Inauguration ceremony for the 25th Anniversary of MOW Programme opened by the Deputy Director-General of UNESCO

22 September 2017

In 2017, UNESCO celebrates the 25th Anniversary of its Memory of the World (MOW) Programme.  A special event launching the MOW exhibition was held yesterday at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. This exhibition runs from 15 September to 30 October 2017. The inauguration of the exhibition and the celebration of the 25th Anniversary took place in the presence of Ambassadors and Permanent Delegates to UNESCO, representatives of partner institutions and experts, who gathered to mark the event and witness the achievements of the Programme.

In his inauguration speech, Mr Getachew Engida, UNESCO’s Deputy Director-General, highlighted that “Today is an opportunity for us all to celebrate the tremendous benefits of cultural diversity, through humanity’s rich documentary heritage, and to reaffirm our commitment to building a more peaceful world, founded on the values of mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue. Even as we celebrate the inauguration of the Memory of the World exhibition today, we must remember that documentary heritage is increasingly under threat. Across the world, violent extremists have targeted cultural minorities and destroyed our shared heritage, in an attempt to weaken the essential links between people and their own history.”

The participants in the inauguration ceremony were also addressed by the Chairperson of the Executive Board, Ambassador Michael Worbs, who underlined on that occasion: "I am very impressed by this exhibition and pleased to be with you this evening. The Memory of the World Programme is important for UNESCO and for its Member States. Its significance was demonstrated during the discussion, which took place this morning during the intersessional meeting. I look forward to the debate that will take place during the 202nd session of the Board in October and to a successful outcome of the Programme’s review".

Documentary heritage in archives, libraries and museums constitute a major part of the memory of the peoples of the world and reflect the diversity of language and cultures. The MOW Programme’s vision is that the world's documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected and should be permanently accessible without hindrance.

The 2017 Memory of the World exhibition is a pictorial exposition of invaluable items listed on the MOW International Register. This documentary heritage is recorded on films, audiotapes, sculpted into stone or handwritten in paper and covers events and discoveries that have transformed our world.

The catalogue of the exhibition and the inauguration ceremony were prepared with the generous support of the UAE National Archives.

UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 to guard against collective amnesia calling upon the preservation of the valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world ensuring their wide dissemination. The Programme is thus intended to protect documentary heritage, and to help networks of experts to exchange information and raise resources for the preservation of, and the access to, documentary and archival collections of valuable records.