MOWCAP Centre opens at the Asia Culture Centre in Gwangju city, Republic of Korea
The opening ceremony of the UNESCO’s Memory of the World Committee for Asia-Pacific (MOWCAP) Centre was held on 7 September 2016 at the Asia Culture Centre (ACC) in Gwangju, Republic of Korea. More than 80 people participated in the ceremony, including experts from MOWCAP, staff of ACC and the Asia Culture Institute, representatives of the Gwangju Metropolitan City government as well as members of the Korean National Commission for UNESCO.
In his keynote speech, Dr Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of the UNESCO Bangkok Regional Office for Education, underlined that the MOWCAP Centre is being opened in a crucial period of the Memory of the World Programme history, with a global review of the Programme currently taking place. “The opening of the Centre is not only a major step for the Programme to realize its full potential in the region but also an example for other regions across the world to follow,” he said. Sharing his vision of the Centre as a meeting place for all MOWCAP members, Dr Kim pointed that it is also to be a “place for dialogue, discussion, exchange of ideas and friendship among people across the region.”
The MOWCAP Chairperson, Mr Li Minghua, in his opening remarks emphasized the need for increased cooperation among the countries in the region and participation in the Memory of the World Programme. “The majority of countries in Asia-Pacific are still not actively participating in the Memory of the World Programme. It is our common responsibility to demonstrate the significance of documentary heritage and to encourage those countries to take interest in the Programme,” he said.
Mr Bang Sun-gyu, President of ACC, cited UNESCO as a “valuable partner for Korea’s development and prosperity” and shared his willingness through the newly opened Centre “to encourage more people to get to know the Memory of the World Programme and to raise awareness on the urgent need to preserve memories.”
The MOWCAP Centre was established through an agreement signed between the MOWCAP Chair and ACC in December 2015. The Centre aims to serve as an information and documentation centre for the MoW Programme in Asia-Pacific, accessible to a large public. The Centre will promote more visibility of the Programme in the region and host the MOWCAP secretarial assistant to facilitate the work of the Bureau. The opening ceremony was followed by a half-day public seminar on the role and work of the Centre.
The opening ceremony of the MOWCAP Centre was held in the middle of protests led by civil society groups belonging to the movements of “May 18th Democratic Uprising”, documents relating to which are inscribed to UNESCO’s Memory of the World International Register. Whilst the civil society groups expressed their full support to UNESCO and MOWCAP, they protested against the establishment of the Centre on the historical site of the former Jeolla Provincial Government’s Building where many protesters were killed during the May 18th uprising. It is expected that ACC will relocate the MOWCAP Centre to another building of the cultural complex in response to the public concerns around the appropriate use of the site.
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