Reforming UNESCO's action on Memory of the World

The goal of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme is to protect and share the documentary heritage of humanity, guided by the vision that it should be preserved and accessible for all.

In October 2017, UNESCO's Executive Board reaffirmed this mission, underlining “the importance of documentary heritage to promote the sharing of knowledge for greater understanding and dialogue, in order to promote peace and respect for freedom, democracy, human rights and dignity.” This echoed the goals endorsed by Member States in the 2015 Recommendation concerning the Preservation, and Access to, Documentary Heritage, including in Digital Form.

In the face of new needs, including transparency and the renewed engagement of Member States in the spirit of dialogue, the Programme’s International Advisory Committee (IAC) submitted a report resulting from a review of UNESCO’s work, including recommendations, to the UNESCO Executive Board in October 2017.

Member States took note of the Report with appreciation, and requested the Director-General, in cooperation with Member States and building on the work of the IAC, to engage in a comprehensive review of the Memory of the World Programme, in the broader context of the 2015 Recommendation. The Executive Board invited the Director-General, the IAC and all stakeholders of the Programme to abide by the principles of dialogue, mutual understanding and respect.

In order to create appropriate conditions for a positive dialogue on the future of the programme, the next nomination cycle for the Memory of the World International Register will not be opened in parallel. At the same time, this will not affect the wider work of the Programme, including on support to access and the preservation of documentary heritage.

Furthermore, the Director-General has decided to invite new experts to join the IAC, as pursuant to the Statutes and Rules: Ms Maria de la Luz Rodriguez Olivares (Spain), Ms Irena Kriviene (Lithuania), Ms Catherine Alice Bloch Gerschel (Mexico), Ms Rita Tjien Fooh (Surinam), Mr Ramesch Chandra Gaur (India), Ms Dina Youssef (Egypt), and Mr Jamaâ Baida (Morocco).

The Director-General will present an action plan on a comprehensive review at the next session of the Executive Board in April.