Around 120 representatives from libraries and memory institutions from across the Middle East and North Africa joined international experts to discuss key issues relating to documentary heritage preservation in the region at a high-level conference, which was jointly organized by UNESCO Cluster Office for the Gulf States and Yemen and Qatar National Library on 1 and 2 December 2019.
One of the outcomes of the conference was the agreement among participants to launch a “Declaration to Support Preservation of Documentary Heritage in the Arab Region” calling for action on all levels to raise the standards of conservation and care of documentary heritage based on regional and global best practices.
Delegates from institutions in Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen agreed to seize the opportunities presented by digital technologies to support access, use and preservation of the region’s rich heritage. The Declaration also highlighted the need to advance an international legal instrument on preservation and access at the World Intellectual Property Organization, setting minimum standards in a digital age and enabling cross-border collaboration and exchange.
Christine Mackenzie, President of IFLA, added: “Culture is a basic need and a community thrives through its cultural heritage; it dies without it. This conference has been so important, and we heard so many stories of really terrible things that are happening to documentary heritage. It is extremely important for us to hold such events to help preserve our cultural heritage.”