Iberarchivos Programme for the Development of Ibero-American Archives

Cristina Díaz Martínez

Head, International Cooperation Service, State Archives


Subdireccion General de los Archivos Estatales Plaza del Rey, 1. Planta 0. 28004 Madrid SPAI


Madrid , Spain
UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize 2016


Contribution to the Preservation and Accessibility of Documentary Heritage




Iberarchivos: History And Purpose

Iberarchivos-ADAI Programme is an Intergovernmental Programme of archival cooperation established in 1999.
It originated in the Ibero-American Summits of Heads of State and Governments annual meetings attended by the most senior government officials from Latin America, Portugal and Spain to coordinate and support actions of mutual interest. The creation of an Ibero- American network for the preservation and dissemination of, and access to the rich documentary heritage of the region was proposed by Spain in the 7th Ibero-American Summit on Margarita Island (Venezuela), and was immediately supported by several states. It was approved in the 8th Ibero American Summit of Heads of State and Government, celebrated in Oporto (Portugal) in 1998.


Iberarchivos is a cooperative program in which the archive authorities (generally the National Archives) of member countries are represented in an Intergovernmental Committee. Throughout its history, the following countries have been active members of the Intergovernmental Committee: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama;, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay.

Impact of the Iberarchivos's contribution to the preservation and accessibility of documentary heritage
The main goal of Iberarchivos-Programa ADAI is to provide access to Archives as fundamental sources for the understanding of the shared memory of Ibero American people, but also as essential tools for Democracy, access to public information, administrative transparency, good governance and accountability of institutions. It focuses in the development of activities for the preservation, arrangement, description and dissemination of archival funds and collections kept in archives and other custodian institutions, covering all periods and all kind of materials, from traditional textual records to electronic records, photography, video recordings and oral history repositories. Other actions are aimed at technical training for professionals by funding curses, workshops and seminars. These actions are mainly implemented by means of small grants (10.000 euro max) for funding archival projects, addressed to all kind of institutions, public or private.

The impact of the Programme and the 1.250 projects it carried out between 1999 and 2016 is undeniable because of the many results applied in archiving practice in Ibero-America.

The projects are organized into four main areas:

Preservation, conservation and restoration plan development.
Development of plans to facilitate access and dissemination.
Training and technical assistance.
Integral archive management projects.

Although the areas of activity described above are permanent in time, each call for projects has its own specific objectives which are determined, to a great extent, by the decisions taken at the Ibero-American Summits of Heads of State and Governments. These projects have specific themed scopes that deal equally with archive preservation and fostering citizen access to documents, prioritizing disadvantaged groups or those with greater need for protection in the exercise of civil rights:

Projects on the indigenous and Afro American world and the study of gender-based questions.
Projects on archives and human rights.
Project on Ibero-American migratory movements for economic reasons or because of exile.
Projects on the independence processes of Latin American Republics.


Difficulties Encountered In Undertaking Preservation And Access Work Of Documentary Heritage

/The richness of the Ibero American documentary heritage is challenged by the serious risks it has to face. The region is threatened by natural disasters due to its high seismic activity and aggressive climatological conditions. However, inadequate buildings, untrained staffs and insufficient resources are the most frequent cause of damage. The lack of human and material resources is a common problem that makes the documentary heritage highly vulnerable. Many of the countries participating in the Programme are low-income and middle-income countries, with limited budgets allocated to cultural and archival issues. In such countries the lack of resources affects even the main archival institutions as the National Archives, which have serious difficulties to carry out basic preservation and access activities. The situation becomes even more dramatic in the case of archives belonging to smaller institutions, unable to provide basic care, housing and protection to their holdings or to make them fully available. The financial support provided by Iberarchivos is the primary source of funding for actions designed to preserve archives in this region.
Iberarchivos involves a significant collective effort from all national Ibero American archive authorities to preserve documentary heritage and to give citizens better access to archives. In addition, Iberarchivos has become an active and efficient framework for archival cooperation among the Ibero-American countries, as it enables the exchange of best practices and solutions to common problems.

After 19 years of existence, it is considered a prestigious, solid and continuous programme, with an undeniable impact in Ibero-America.


The 2016 Unesco/Jikji Memory Of The World Prize Experience

At the beginning of 2015, the Technical Unit proposed to the Iberarchivos Intergovernmental Committee to present a nomination for the UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize, being aware of the significant contribution of this Program to the preservation and accessibility of common documentary heritage in 23 countries in Europe (Spain and Portugal) and Latin America. In fact, this Programme is the unique worldwide example of association of several countries in order to preserve and make accessible the documentary heritage.

All the directors of the Ibero-american National Archives represented in the Intergovernmental Committee took this proposal further, coming up with the idea to gain support from the National Commissions for UNESCO. I remember that this process was stressful and very hard due to the short time that we had until the submission deadline. We finally obtained the support of eleven UNESCO National Commissions for this common nomination: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay.

The process led to the award of the 6th UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize to the Iberarchivos-ADAI Programme at a ceremony in the city of Cheongju in the Republic of Korea on the 1st September 2016.

This prize recognized the outstanding contribution of Iberarchivos to documentary heritage preservation, which was rewarded with the US$30,000 Prize on the recommendation of the Bureau of the Memory of the World Programme's International Advisory Committee.

The amount will be use to support new projects in the next meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee in Meacute;xico City in November 2017. In other words, it will be reinvested in new actions to preserve, disseminate and promote access to the documentary heritage in Ibero-American archives.


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