29.03.2012 - UNESCO

UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme turns 20

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This year UNESCO’s Memory of the World (MoW) Programme is celebrating its 20th anniversary. UNESCO will be organizing activities throughout the year to raise awareness of this important milestone, starting with the formal launch of the celebration campaign on 2 April 2012.

In her message on the occasion of the Programme anniversary, the Chair of the Memory of the World International Advisory Committee Roslyn Russell underlines the significance of the world’s documentary heritage and the importance of its preservation.

Launched in 1992, the Memory of the World Programme aims at preserving and providing access to documentary heritage held in libraries, archives and museums as the embodiment of the ‘memory’ of humanity. Its mission is to facilitate preservation, by the most appropriate techniques, of the world's documentary heritage; to assist universal access to documentary heritage; and to increase awareness worldwide of the existence and significance of documentary heritage. The principal vehicles for such awareness-raising are the UNESCO Memory of the World registers, which now operate at international, regional and national levels.

There are now 245 inscriptions on the International Memory of the World Register, and the number of nominations increases in every assessment round. A persistent problem for the Programme though is that some 50 per cent of the inscriptions on the International Register come from the countries of Europe. Attempts to improve the success rate for nominations coming from outside Europe have been made in recent years in different regions.

The Programme has met considerable success and interest in the past years with more than 50 per cent increase of nominations in the last nomination cycle. However, as several speakers noted at the Fourth International Memory of the World Conference (Warsaw, Poland) there is still considerable confusion in the public’s mind as to Memory of the World’s role in international heritage protection. A number of suggestions were made at the Warsaw conference as to possible pathways to achieving higher public profile and resourcing for the Programme. We hope that this year’s celebrations will help raise awareness and will promote the Programme’s ideals and principles worldwide.

The full text of Roslyn Russell’s message is available here.




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