Access rules

The Rules governing access by external researcher to the UNESCO archives are set in the UNESCO Administrative Manual, Appendix 9.5 A:

1. Overview
1.1 The rules set out below govern access by persons, other than members of the Secretariat, to the UNESCO Archives, including access to archives that other bodies have deposited with the Organization.

2. Definitions
2.1 Access is defined as the right and possibility to consult archives, either on the spot (reading room) or from a distance (internet).

3. Policies
3.1 The UNESCO Archives will act on its cultural and knowledge sharing function by providing access to the archives in accordance with fair and liberal criteria, by editing search engines and by making use of new information technologies to disseminate archival information.

4. Roles, Authorities and Accountabilities
4.1 ADM/DIT/ISS/ARC is responsible for formulating the rules on access to the Organization’s archives.

5. Procedures and Processes
5.1 As a general rule, Secretariat correspondence and administrative files are opened for consultation after 20 years, the number of years being counted from the most recent item in the file.

5.2 UNESCO official documents, including field mission reports, and publications are, as a general rule, freely accessible in the UNESCO Archives reading room. However, documents marked restricted or confidential may only be consulted before 20 years by prior agreement with the relevant unit of the Secretariat.

5.3 The following Secretariat records are open for consultation only after 50 years:
(a) Files containing exceptionally sensitive information on relations between UNESCO and its Member States, between UNESCO and the United Nations, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations;
(b) Files containing papers which, if divulged, might injure the reputation, affect the privacy or endanger the safety of individuals;
(c) Personnel files of officials or agents of UNESCO;
(d) Confidential files of the offices of the Director-General, Deputy Director-General and ADGs.

5.4 Access to a document or file not yet within the open consultation period may be granted by the Chief Archivist in exceptional cases, and with the agreement of the appropriate official(s) or unit(s) of the Secretariat provided that:
(a) The Chief Archivist is satisfied that the applicant, who may be required to provide documentary evidence to this effect, has a legitimate interest in the material;
(b) The granting of access would in no way be detrimental to the interests of the Organization.

5.5 The Organization cannot exempt researchers from any copyright liabilities of material in the UNESCO Archives.

5.6 Researchers are required to deposit with the Archives one copy of any text that, in whole or in part, is based on or relates to material made available from the Organization’s archives.

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