29.10.2012 - UNESCO Office in Tehran

Countries in UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office agreed on exploring plans to strengthen the Memory of the World Programme

Director of UNESCO Tehran Tarja Virtanen during the interview by a TV station (©UNESCO)

Four countries of UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, namely Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Turkmenistan, came to an agreement to explore plans in strengthening the Memory of the World. Some of a number of steps to be undertaken by the four countries include the establishment of national committees for the Memory of the World in the countries of the Cluster that have not yet had such a committee in place, and capacity-building in the protection and safeguarding of documentary heritage through organizing training courses and regular exchanges of information and experts among them.

The above agreements are part of the recommendations reached by the participants representing the four countries, at the end of a sub-regional seminar, held in Tehran, Iran, 21 to 22 October 2012, co-organised by UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office and the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, with supports from the Iranian National Library and Archives and the Iranian National Committee of MoW, to mark the 20th anniversary of the MoW.

Some of the other points of the recommendations also include the creation of databases of documentary heritage at a national level, including through the implementation of national surveys and networking among the four cluster countries, as well as facilitating access to documentary heritage for the public in general and among the four cluster countries in particular through various means including digitization and other multimedia platforms.

It was also recommended that the Memory of the World Programme should be integrated into educational curricula. And when the condition is ready, a sub-regional Consultative Committee on the Memory of the World with memberships from the four countries but could be expanded later, should also be formed. The most important activity to be pursued by and through this committee at the initial phase is training and exchange of experiences and information on the MoW. Activities for the next phases could comprise the implementation of joint projects, including preparation of a sub-regional tentative list and nominations.

 All the important points that are part of what is called “Tehran Recommendations” were extracted from ideas and views that have been exchanged by the participants in lively discussions during the two-day event, with a closing ceremony hosted by the National Library and Archives of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In her opening remarks delivered on the first day of the event, Director and Representative of UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, Mme. Tarja Virtanen stressed the importance of collaborative efforts that have been, or to be, pursued by the four countries to respond to the current challenges in the field of MoW, including to explore the digitization of MoW items. Mme. Virtanen also saw the seminar as a platform to share ideas and experiences of the participating countries, most notably Iran who so far has succeeded in having five items inscribed in the World Register of MoW. Pakistan has one item, whereas Afghanistan and Turkmenistan have all the potential and assets to explore and offer their country’s richness in MoW to the world.

Mme. Virtanen also encouraged that the future plans and ideas to be developed in the context of Vancouver Declaration, that was recently issued by more than 500 participants from more than 100 countries who participated in an international conference of MoW, organized by UNESCO and University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada in September 2012 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the MoW.

In her written remarks, UNESCO’s focal point responsible in handling MoW programme at UNESCO HQ, Ms. Joie Springer outlined the brief history of MoW programme as well as its importance and value to be inherited to the next generations; therefore it needs to be preserved through various means including through the digitations efforts.

The expectation of closer and stronger collaboration were also the touched upon by the Secretary General of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, Dr. Saeidabadi, in his welcome speech. Two possible ideas were brought forward in his presentation for possible consideration, that is, the formation of a sub-regional team, and possible submission of joint-nomination among countries to the World Register.

The forum also heard the presentation of representative from the four countries. Mr. Habib Ahmad Khan, Director General of National Archives of Pakistan, outlined the plan and idea of Pakistan including to share the collection of Pakistan’s archives to contribute towards the MoW. Dr. Poladov, Secretary-General of Turkmenistan National Commission for UNESCO and Mr. Hayatulla Mehryar from the Afghanistan National Commission for UNESCO were also taking the similar line to promote the closer collaborative approach. Both of them also suggested that the specific condition, readiness, capacity and resources of each country to implement the MoW programme should also be taken into account.

Dr. Salahi, Head of National Library and Archives of the Islamic Republic of Iran who is also the President of Iranian National Committee for MoW explained the works that have been implemented by Iran and the Committee’s achievements towards promoting the MoW programme in Iran over the past several years. He also informed the forum about the Committee’s future plans including the possible joint-submission.

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