UNESCO (Memory of the World Programme)
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established the Memory of the World Programme in 1992. The vision of the Memory of the World Programme as stated on its website (www.UNESCO.org) is that the world's documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance.
The mission of the Programme is to facilitate the preservation of the world’s documentary heritage, to assist universal access to documentary heritage and the increase awareness worldwide of the existence and significance of documentary heritage.
Africa started to participate in the Programme in 1997 when the first inscriptions on the International Register took place. South Africa was also successful in inscribing its first collection to the International Memory of the World register during that year. This collection is called the Bleek Collection and was nominated by the University of Cape Town and the South African Library. South Africa became more fully involved in the Programme in 2003 when delegates from South Africa attended the 6th IAC biennial meeting that was held in Gdansk, Poland from 28 to 30 August 2003. It was at this meeting that a representative from South Africa was appointed as one of the Deputy Presidents of Bureau of the Programme and she served in that capacity for four years (2003 – 2007).
2003 was also the year in which the Netherlands submitted the Archives of the Dutch East India Company for inclusion in the International Memory of the World register. The countries which participated in this successful nomination were: The Netherlands, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
During the 7th IAC biennial meeting that was held in Lijiang, China from 13 to 18 June 2005 the South African delegates were approached about hosting the 8th IAC meeting/conference in South Africa. The South African National Committee was also established during this year.
The 8th IAC meeting/conference subsequently took place in Pretoria from 11 to 15 June 2007 during which another two South African collections were inscribed to the collection to the International Memory of the World register. They are the Liberation Struggle Living Archive Collection, nominated by Doxa Productions and the Criminal Court Case No. 253/1963 (State Versus N Mandela and Others) nominated by the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa. Another decision which was taken during this meeting was to establish an Interim Africa Regional Committee. This committee was endorsed in 2008 and was renamed the Africa Regional Committe for Memory of the World Programme (ARCMOW).
At the 11th IAC meeting held in Gwangju, South Korea, from 18 to 21 June 2013, South Africa was successful in its nomination of the Archives of the CODESA and Archives of the Multi-Party Negotiating Process for inclusion in the International Register. This collection was nominated by the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa.