By Alain Comlan Godonou
Director/Officer in Charge
UNESCO Cluster Office for the Pacific States
Remarks on Museums Day
It is my great pleasure and honour to say few words in the name of UNESCO, part of our UN family here in Samoa for this joint event: The celebration of International Museums Day and International Archives Day 2016.
As defined by ICOM (International Council of Museums), “Museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.”
This year we’re celebrating: Museums and Cultural Landscapes.
The theme Museums and Cultural Landscapes makes museums responsible for their landscapes, asking them to contribute in knowledge and expertise and take an active role in their management and upkeep. The primary mission of museums is to oversee heritage, whether it be inside or outside their walls. Their natural vocation is to expand their mission and implement their own activities in the open field of cultural landscape and heritage that surrounds them and for which they can assume varying degrees of responsibility.
Highlighting the link between museums and cultural heritage enhances the idea of museums as territorial centers involved in actively protecting the cultural landscape. The objective of International Museum day is to raise awareness of the fact that, “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples”.
Let’s come now to the International Archives Day 2016, with the theme: Friendships and Harmony in Archives.
UNESCO embraces the value of archives as one of the tools to enable the preservation and access to knowledge and selective information.
Archives being records of significant value are essential components of any strategy intended to enhance the availability of information for the public and specialised institutions.
In the area of archives, UNESCO, through its Records and Archives Management Programme - RAMP (established in 1979) aims at:
• Making the general public and decision-makers aware of the importance of records and archives for planning and development safeguarding of the national heritage;
• Assisting Member States in the establishment of efficient records and archives management infrastructures through standardization , archival legislation, training, and enhancing infrastructure (buildings and equipment);
• Promoting international debates on main issues in the archival field.
This year’s celebration of the International Archives Day, is the first activity that our UNESCO Office for the Pacific States has supported and collaborated with the National Archives and Records Authority – a division of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture.
UNESCO has supported the representation of the NARA at the first Pacific sub regional Consultation on the UNESCO Memory of the World programme in 2015 and also to the 7th General Conference of the Memory of the World Committee of the Asia Pacific in Vietnam just last month.
But the most important thing is the way forward, our future collaborations:
UNESCO and NARA share the same interests. To safeguard our heritage whether they be in documents, films, artefacts and other forms. We share a common goal to ensure that our people are able to access these records when needed. We share a common goal to promote the value of archives so it will be supported and appreciated at all levels.
From our part, we intend to amplify our collaboration with NARA on the following activities
• Enhance record keeping and management skills and knowledge of records keepers in Samoa
• Enhance Samoa recognition on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register
• Promoting the value of Archives through ICA Days and other promotional activities
In keeping with the theme of Archives, Harmony and Friendship, records and archives professionals around the world are encouraged to share ideas, which include: the changing nature of recordkeeping in the digital age; opportunities for cooperation within and outside of the archival milieu; the uses of and role of archives in support of truth, justice and reconciliation; and opportunities for harmony and friendship in archival endeavors.
I would like to ensure you that UNESCO Apia Office for the Pacific States will continue to support your effort to strengthen these two institutions here in Samoa Museums & Archives.
Fa’afetai lava. Thank you very much and all the best.