At its meeting of 19th August 2011, the IFLA Governing Board set up an Advisory Group to draft Principles of Engagement to be used by IFLA and its members in library-related activities of disaster risk reduction and in times of conflict, crisis or natural disaster; with reference to IFLA’s engagement in the Haiti reconstruction activities and international treaties and agreements to which IFLA is a party. The Principles are part of IFLA’s Strategic Direction 2016-2021 on Cultural Heritage: Cultural Heritage Disaster Reconstruction Programme – Culture is a basic need, a community thrives through its cultural heritage, it dies without it.

The recent turmoil in Syria and Mali, the earthquake in Haiti or the earthquake followed by a tsunami in Japan, IFLA is deeply concerned by the great loss of cultural heritage in recent years due to armed conflicts, crises and natural disasters. The principles aim to encourage safeguarding and respect for cultural property especially by raising awareness and promoting disaster risk management and to strengthen cooperation and participation in cultural heritage activities through UNESCO, the libraries, archives, museums, heritage buildings and sites group and the International Committee of the Blue Shield initiatives and activities.

The principles of engagement advise IFLA and its members on how to monitor areas at risk, advocate for and raise awareness about disaster prevention. In the event of disaster, the Principles of Engagement will guide activities in recovery situations and advise IFLA and its members if and how to engage in a particular recovery situation within IFLA’s strategic directions. They establish criteria to guide decisions on whether IFLA and its members would become engaged in post-conflict/disaster recovery and the terms under which it would do so. The Principles outline the conditions of an intervention by IFLA, its guiding principles, the levels of involvement, and methods for the needs assessment and evaluation.

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