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MOWCAP meets new UNESCO Advisor

From left to the right: Karolin Rist (UNESCO), Rosa Gonzalez (UNESCO), Helen Swinnerton (MOWCAP Secretary-General) Ruben Cabezas (UNESCO), Ray Edmonson (MOWCAP Chairperson), Andrew Scarvell (Australian MOW Committee), Rujaya Abhakorn (MOWCAP Goodwill Patron). ©UNESCO/H.Pardo

The Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific (MOWCAP) held a briefing session on 31 August in UNESCO/Bangkok on the occasion of the appointment of the new UNESCO Advisor for Communication and Information in UNESCO/Bangkok, Rosa Gonzalez. During the briefing, committee members discussed the outcomes of the 5th MOWCAP General meeting held in May this year as well as current MOWCAP projects such as online presence in internet and social networks, the development of complementary approaches to cultural heritage safeguarding, the MOW structure and regulations, the new inscriptions and activities in the region and future plans for the programme.

The CI Advisor highlighted “the remarkable job that the MOWCAP Committee has done in the region where it has actively promoted the MOW programme, sensitizing governments and other local counterparts about documentary preservation issues and motivating submissions to the regional registry”. “MOWCAP members are highly committed to helping UNESCO reach the goals of the programme”, she said.

Asked about the future of the programme, Ms. Gonzalez assured that “MOW will continue to promote the preservation of and access to documentary heritage in the region with the support and assistance of committed partners. The MOW has reached a significant level of visibility in Member States and we should ensure that this visibility continues to grow after this year’s celebration of the programme’s 20th anniversary. The programme will also need to attract funding donors to ensure that a consolidated strategy can be implemented in the next few years”.

For Ray Edmondson, Chair of MOWCAP, the objectives of MOW programme are mostly long term. “We want to change the way people think – to increase the value and priority which communities and governments place on their documentary heritage, to make the heritage more visible, and to make its protection and accessibility better resourced. I expect we will see the Register grow with further inscriptions, I expect we will all leave better informed on some crucial preservation issues, we will go away with ideas we have picked up from colleagues, we’ll be affirmed in our vocations and we will know we are not alone. We are working to protect the documentary heritage for an indefinite future, so we have long time horizons”.

UNESCO established the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 to preserve and promote the world’s documentary heritage in a similar way that UNESCO's World Heritage List recognizes significant natural and cultural sites. Every day, fragments, if not entire sections of documentary heritage disappear forever. The Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific aims to assist in preserving and facilitating access to documentary heritage in the region, where many archives, libraries and other institutions hold rare collections of manuscripts and other valuable documentary materials (whether in written, audiovisual or electronic forms) but face formidable preservation challenges. 

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By Ruben Cabezas, UNESCO Bangkok