Communication and Information

UNESCO has a specific mandate to promote ‘the free flow of ideas by word and image’ Via the ‘Communication and Information’ programme, UNESCO also contributes to safeguarding freedom of expression, to promoting press freedom, to building communities of knowledge and securing access to information.

Freedom of expression and press freedom

Freedom of expression is a human right, irrespective of the medium used (oral, written, online, etc.). By promoting this right, UNESCO aims primarily for peace. To achieve this aim, it works with government and parliamentary authorities and political decision-makers to remind them that freedom of expression is essential in a democratic society.

UNESCO also fights for press freedom. It supports projects relating to critical journalism and education about the media. Each year, on 3 May, it holds the World Press Freedom Day during which the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is awarded.

Documentary heritage (Memory of the World)

Belgium has three committees: the Flemish Committee, the French-speaking and German-speaking Committee and the Belgian Committee.

The Flemish Memory of the World Committee

The Flemish Memory of the World Committee was formed in 2013 by the Flemish Commission for UNESCO. The Chairman of this committee is Prof. Dr. Marc Jacobs. FARO, the Flemish point of contact for cultural heritage, is acting as the temporary headquarters. The committee provides a platform for the smooth operation of the Memory of the World Programme in Flanders.

If applicable, it reviews the applications made for entry on the Memory of the World Register. An initial selection is then made by the Flemish Committee in April/May (odd years).

Contact: Marc Jacobs, Chairman of the Flemish Memory of the World Committee, marc.jacobs@faro.be

The French-speaking and German-speaking Memory of the World Committee

Founded in 2014, the French-speaking and German-speaking Memory of the World Committee provides a platform for the smooth operation of the Memory of the World Programme and helps it reach its goals. The committee members have expertise in documentary heritage according to the various existing formats.In practice, the two committees take part in the ‘Memory of the World’ Programme, in particular by:

  • supporting French-speaking and German-speaking applications for entry on the International Memory of the World Register;
  • raising awareness to the size and diversity of collections;
  • informing, publishing and promoting protection and possibilities for preservation;
  • cooperating with government institutions for the protection and conservation of collections.An initial selection of applications for entry on the Register may also be made by the Belgian French-speaking and German-speaking Committee in April/May (odd years).

Contact: Stéphanie Manfroid, Chairwoman of the French-speaking and German-speaking Memory of the World Committee, manfroid.stephanie@skynet.be

The Belgian Memory of the World Committee (Be MoW)

Founded in 2015, the Memory of the World Committee in Belgium takes responsibility for the overall management and monitoring of the UNESCO Memory of the World programme. The committee has the following responsibilities:

  • to stimulate cooperation between the two Memory of the World committees in Belgium;
  • to draw up and maintain a national Memory of the World register in Belgium and to encourage applications from documentary heritage with a view to approving these applications;
  • to register and coordinate proposals for nominations from/or relating to Belgium for the Memory of the World Programme;
  • to work in close collaboration with governmental and non-governmental organisations in Belgium for the development of the national register and to contribute to the International and European Register;
  • to draw attention to and promote the Memory of the World Programme in Belgium;
  • to encourage cooperation between the public and private sectors with a view to carrying out the specific activities of the Memory of the World Programme in Belgium;
  • to work in close collaboration with the national commissions for UNESCO and the Regional Committee of the European Memory of the World Committee;
  • to keep in regular contact with the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris

National and international applications

  • Proposals for entry on the Memory of the World Register may be submitted by any physical person or legal entity, including governments and NGOs. However, priority will be granted to proposals made by the competent regional or national Memory of the World committee or through it, or failing this, through the two national commissions for UNESCO.
  • An international application may be directly submitted to the Be-MoW Committee. The experts of this Committee are at your disposal to help you build and draft your application, to facilitate international relations, etc. An international application is submitted for review by one of the two Committees (NL/FR&G) for their opinion.
  • The deadline for the submission of national and international applications to UNESCO is 31 March (even years).

Contact: Roger Roberts, Chairman of the Belgian Memory of the World Committee, roger.roberts904@gmail.com

Conservation of digital heritage (PERSIST: Platform to Enhance the Sustainability of the Information Society Transglobally)

Digital heritage is of major importance to humanity. Today it is an essential source of knowledge and for sharing this knowledge. Although sustainable conservation of the abundance of digital information that exists in our developed societies is a challenge, archives, museums, libraries and other cultural heritage institutions are also concerned by this issue. The PERSIST project (Platform to Enhance the Sustainability of the Information Society Transglobally) stimulates debate between these institutions, authorities and ICT industries, while ensuring the preservation of and access to digital information in the long term.

Open Access

UNESCO, committed to the open exchange of ideas and knowledge, aims to promote Open Access, or access to openly available scientific information, as far as possible. Universal access to information has also always been an essential condition for sustainable development and peace.

As a United Nations organisation with science, among other fields, as its remit, UNESCO defends the interests of scientists in the least developed countries. Although Open Access in particular is a means of accessing new developments, the importance of sharing knowledge is also in everyone’s interest. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that: “everyone has the right to share in scientific advancement and its benefits” (article 27).