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16.12.2015 - Communication & Information Sector

UNESCO Memory of the World Programme calls for new nominations for the International Register 2016-2017 nomination cycle

UNESCO is inviting new nomination proposals for inscription on its Memory of the World International Register, established in 1997. Any government, institution, organization, group or individual may submit nominations for the Memory of the World Register. However, priority will be given to nominations made by or through relevant heritage institutions and to documentary heritage under threat. Ideally, nominations should be submitted through the National Commissions for UNESCO or the Memory of the World National Committees in the countries where they are located. In addition, two or more governments, institutions, organizations, groups or individuals may put forward joint nominations where collections are shared among several owners or custodians. Such prior collaboration is strongly encouraged.

The documentary heritage nominated must be finite and precisely defined; broad, general or open-ended nominations will not be accepted. The Register does not include all the records in public and private archives, no matter how important those bodies or individuals may be. Repositories should nominate for inclusion on the Register only those documents that fulfil the defined criteria, including that of world significance. Once added to the Memory of the World Register, the document group cannot be changed or redefined over time.

In the case of documentary heritage which exists in several locations, or several owners or custodians, full details of each component, owner or custodian are to be provided.

Proposals should be based on the selection criteria listed in the General Guidelines to Safeguard Documentary Heritage, which stipulates that the most important criterion for inscription on the Register is the world significance of the documentary heritage. Nominations should be written in a neutral and objective manner.

In using this form, the nominator authorizes the utilization of images submitted with this nomination by the UNESCO Secretariat for posting on the Memory of the World website and for non-profit, publicity purposes for the Programme.

Why nominate an item or collection for the MOW international Register?

  • Strategic opportunities arising from right to use the high-status Memory of the World logo
  • Prestige conferred on organizations and collections as a result of UNESCO’s recognition
  • Opportunities for increased public awareness
  • Strengthening arguments for sponsorship, grants and annual funding for preservation
  • Being part of the global effort to enhance awareness and support for the preservation of documentary heritage


The nomination programme operates biennially – from October 2015 to October 2017. The deadline for the submission of nominations is 31 May 2016 and submissions received after this date will be studied in the 2018/2019 session only. They should be submitted in Word, RTF or Open Office format to UNESCO's Memory of the World Secretariat:

  • by email to: mowsecretariat(at)unesco.org;
  • by mail, accompanied by an electronic version, addressed to: Mrs Iskra Panevska, Memory of the World Programme, Knowledge Societies Division, 7 Place de Fontenoy, 75352 Paris 07 SP

Where can I see the new proposals?

Nominations are posted on the Programme’s website and illustrations, such as photographs or slides (TIFF, GIF, JPEG formats), and sound recordings (real-media) can be included to help describe and illustrate the proposal. As the images submitted may often be used by the Memory of the World Secretariat in publicity materials, an authorization for their reuse for non-profit purposes should also be included. A copy of this form can be downloaded here and the nomination form here.

At present, a total of 348 are inscribed on the International Register of the Memory of the World Programme. Regional registers have been created for the Memory of the World Committees for Asia/Pacific (MOWCAP) and Latin America/Caribbean (MOWLAC), and an increasing number of countries have now established national registers.

How are the proposals assessed?

Assessment for inscription on the Register is determined by a panel of experts against the strict criteria of the Programme, first by the Register Sub-committee (RSC) composed of 9 experts and the International Advisory Committee (IAC, composed of 14 experts) whose decisions are forwarded for endorsement by  the Director-General of UNESCO. According to the defined criteria, inscription of documents to the International Register recognizes their world significance and importance for future generations.

Please note the 2015-2017 nomination cycle is launched under existing Statutes, Rules of Procedure, as well as current Guidelines and Register Companion. The Guidelines and Register Companion are being reviewed by decision of the International Advisory Committee, as may be the Statutes and Rules of Procedures.

UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 to guard against collective amnesia calling upon the preservation of the valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world ensuring their wide dissemination. The Programme is intended to protect documentary heritage, and helps networks of experts to exchange information and raise resources for preservation of, and access to, documentary material.

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