At its council meeting in 1947, IFLA formally agreed to launch a partnership with the newly formed United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). This set the stage for decades of cooperation on our closely aligned objectives of improving outcomes for all through access to information, knowledge, culture, and learning.

At the 87th World Library and Information Congress (WLIC), held in Dublin, Ireland from 26-29 July 2022, UNESCO and IFLA came together to celebrate our long-standing partnership and look ahead to future collaboration. In this spirit, IFLA also used this occasion to highlight UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme’s 30th Anniversary, which will be celebrated later this year.

In the face of ever-evolving challenges to freedom of expression, cultural diversity, and the free flow of ideas, it is more important than ever to cooperate at all levels to uphold these core conditions of democracy and development.

Celebrating and Looking Ahead

 IFLA was excited to welcome representatives from UNESCO’s Communications and Information (CI) Sector at WLIC 2022. These representatives joined nearly 2,000 library and information professionals from over 100 countries in Dublin, Ireland to take part in a vibrant conference programme that explores topics across the library and information profession.

This programme included a special session titled, “A Laboratory of Ideas: 75 Years of Partnership with UNESCO”. This session reflected on the past 75 years of partnership, encouraged library professionals to find out more about UNESCO’s work, and reflect on ways to get more involved at the national, regional, and international levels.

IFLA was delighted to open this session with a video address by the Assistant Director-General for Communications and Information, Tawfik Jelassi. He called on the global library field to work with UNESCO, and he affirmed that UNESCO is counting on the contribution of libraries to help it achieve its objectives.

IFLA’s President, Barbara Lison, welcomed the invitation to continue and deepen IFLA’s partnership with the CI Sector. She encouraged library professionals to reflect on the call made by the Assistant Director-General. This included his call to the global library field to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Memory of the World Programme later this year.

“In 5 years, IFLA will be 100 years old, and our partnership with UNESCO will be 80 years old. Let us come together at that time and reflect on, and celebrate, the progress we have made on turning this call into actions.” – Barbara Lison, IFLA President

Xianhong Hu, Communication and Information Programme specialist and representative of the UNESCO Information For All Programme (IFAP) Secretariat and Lothar Jordan, Chair, Sub-Committee on Education and Research (SCEaR) and member of the International Advisory Committee of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme, joined the panel to give information on their programmes and share ideas for library professionals to become involved in their work.

Through a dialogue with moderator, Winston Roberts, Chair of IFLA’s Regional Division Committee for Asia-Oceania, speakers shared priorities and discussed ways in which library professionals can engage.

This session increased mutual understanding of shared priorities and helped illuminate pathways towards encouraging greater engagement between UNESCO and library professionals at all levels.

UNESCO’s Mission

“Since wars begin in the minds of men [and women], it is in the minds of men [and women] that the defences of peace must be constructed” – UNESCO Constitution

UNESCO offers a forum through which international policy and standards are adopted, tools are developed, and dialogue across countries and cultures is sustained. They build peace in the minds of all people through international cooperation in education, science, culture, and access to information and knowledge.

Find out more about UNESCO and the history of IFLA and UNESCO’s partnership here: UNESCO and IFLA: Celebrating 75 Years of Partnership.

This mission is closely aligned with the mission of IFLA, and we look forward to continuing to expand our long-standing partnership into the future.

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