Agenda of meeting

The initial agenda of a UTC meeting shall be compiled by the chair of the UTC, and made available to members no later than one week before the meeting. Additional agenda items may be added after the initial agenda is distributed, up to and during the meeting itself. All members may submit items to the chair for inclusion in the agenda. The inclusion of submitted items is at the discretion of the chair.

For other TCs, all members of email lists may submit items to the chair for inclusion in the agenda. Additional agenda items may be added after the initial agenda is distributed, up to and during the meeting itself. The inclusion of submitted items is at the discretion of the chair and vice chair.

14.4. Meeting documents

14.4.1. Identification

The chair shall designate a person or procedure to assign document numbers.

14.4.2. Distribution

Documents to be considered at meetings of a technical committee shall be distributed not later than one week before the meeting. Documents received less than one week before a technical committee meeting may, at the discretion of the chair, be processed, particularly if there is a need for action to meet a schedule for standardization or for coordination with another group.

When a proposal is introduced for the first time in a technical committee meeting, any voting member can ask for the decision to be delayed to the next meeting, to allow time for study. The chair will normally honor the request, except under exceptional circumstances.

Meeting documents will be announced on the committee e-mail lists and placed in the document register.

14.5. Meeting minutes

The draft minutes of a technical committee meeting shall be made available within seven business days of the meeting.

14.6. Action item list

A list of action items shall be kept and reviewed at each meeting of the technical committee.

14.7. Member website

The Unicode Office will maintain a password-protected, members-only section of the Unicode website.

15. The Unicode Consortium as a member of other organizations

Relationships with other organizations are at the level of the Unicode Consortium, not at the technical committee level. For more information, see Unicode as a Member of Other Organizations.

16. Enforcement of these procedures

During a meeting, the presiding chair shall decide any question concerning interpretation or application of these rules. Outside a meeting, the chair of the technical committee shall decide any question concerning interpretation or application of these rules.

17. Handling of company private data

For information on handling of company private data, see Confidential Data Policy.

Appendix A: Technical Committee Procedures -- Revision History

  • January 1991, Draft, written by Mark Davis
  • December 1997, Reformatted, by Julia Oesterle
  • July 1998, Draft revision, by Joan Aliprand
  • December 1998, Distributed with incorporated revisions
  • October 1999, Revisions re proxies and recording of meetings, by Lisa Moore
  • February 2001, Revisions regarding quorum determination, precedents, acceptance voting, letter ballots, and other clarifications, by Lisa Moore
  • November 2001, Revisions regarding proxy designations via e-mail, by Lisa Moore
  • April 2004, Revisions regarding decisions, public review issues, and miscellaneous updates by Lisa Moore
  • May 2005, Revisions to include new and changed member categories by Lisa Moore
  • August 2005, Merged UTC and CLDR-TC procedures and removed approval voting, by Lisa Moore
  • June 2007, Clarified role of Subcommittee Chair in 13.1 and participation in mailing list discussions in 14.1
  • April 2011, Updated with the formation of a third technical committee, Unicode Localization Interoperability TC
  • December 2011, Clarified appointment of Subcommittee chairs in 13.2
  • July 2014, Removed references to joint L2 and Unicode meetings
  • January 2017, Updated to address confidentiality of discussions, to add definitions, and to include ICU

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