UNESCO begins review of memory listing procedures

UNESCO begins review of memory listing procedures
UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova.
PHOTO: AFP

PARIS - UNESCO has started reviewing selection procedures for the Memory of the World listings, with an eye to introducing a new system that will oblige relevant countries to hold talks prior to applications, sources said.

The revision is being examined for possible cases in which recommended documents involve more than one country. If the UNESCO executive board approves the new system at its meeting next spring, it will possibly be adopted for Memory of the World selections in 2017.

UNESCO added China's recommended "Documents of Nanjing Massacre" to the memory list last month despite the Japanese government's concerns. The government criticised the decision by arguing that UNESCO should be neutral and fair in handling such issues.

Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Hiroshi Hase will urge the selection system to be improved at UNESCO's General Conference, which opens Tuesday.

The system review was launched after the Japanese government lodged a complaint over the matter.

According to sources, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova ordered the UN organisation to draw up reform plans to establish a transparent selection system for the Memory of the World list.

The registration systems for UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage and World Natural Heritage lists allow countries concerned to participate in UNESCO discussions over whether a relevant application should be approved.

There are no review systems in place for Memory of the World listings. Screenings at the organisation's International Advisory Committee are not made public, which has drawn criticism for its "opaque procedures."

Even if the UNESCO board approves the selection system revision, China and South Korea might be reluctant to hold prior discussions with Japan over the registration of materials related to so-called comfort women - which they hope to add to the memory list in 2017.Speech

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