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Regional forum raises youth interest for documentary heritage

UNESCO’s Memory of the World Regional Committee for Asia Pacific (MOWCAP) discussed visibility, legal status and social media presence at its 5th meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, 14-16 May 2012.


A debate about enhancing the global value of UNESCO’s Memory of the World programme was amongst the main meeting highlights, in particular the choice between Convention and Recommendation status. Memory of the World is one of UNESCO’s three main heritage programmes, besides the World Heritage and the Intangible heritage programmes, the latter two being ruled by international conventions. 

“If your country decides not to become signatory of that convention, the status of the Memory of the World committee programme that exists in your country is highly deniable. I know that in the case of Australia, non-signatory to the Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage, as far as the government is concerned, the intangible cultural heritage programme does not exist,” said Dr. Jan Lyall, Australian World Heritage Committee.

Dr. Helen Jarvis, adviser for the Royal Government of Cambodia and one of several proponents for drafting a convention illustrated: “I was very much supporting the idea of a convention. I think the most important is that the status is consistent.” 

Another issue of concern was how to promote Memory of the World in Asia and the Pacific through communication and media. To step into social media presence, a MOWCAP Facebook page was launched and a website will go online in few months. 

“At this meeting we have launched the first Facebook page and will be remodeling our web site to be much more user-friendly, useful and attractive for young people,” said Ray Edmondson, MOWCAP Chair. For raising visibility, also a coffee table book “Memory” about documentary heritage in the region is under preparation. 

Finally, the meeting approved four nominations for the Asia-Pacific Regional Memory of the World Register in 2012. These nominations include the Woodblocks at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, Vietnam; Qiao Pi and Yinxin: Correspondence and Remittance Documents from oversea Chinese, China; Official Records of Tibet from the Yuan Dynasty, 1304-1367, Tibet Autonomous Region of China; and the FE Williams Collection, Australia and Papua New Guinea. 

The MOWCAP meeting with 60 participants from 13 countries was held in partnership with the Thai National Memory of the World Committee, the Ministries of Culture and of Education, and the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Archaeology and the Fine Arts (SPAFA). 

The Memory of the World programme was first launched in 1992 to recognize and preserve documentary heritage and raise public awareness of the importance of written memory of humankind. In 1998, MOWCAP was set up as a regional forum. Members from across Asia-Pacific attend the biennial meeting to review and discuss activities and strategies. 


By Panya Laongthong, UNESCO Bangkok 


Related link:

Photo Gallery - MOWCAP 5th General Meeting