Regional Memory of the World Committees

Regional co-ordination frameworks and mechanisms for the Memory of the World Programme.

Regional Memory of the World committees are cooperative structures that bring together people from two or more countries in order to pursue the Programme’s objectives. The grouping may be (for example) geographically based, or based on other parameters such as shared cultures or interests, or grouped around regional offices of UNESCO*. Regional committees provide a means of addressing issues which fall outside the practical scope of the IAC on the one hand, and of individual national committees on the other, and provide a mechanism for cooperation and complementation beyond the national level. Membership would normally include representatives of the national committees relevant to the grouping. 

The parameters for national committees, with obvious adaptations, apply for regional committees. In practice, because there is unlikely to be a standard pattern, the terms of reference, membership and accreditation of a regional committee would be a matter for discussion between the Secretariat and intending members. Either may take the initiative to establish the committee. It will usually be the case that there is an appropriate regional office of UNESCO for the committee to relate to and provide accreditation. 

Terms of reference for regional committees will vary with need, but they could include: 

  • Maintaining a regional Memory of the World International register;
  • Nominating groups of documentary heritage to the regional or international registers that cross national boundaries or are otherwise unlikely to be proposed; 
  • Encouraging cooperation and training within the region; 
  • Managing projects within the region; 
  • “Backstopping” for countries in the region that do not have national committees; 
  • Encouraging the establishment of national committees and coachingthem; 
  • Region-wide coordination of publicity and awareness-raising.

National committees are encouraged, but not required, to link to a relevant regional committee. By the same token, regional committees need not be comprised solely of representatives of national committees: they may, for instance, include representatives of National Commissions of UNESCO from countries which do not have national Memory of the World committees. 



* The three regional committees in operation at the time of writing – in Asia-Pacific, Latin America-Caribbean and Africa – are based on geography: a shared history and culture extending beyond national boundaries.

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