The International Advisory Committee (IAC) meets to chart way forward for the Memory of the World Programme

16 March 2018

An extraordinary session of the International Advisory Committee (IAC) took place yesterday. Called by the UNESCO Director-General, the meeting was aimed at  advancing the important work of the Committee, including sharpening the focus of the MoW Programme in response to the need for building capacities for preserving and accessing documentary heritage in Member States with priority given to Africa, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

During the meeting, the IAC members decided to complete the IAC-led review documents by 5 April 2018 in order to allow for UNESCO’s Member States to consult the documents, as need may be, as part of the comprehensive review process for which UNESCO is expected to submit an action plan at the 204th session of the Executive Board in April.

In taking forward the discussion on refocusing the work of the MoW Programme, there was unanimity that the Programme needs to pay greater attention to setting up national MoW committees as a viable framework for raising public awareness of the growing importance of preserving documentary heritage.

The meeting agreed that, while the MoW registers were the most well-known aspect of the Programme, there was even greater need to highlight the rich diversity of documentary heritage that did not find its way into the registers – all this as part of a wide-ranging strategy to support national and global efforts for sustainable management and preservation of invaluable documentary heritage.

In this regard, the IAC members fully supported the efforts by UNESCO’s MoW Secretariat to hold a series of regional consultations in Africa and the Arab States on the implementation of the 2015 Recommendation concerning the preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage, including in digital form.

They also expressed their support for the planned capacity-building events aimed at prioritizing the programme’s focus on disaster risk reduction and management as a strategic framework for preserving documentary heritage, especially in LDCs and SIDS.

The extraordinary meeting also decided on the composition of the new IAC Bureau, by agreeing on the following membership:

  • Dr Abdulla Alraisi (United Arab Emirates): Chairperson
  • Mr Papa Momar Diop (Senegal): Vice-Chairperson
  • Mr David Fricker (Australia): Vice-Chairperson
  • Mr. Jussi Nuorteva (Finland): Vice-Chairperson
  • Ms. Rita Tjien Fooh (Suriname): Rapporteur

UNESCO launched the MoW Programme in 1992 to guard against collective amnesia through the preservation of valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world. In so doing, the programme also ensures wider access to such heritage. 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.