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Experts met in Warsaw to elaborate a recommendation on preservation of documentary heritage

Following Resolution 53 of the 37th session of the General Conference requesting UNESCO to prepare a draft Recommendation on preservation and access to documentary heritage, a high level International Experts’ Meeting was held in Warsaw, Poland, from 25 to 28 June 2014. The Government of Poland offered its valuable cooperation and financial support for hosting this important event.

The main goal of the collective consultation of experts was to put on solid ground the process of drafting of this first-ever normative instrument that is to be adopted at the next session of the General Conference in November 2015.

At the opening session the participants were greeted by Ms Małgorzata Omilanowska, Minister of Culture and National Heritage of Poland, Mr Sławomir Ratajski, Secretary General of the Polish National Commission for UNESCO and Mr Władysław Stępniak, Director of the Head Office of the State Archives. In her statement the Minister reaffirmed the support of her Government to UNESCO’s efforts to preserve effectively the documentary heritage of the world and pointed out how the historical events made Poland fully understand the need to better protect and promote its archives and records and to support specific programmes of digitization, preservation of and accessibility to its rich cultural and documentary heritage.

On behalf of the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Boyan Radoykov, Chief of Section in the Knowledge Societies Division, expressed UNESCO’s deep appreciation of the ardent and long-standing commitment of the Government of Poland to the activities of the Organization in a very important area of its mandate, namely the preservation of and accessibility to documentary heritage. He also emphasized the particular connotation of this meeting with its sense of historical significance when something new of great universal importance is being initiated.

The meeting was attended by 39 experts from all around the world, participating in their personal capacity. The discussions took place in a dynamic, well-structured and engaging atmosphere that enabled a better understanding of the issues and challenges at stake. The meeting concluded successfully its work with the formulation of concrete suggestions about the main pillars of the future standard-setting instrument as well as with specific recommendations under each of the pillars. The overarching emphasis of the experts recommendations is that the world's documentary heritage is a common one and that it should be fully preserved and protected, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, and should be accessible for all without hindrance.

The preliminary report by the Director-General, together with the first draft of the Recommendation will be sent officially to all UNESCO Member States in September 2014 for their comments and observations on that report.