UNESCO adopts the Universal Declaration on Archives

Digital Services Friday, November 25, 2011 - 14:04

On 7th November 2011 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the Universal Declaration on Archives, proposed by the International Congress of Archives. It is the culmination of intense efforts led by Papa Momar Diop, the Ambassador of Senegal at UNESCO and the former National Archivist of Senegal, supported by Jens Boel, Head Archivist at UNESCO, and activists in the ICA network throughout the world.

 
This Declaration states that Archives record decisions, actions and memories; that they are unique and irreplaceable heritage passed from one generation to another; that Archives are authoritative sources of information underpinning accountable and transparent administrative actions; and that they play an essential role in the development of societies by safeguarding and contributing to individual and community memory.
 
The Declaration makes the point that “open access to archives enriches our knowledge of human society, promotes democracy, protects citizens' rights and enhances the quality of life.” The full text of the declaration can be read here: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002134/213423e.pdf 
 
The Declaration recognizes the role of archives for supporting business efficiency, accountability and transparency; the multiplicity of formats in which archives are created; the necessity for trained professional archivists and the sufficient resourcing of archives; and the necessity for appropriate archives policies and laws to be enforced and the necessity of access by citizens to archives.
 
While in the past archives and records have had a somewhat ‘dusty old’ reputation, today most records and archives are created electronically and are accessible digitally. They require technological solutions to preserve the evidence of our actions and our memory. The Declaration underscores their fundamental role in enriching human society and understandings about ourselves and is a reminder of the importance of archives in our society. The State Records Office welcomes the Declaration and fully supports the spirit and intention of its aims.
 
Cathrin Cassarchis
State Archivist and Executive Director State Records
State Records Office of Western Australia