Last week I attended the International Council on Archives (ICA) 2018 Conference at Palais des Congrès in Yaounde, Cameroon, and I would like to share some highlights…
Before the conference, David Fricker who is President of ICA welcomed its members. He said that the conference was the premier event on the professional calendar to strengthen networks and gather the ‘professional intelligence’ that enables each of us in the field to stay at the very forefront of developments from around the globe. He added, “The conference will be a forum to share technical knowledge, but will also serve to promote the importance of archives and records management across the region as an essential requirement for good governance and effective public administration.”
The theme of the conference was “Archives : Governance, Memory and Heritage.” The Prime Minister of Cameroon, Philemon Yang, believed that the theme’s importance is self-evident for Africa, internally falls in line with the initiatives and public policies that the Government of Cameroon deploys so as to put in place an efficient national archives management system.
The Conference ran for three days, November, 26-28. The program included ICA governance meetings, keynote speakers, workshops and breakout sessions. The ICA Executive Board Meeting was held on Sunday 25 November. The Executive Board discussed the organisation’s strategic directions which will contribute to the creation of the 2019-2022 strategic plan. Among ICA strategic priorities, the Executive Board decided to choose 2019 as the year of Africa. The Africa Program has been allocated resources to allow it to pursue two main objectives: raising governments awareness of archival issues on the one hand, and training professionals in the field on the other.
The Executive Board then discussed ongoing partnerships and joint initiatives between ICA and other international organizations, in particular the UNESCO-PERSIST project and the Swisspeace initiative for Prevention of Illicit Trafficking and Disaster Recovery and Heritage Preservation, as well as the “Memory of the World” program.
The General Assembly was then held on Monday 26 November. Assembly heard reports from the President and the Vice-Presidents Program and Finance, approved the organization’s accounts and endorsed the results for the election of officers from September 2018. Mr David Fricker and Mr Zuber were re-elected and Mr Charbonneau elected for a 4 years mandate. The General Assembly also nominated Mr Gérard Ermisse, Mr Carol Couture and Mr Jonathan Rhys-Lewis as Fellows of ICA, to acknowledge and celebrate these three great professionals.
As for me, the conference was very busy. On the second day I helped facilitate The Basics of Emergency Management and Disaster Preparedness Workshop. This interactive workshop examined the four basic stages of disaster preparedness: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. It helped participants to consider all situations and levels of the disaster’s impact, particularly those that cause damage to records, collections, and disrupt the flow of business and services.
The workshop was also intended to inspire participants to be more proactive before, during and after a disaster occurs at their organization. At the end of the workshop, I brought to the participant’s attention the launching of the PARBICA’s new disaster management’s guidelines. The five guidelines will guide record keeping professionals through the steps in effective disaster preparedness, response and recovery, and will show you how to identify vital records and assess significant records.
Finally, on the last day of the conference I presented my paper titled Combating Climate Change the Traditional Way: Pacific Island Archives and the Fight to Protect Their Cultural Heritage. The paper showed how Pacific Islanders are utilizing their traditional ways to combat the threats caused by climate change. Inspired by this proactive stance and the use of traditional skills, those responsible for safekeeping cultural heritage can also learn to be more resilient. These techniques being executed by record keepers of the Pacific Islands region will then hopefully set an example and encourage worldwide cultural heritage organizations whose collection are threatened by climate change.
Overall, the conference was a success. New relationships with colleagues from around the world were formed, and old ones were renewed. The colorful, exotic African backdrop proved to show that this will be one of ICA’s most remembered conference.