The National Archives of Fiji and UNESCO reported that the First Sub Regional Consultation on the Memory of the World Program was held at the National Archives of Fiji on October 20-22 in Suva, Fiji. The participating members included archivists from the National Archives of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu respectively. These Archivists were able to come together through a consultation that was organised by the UNESCO Office for the Pacific States through its Communications and Information programs. UNESCO’s commitment to enable this consultation was due to its mandated and strategic Memory of the World program that aims to support national efforts to safeguard documentary heritage.
Documentary heritage can be described as the ‘recorded collective memory of the people of the world. It portrays the evolution of thought, discovery and achievements of human society.’ Documentary heritage is traditionally conserved in libraries, archives, museums and other information centers.
Etienne Clement, who is the Director of the UNESCO Office for the Pacific States, highly commended the commitment and diligence of these Archivists from around the Pacific region, in ensuring that our national histories and heritage from ancient years are preserved in acceptable infrastructures, are treated with the best conservation skills and technologies available and are shared to our people in order to revive forgotten traditions and knowledge.
The Consultation was also in response to the Pacific Regional Branch International Council on Archives (PARBICA) Business Plan strategy on Advocacy and Cooperation that stipulates the need to strengthen working relations with UNESCO on the Memory of the World. It was also an opportunity to strengthen UNESCO’s support for and collaborations with National Archives in the Pacific and to enhance joint commitment towards the Memory of the World program.
Appreciating the value of documentary heritage as a national priority is one of the many challenges that was identified in this consultation. However the consultation agreed that raising awareness plays a critical role in order to enhance understanding, appreciation and support from the custodians, researchers, communities and governments. The consultation also agreed to dedicate more effort in preparations of documentary heritage to be inscripted on to the Memory of the World Register which is the international benchmark and a very important tool to develop and promote the value of Archives.
According to the National Professional Officer for UNESCO Communications and Information programs in the Pacific, Ms Aterina Samasoni- Pele, UNESCO remains committed to organize the second sub regional consultation for the other member states that were not represented in Fiji by early 2016.
For more information regarding the UNESCO Memory of the World program, please click here.