UNESCO International Memory of the World Register: Response and recommendations regarding the International Advisory Committee's review

Article date: 27 Feb 2017, Author: UK National Commission for UNESCO

The UK National Commission for UNESCO’s 23rd Policy Brief recommends that there should be a return to the founding principles, rules and intentions of the Memory of the World Programme.

The UKNC has produced evidence and recommendations for UNESCO’s review of its Memory of the World Programme. Established in 1992, the Memory of the World Programme seeks to help build peace by encouraging universal access to our documentary history and raise awareness of the role of documentary heritage in shaping the world we live in today. The International Memory of the World Register – perhaps the most visible aspect of the Programme – is a catalogue of the world’s most prized documentary and audiovisual heritage and includes UK-based documents such as the Magna Carta.

UNESCO launched a comprehensive review of the Memory of the World Programme in 2015. The UKNC consulted with The National Archives, the UK Memory of the World Committee and the UK Departments for Culture, Media and Sport; International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to produce a series of recommendations for consideration.

The UKNC’s suggestions include a moratorium on inscriptions to the Memory of the World Register until the review has been completed and analysed; the need to stress and strengthen the independence and authority of the International Advisory Committee’s decisions on which items should be included on the Memory of the World Register; and the need to reinforce the role of National and Regional Memory of the World Committees as the primary ‘filter’ for applications for inclusion in the International Register.