» IFAP dedicated session at the International Congress on Archives in Seoul
16.09.2016 - Communication & Information Sector

IFAP dedicated session at the International Congress on Archives in Seoul


The global archival community represented by 2,049 archivists from 114 countries attended the 20th ICA Congress in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 5 to 10 September 2016. In the context of rapid technological change in a new digital age, the Congress participants were also sensitized about major policy initiatives recently approved by international governmental organizations that have significant implications for the records and archives professionals.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals as defined in Transforming Our World – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, are closely related to the work aiming at providing access to records for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive memory institutions at all levels. Furthermore, UNESCO’s Recommendation concerning the Preservation of, and Access to, Documentary Heritage, including in Digital Form, which was adopted by the General Conference at its last session, in November 2015, encourages Member States to support their memory institutions in establishing selection, collection and preservation policies, guided by internationally established and defined standards regarding documentary heritage.

During this Quadrennial Congress, records and archives professionals reaffirmed their determination to make a powerful contribution to modern society in the digital age by sharing their professional knowledge to the fullest possible extent, in a true spirit of ‘Harmony and Friendship’ for building inclusive knowledge societies. 

ICA, is working together with UNESCO and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) on a number of issues towards the shared objectives to preserve, raise awareness and promote access to the documentary treasures of humanity. The Congress provided an opportunity for a joint UNESCO/ICA presentation specifically devoted to the intergovernmental Information for All Programme, given by Dr Boyan Radoykov, Chief of the Universal Access and Preservation Section in UNESCO’s Knowledge Societies Division, and ICA President David Fricker on the key developments and initiatives that demonstrate the collaboration of UNESCO and ICA, in both  policy development and programme delivery capacity. The presentation by the panelists covered the following topics, among others:

  • the modalities of operation and the priority areas of the Information for All Programme, its recent activities and future plans for cooperation with relevant partners in the area of Information Preservation;
  • a brief summary of ICA’s recent achievements, including the Universal Declaration on Archives;
  • the UNESCO Recommendation on the Preservation of and Access to Documentary Heritage including in Digital Form;
  • the UNESCO PERSIST project that aims to provide a facility for archives, libraries and other memory institutions to interact with digital cultural heritage in obsolete or inaccessible formats;
  • the Magnetic Tape Alert Project that warns governments, decision makers and stakeholders of an unprecedented threat: unless copied to safe digital repositories, original audio and video tapes, unique documents of the world’s linguistic and cultural diversity will get definitely lost.

Mr Fricker was emphatic in his commitment to the partnership between ICA and the various UNESCO programmes. In concluding his presentation, he stressed: “ICA needs UNESCO – to provide the international awareness and leadership across member states to recognise the value of documentary heritage.  And UNESCO depends on ICA to assist in the development of products and programmes that support these ideals.”

The former Chair of the IFAP Working Group on Information Preservtion, Mr Dietrich Schüller, also addressed the session. He noted: “Over the past sixty years, substantial audio and video collections have been established that today form the most prominent documents of cultural and linguistic diversity. The present dramatic vanishing of replay equipment in operable condition will inevitably lead to the loss of all those original documents, which have not been secured in digital repositories in time.”

In his presentation, Dr Radoykov outlined the wide range of possibilities for cooperation between ICA and IFAP and the complementarity that can be brought by this intergovernmental programme to the work of the information specialists and experts, since IFAP provides a reliable platform for international policy discussions and cooperation in the area of access to and preservation of, information and knowledge.  He also underscored: “People and societies must realize that documentary heritage in all its forms, and especially the one of outstanding and universal value, is constantly under attack and threat of destruction, and that consenting to its disappearance would be the biggest failure of our times. For many years, UNESCO, together with its members and partners is striving to raise the awareness of national authorities and other relevant stakeholders about the necessity to improve the conditions for the preservation of, and the increased access to the common heritage of humanity. Several of the IFAP recent projects illustrate perfectly these efforts.

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