The Memory of the World Programme is a preservation project undertaken by UNESCO which targets archive and document materials. The program helps countries around the world protect archives and cultural properties that have been ignored or are in danger of disappearing. These archives and properties possess the same significance as those cultural and natural heritages of outstanding universal value included on the World Heritage list.

The Memory of the World Programme:

  • assists in the preservation of world documentary heritages through methods such as direct technical aid, information communication assistance, and/or aid for technical training;
  • promotes the accessibility of documentary heritages to society at large, seeking to popularize these heritages as equally and fairly as possible—this includes the digitization of documents for use on the internet, or the publication of books, CDs, DVDs, and other products; and
  • promotes global understanding of the existence and importance of documentary heritages, including the development of a Memory of the World Register.

The idea behind this international plan for action originated with a realization as to the need for documentary and visual record preservation. These records reflect multiple languages and cultures, are microcosms of the world and its memory, and belong to all of mankind. They should be properly preserved and protected. Consequently, the Memory of the World Programme seeks to register precious documents and visual records, as well as archives and libraries across the globe in order to confront “collective and global disregard” of historical heritages and guarantee that these precious materials can be widely and effectively communicated.