Status of the 2016/2017 nomination cycle of the Memory of the World International Register
In line with the nominations process of the Memory of the World (MoW) Programme, the UNESCO Secretariat called for proposals for the 2016/2017 nomination cycle for possible inscription on the MoW International Register.
By the deadline of 31 May, 2016, the Secretariat of the MoW Programme had received 130 proposals.
As per the MoW General Guidelines to Safeguard Documentary Heritage, the Secretariat recorded each nomination and confirmed receipt to the nominator. After this, the Secretariat spent time verifying contents and accompanying documentation, including, where necessary, entering into discussion regarding a number of proposals with respect to required documentation and compliance.
At the same time, the Secretariat began the process of transmitting complete nominations to the Register Sub-committee (RSC) of the International Advisory Committee (IAC).
The IAC itself sat from 24 to 27 October 2017 at the UNESCO Headquarters to assess the nomination files and make recommendations.
Following this meeting, the IAC recommended 78 new nominations for the Memory of the World International Register and proposed three additions to existing inscriptions.
The IAC also recommended that the Director-General should facilitate dialogue among the nominators of the nominations “Voices of the ‘Comfort Women’” and “Documentation on ‘Comfort Women’ and Japanese Army discipline” and concerned parties, including setting a place and time convenient to the parties for this dialogue, with a view to leading to a joint nomination to encompass as far as possible all relevant documents.
The Office of the UNESCO Director-General issued a press release on 30 October 2017, in which the Director-General, Irina Bokova, endorsed all the recommendations of the IAC.
In so doing, she emphasized, “It is my deep and firm conviction that the Memory of the World Programme should be guided in its work to preserve documentary heritage and memory for the benefit of present and future generations in the spirit of dialogue, international cooperation and mutual understanding, building peace in the minds of women and men.”
Two nominations from the 2016/2017 nomination cycle were provisionally recommended for inscription by the IAC at its sitting in October 2017. After receiving the additional information requested by the IAC, these two nominations – “Manuscript collection of the Gazi Husrev-Beg Library (Bosnia and Herzegovina)” and “The Piri Reis World Map (Turkey)” – were endorsed by the UNESCO Director-General in January 2018, thereby completing the 2016/2017 nomination cycle.
The nomination process was guided by the decision 202 EX/15 of the Executive Board, wherein Member States reaffirmed the goal of the MoW Programme as expressed by the General Conference in 2015 in the Recommendation concerning the preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage, including in digital form.
The Recommendation underlines “the importance of documentary heritage to promote the sharing of knowledge for greater understanding and dialogue, in order to promote peace and respect for freedom, democracy, human rights and dignity”, and considers “at the same time that the preservation of, and long-term accessibility to documentary heritage underpins fundamental freedoms of opinion, expression, and information as human rights.”
In that Executive Board decision, Member States also requested the Director-General to engage, in cooperation with Member States, and building on the work produced by the International Advisory Committee (IAC) Working Groups, in a comprehensive review of the programme, and present an action plan for this review to the 204th session of the Executive Board (Spring 2018).
In addition, Member States called upon the Director-General, the members of the IAC, and all stakeholders of the MoW Programme to abide by the principles of dialogue, mutual understanding and respect and to avoid further political tensions concerning the MoW Programme.