UNESCO International Advisory Committee to meet in Abu Dhabi to nominate documentary heritage of world significance

The 12th Meeting of the International Advisory Committee (IAC) will be held from 4 to 6 October 2015 in Abu Dhabi on the generous invitation of the National Archives of the United Arab Emirates. The host institution is a leading research and archival institution, charged with preserving and documenting the history and heritage of the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf region in general.

The main purpose of the meeting is to review the global progress achieved by the Memory of the World Programme and to consider and recommend new inscriptions of unique documentary heritage on the Memory of the World International Register. The International Advisory Committee (IAC) is appointed by the Director-General of UNESCO to guide the planning and the implementation of the Memory of the World Programme. It comprises 14 members serving in a personal capacity, who are chosen for their authority, knowledge and expertise in the field of the safeguarding of documentary heritage. The IAC is also mandated to seek co-operation with competent international non-governmental organizations with a view to develop useful and co-operative mechanisms to further strengthen the Programme.

During the Abu Dhabi meeting the IAC will consider 89 nominations from 61 countries. In their work, the IAC is particularly mindful of applying strictly the MOW selection criteria, as well as taking into account the legal and ethical contexts of the nominations. Particular attention is attached to the protection of rights of creators and content owners and to the requirement that nominations, if approved for inscription, should be permanently accessible to the public, particularly in the context of the new technology environments. Since archival collections and records constitute a major cultural heritage and information resource for Member States, wherever possible the IAC encourages joint nominations if documentary heritage of world significance is shared across several borders.

The IAC meets every two years in a regular session.  Decisions on the recommended new inscriptions on the MOW Register are taken in camera and are publicly announced by UNESCO press release shortly after the IAC meeting.

Impelled by its responsibility to raise awareness about the need to safeguard the world’s documentary heritage, UNESCO recognized as early as 1992, when the Memory of the World Programme was created, that urgent action is required to ensure that world's collective memory is protected and preserved for future generations. The 37th session of the General Conference of UNESCO decided that the issue of preservation and access to documentary heritage be regulated at the international level by means of a Recommendation.

This Recommendation, that will be submitted to the General Conference of UNESCO in November 2015 for possible adoption, will thus become a cornerstone of public and international documentary heritage preservation policies for the decades to come. Its main focus is to promote the establishment of principles and norms for regulation at national and international levels of the specific selection, preservation, accessibility and policy issues that are not covered by the already existing normative instruments. The news standard-setting instrument is expected to be an essential tool in the harmonization of practice in the Member States in this particular field as well as to serve for enhancing international cooperation for facilitating access to documentary heritage and the exchange of advanced preservation techniques.

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 vision is that the world's documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance