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MOWCAP(Asia/Pacific Regional Committee for the Memory of the World)

The Asia/Pacific Regional Committee for the Memory of the World Program (MOWCAP) is a subsidiary of the International Advisory Committee (IAC) of the Memory of the World (MOW) Program. The Program was launched by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1992. MOWCAP was set up in 1998 during its First MOWCAP General Meeting held in Beijing, China. MOWCAP embraces the Asia Pacific region of 43 countries – one of five UNESCO regions across the globe.

Wide political, linguistic and cultural diversity, and great economic disparity. Most countries are part of the third world. The world’s largest and smallest countries – China has a population of 1.3 billion and Niue, 2000. The tyranny of distance – much of the region is ocean, and many countries are islands making communication and travel costly. Cultures of great richness and antiquity, but many nation states are relatively young in their present form. A general history of colonization creates issues in the repatriation of documentary heritage. Archives, libraries and museums often lack adequate funds, infrastructure and skills. MOWCAP is a cooperative structure through which people in the region can be brought together to pursue the objectives of the MOW Program.

MOWCAP’s Objectives

MOWCAP’s objectives are to promote, facilitate and monitor the MOW Program within the region, and to represent the region at the international level. Among other things, MOWCAP supports and facilitates nominations and encourages adequate representation of the region’s documentary heritage in the International MOW Register. It also supports and complements the work of the National MOW Committees. It seeks to raise awareness of the Program and of the documentary heritage in the Asia-Pacific region.

MOWCAP’s Functions
  • Increase awareness of the importance of documentary heritage, improves its accessibility and use

  • Promote resource sharing and optimal use of resources in the region

  • Mobilize political, social and economic support for the MOW Asia/Pacific Program

  • Encourage cross-country linkages of valuable collections of multi-country/cultural significance

  • Encourage the establishment of National MOW Committees

  • Maintain the Asia/Pacific Regional Register of MOW documentary heritage

  • Discuss the selection criteria and any other matters determined by the International Advisory Committee and make recommendations

  • Mobilize resources and supports for MOW projects/activities

  • Through the leadership of its Bureau, MOWCAP organizes events and meetings on a regular basis.

MOWCAP also maintains an Asia/Pacific Regional Register of the MOW documentary heritage, a listing of documentary heritage of influence in the Asia/Pacific region. MOWCAP is the authority that approves inscriptions on the Asia/Pacific MOW Register. It assesses nominations from members through its Asia/Pacific Register Subcommittee against established selection criteria.

Normally, inscriptions on the Asia/Pacific Register are made every two years.


The Asia-Pacific region is home to rich and diverse documentary heritage reflecting the cultures, histories, traditions and values of its nations. The heritage takes many various forms – from manuscripts and woodblocks, to photographs, stone inscriptions, sound recordings and films. This online archive celebrates the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific (MOWCAP), highlighting the documentary heritage from the Asia-Pacific region on the International and Regional Memory of the World Registers.


UNESCO’s MOW Program is an international cooperation strategy aimed at safeguarding, protecting and facilitating access to and the use of documentary heritage, especially heritage that is rare and endangered. UNESCO launched the Program in 1992 to guard against collective amnesia by calling upon the preservation of invaluable archive holdings and library collections all over the world and ensuring their wide dissemination.

The MOW Program recognizes documentary heritage of international, regional and national significance, maintains registers of it, and awards a logo to identified collections. It facilitates preservation and access without discrimination. It campaigns to raise awareness of the documentary heritage to alert governments, the general public, business and commerce to preservation needs and to raise funds.

First Experts’ Meeting (12-14 December 1994, Kuala Lumpur)

The MOW Experts’ Meeting for the Asia Pacific region was convened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia under the auspices of UNESCO and the National Archives of Malaysia. It was attended by official delegates from 20 countries, 2 resource persons and 75 other participants as well as the UNESCO representative.

The meeting adopted a number of recommendations, urging all member countries in the region to establish national MOW committees, as well as setting up a MOW Regional Coordinating Committee. It recommended that necessary steps should be taken to seek appropriate representation of the Asia/Pacific Region in the International Advisory Committee. The Asia/Pacific Regional Committee was not established at that point.

First Special Experts Group Meeting (10-12 December 1997, Xiamen, China)

This meeting brought together 9 experts from 6 countries plus 7 observers from institutions within China, and a UNESCO representative. Among the recommendations adopted was a detailed action plan, including the establishment of a Regional Committee in the Asia/Pacific region.

First MOWCAP General Meeting (17-21 November 1998, Beijing, China)

This meeting formally established the Regional Committee. It elected a Bureau, adopted objectives and terms of reference, and prepared a work plan. The Bureau was charged with the task of drafting a set of by-laws for the Committee.

It was further agreed that the initial Bureau’s terms of office would be 3 years (until 2001) and thereafter the Bureau would be elected for 4 years (to mirror the International Advisory Committee IAC). The full Committee would meet every two years and the Bureau annually.


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