Memory of the World (MoW)

The Memory of the World Programme will achieve its objectives by encouraging projects and activities not only from a global perspective, but also from regional, national and local ones. Regional and national Memory of the World committees are a crucial part of the Programme structure. As appropriate, they are encouraged to implement the five key strategies (Identification of documentary heritage, Raising awareness, Preservation, Access, and Structures, status and relationships). The success of the Programme relies heavily on the drive, initiative and enthusiasm of regional and national committees.

The formation of a national Memory of the World committee in every country where it is practicable is encouraged, and is a strategic goal. There is no rigidmodel. In some cases, a highly formalized and structured approach will be the right one: in others, the path might be more informal. The role and range of activities will vary according to resources or circumstances. Desirably it will include initiating and/or and supporting nominations for the international register, together with publicity, promotion and awareness raising, and evolving cooperation with government, professional associations and custodial institutions at the national level. When they have the reliable capacity to do so, national committees are encouraged to set up their national Memory of the World register.

National Memory of the World committees are autonomous entities with their own terms of reference and their own rules of membership and succession. To be entitled to use the Memory of the World name and logo, they must be accredited by their UNESCO National Commission, and will normally be expected to meet the following parameters:

  • An operational link with, and demonstrated support of, their National Commission for UNESCO and their regional Memory of the World committee (if any);
  • Membership which reflects the country’s geographic and cultural character, the important cultural groups, and the relevant knowledge and expertise;
  • Written terms of reference and rules, including the basis of membership and succession;
  • Ability to discharge their role (this may include funding and support, links to major archives, libraries or museums, links to government);
  • Accountability (tothe objectives of the Programme, to the register selection criteria, and to regular reporting.).

As a guide only, a template for terms of reference is set out in Annex D of the Memory of the World: General Guidelines for Safeguarding Documentary Heritage.

National committees should provide an annual report on their activities to their National Commission for UNESCO, with a copy to the Secretariat and the relevant regional committee. Copies of the committee’s rules and procedures, project contracts and, as requested, other documents should also be provided to the Secretariat. In countries without a national Memory of the World committee, the National Commission for UNESCO may itself choose to exercise the equivalent functions and responsibilities, including maintenance of the national register*, but will encourage the creation of a discrete national committee as soon as practicable.

* The national registers list documentary heritage of the nation approved for inclusion by the national committee of Memory of the World or, where there is no national committee, the corresponding National Commission of UNESCO. They will help to make governments and institutions aware of the total documentary heritage held by various kinds of organizations and private individuals, and the need for coordinated strategies to ensure the nation’s endangered heritage is protected. The listing will be kept up to date and published by one of these two bodies under the title the Tanzania Memory of the World International Register. 

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