Adding RAINBOW FLAG to Unicode (Fwd: Representing Additional Types of Flags)

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at
Thu Jul 2 04:01:46 CDT 2015

The political subject is immediately related to the designation of flags
and their association to ISO 3166-1 and -2 encoded entities. Even if you
don't like it, this is very political and for a standard seeking for
stability, I wonder how any flag (directly bound to specific political
entities at specific dates and within some boundaries which may be
contested) can be related to ISO 3166 and its instability (and the fact
that ISO 3166 entities have in fact also no defined borders, so that ISO
3166-2 is just a political point of view from the current ruler of the
current ISO 3166-1 entity).

All this topic is political. In fact the real flags are not even encoded
with RIS, not even for current nations (and there's still a problem to know
what is a recognized nation, even when just considering the UN definition.
Political entities are defined but with fuzzy borders, they just represent
in fact some local governments, not necessarily their lands, people, or
cultures, and in some cases they are in exil or not even ruling: their seat
in the UN is vacant and they exist only on the paper, but even UN members
disagree about which treaty they recognize).

Consider the case of Western Sahara (which no longer exists except on the
paper as a dependency of Spain that has abandoned it completely) and with
two governments competing to control the territory (Morocco controlling
most of it, another part claimed by Mauritania then abandonned, another
part left without infrastructures, and many refugees left de facto in
Mauritania or Algeria). None of the two autorities designate that territory
as "Western Sahara". So it no longer exists (and will likely never exist

The frozen status of Antarctica has not created any new country or
territory, even if there's a sort of joint administration: that
adminsitration does not suppresses the existing claims (and new claims that
have been made since its creation). So this area has no well defined flag
and various falgs are used informally plus national flags for each claim
and sometimes specific regional flags created ad hoc. The use of RIS for
ISO 3166-1 and its limited extension for ISO3166-2 (slightly modified) does
not resolve the problem.

In really there's still no standard way to encode flags unambiguously and
in a stable way. We'd like to have FOTW (Flags of the World) contributors
to propose their own scheme. But it will not be compatible with the current
RIS solution or the proposed extension. If ever such standard emerges, it
will require encoding a new set of characters.

An alternative would be to embed an URN (not reencoded) between some pairs
of controls (to embed an object by reference) and use that sequence after a
White flag symbol with a joiner.

The URN scheme being the best long term solution (and preferable to URLs
bound to specific servers), but we could in fact a generic URI
encapsulation (supporting URNs and URLs).

It could be used then for representing various kinds of entities, and then
link them to specific forms: flags, banners, flying flag, flag over a
person face, micni location maps, "flag maps"... Programs not recognizing
the encoded entities would have a very simply way to scan over the
encasulated URI representing some an specified objects. OTher programs will
recognize some specific URI schemes. RIS will then be something of the
past, obsoleted because it was non neutral, politcally and culturally
oriented, incomplete, and fundamentally unstable since the begining... For
now we just have some set of flags promoted only to support the immediate
support for interconnecting propriatary messaging services. But all this
came without a correct review of what was really needed.

2015-07-02 7:16 GMT+02:00 Mark Davis ☕️ <mark at>:

> *​Please take political discussions elsewhere; they do not belong on this
> list.*
> The point about the boundaries of regions changing over time, and flags
> being associated with a former set of boundaries could have been made in a
> few sentences. Not only would it have avoided politics, it would have been
> more likely that people would actually read it (the likelihood being
> inversely proportional to the length).
> Mark <>
> *— Il meglio è l’inimico del bene —*
> On Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 4:12 AM, Philippe Verdy <verdy_p at> wrote:
>> And today's Chinese province ofTibet is different from the historic
>> Tibet, as China incorporated other surrounding areas, including some parts
>> taken from Bhutan (a small part around Legaru, and a larger part to the
>> North) and India (some parts to the West from states of Jammu and Kashmir,
>> which itself is also claimed by Pakistan, and of Uttarakhand, and to the
>> East from Arunachal Pradesh), as well as modifying the internal borders of
>> Chinese provinces of Xinjiang in the nort-west and of Sichuan on the east.
>> The whole new province is still named Tibet but much larger than the
>> historic country of Tibet before its annexion.
>> The Chinese claims in India and Bhutan are contested and is still subject
>> to very active military tensions with India. This question is then more
>> important than only the Tibetan free movement that does not claim anything
>> to India and Bhutan (and in fact these two countries are hosting Tibetan
>> refugees and the Free Tibet movement itself) and do not claim anything in
>> Chinese parts previously part of Sichuan and Xinjiang provinces.
>> China also has border conflicts with Tajiskistan and a small part of
>> Afghanistan to extend its current province of Xinjiang to the West. The
>> international borders of China are then extremely fuzzy. With India and
>> Bhutan, the claims are theorically existing but India has kept its
>> presence. The situation is much less clear however with Jammu and Kashmir
>> (that has its own separatist movement in addition to the Pakistan claims)
>> and is now becoming more critical with Tajikistan and in the troubled area
>> bordering Afghanistan, both areas having autonomist islamic movements in
>> Xinjiang (including now some of them allied with Talebans operating in
>> Afghanistan and Tajikistan since the dissolution of the former USSR: before
>> that dissolution, this was also a region of border conflicts between China
>> and USSR).
>> Now China has also maritime bordering conflicts in the South China Sea
>> from Vietnam to the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei as China wants to
>> extend its maritime borders to the south to include various small islands.
>> It has also conflicts with Taiwan to the north of that maritime area.
>> Defining the borders of China is really complicate. And this has
>> consequences also on the interpretation of Chinese subdivisions of
>> provinces in ISO 3166-2. I would not associate flags with these official
>> Chinese provinces given that even China does not claim any flag. But I
>> would certainly not use these ISO 3166-2 Chinese subdivisions to associate
>> them with historic regions annexed by China, or claimed by China over other
>> countries (which are still a source of active conflicts and military
>> actions or political tensions by China against Vietnam, Taiwan, the
>> Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, as well with South Korea and Japan. All
>> countries around China have to protect their borders with China whose power
>> and influence is growing (even in the easternmost part of Russia with an
>> important Chinese community supporting China rather than Russia for the
>> historic conflicts with Japan).
>> We've not seen any sign of stabilization and in fact the number of
>> territorial conflicts is growing, as well as the Chinese military presence
>> in all these bordering regions. Many of these existing countries also have
>> internal troubles since long (e.g. Myanmar, and even Vietnam due to the
>> past wars and military support of China for Northern Vietnam against
>> Southern Vietnam: now Vietnam has a significant Chinese community in its
>> own borders, which could support the Chinese claims in South China Sea). It
>> seems that China wants to create a huge matitime area connecting the
>> maritime roads from Hong Kong to Singapore and new conflicts could appear
>> with Indonesia.
>> 2015-07-01 19:33 GMT+02:00 Doug Ewell <doug at>:
>>> Shervin Afshar <shervinafshar at gmail dot com> wrote:
>>> > This is a mechanism for flags of sub-regions with ISO 3166-2 codes;
>>> > e.g. US States, countries and provinces of the UK, Tibet, etc.
>>> The Tibet Autonomous Region (CN-54), like other regions in China except
>>> Hong Kong and Macao, has no official flag.
>>> Although this is what some users might expect, implementing or
>>> interpreting "[flag]CN54" as the snow-lion flag, associated with the
>>> Free Tibet movement, could be controversial and problematic in the
>>> extreme. You know how China is.
>>> --
>>> Doug Ewell | | Thornton, CO ����
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