Magna Carta and Anne Frank diaries among items joining UNESCO register

Anne Frank's first diary

30 July 2009 – The diaries of Holocaust victim Anne Frank, the Magna Carta and the royal archives of Madagascar and Thailand are among 35 items of documentary heritage that are being added to a United Nations register designed to preserve them for future generations.

Koïchiro Matsuura, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, announced today that these items will be inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register after they were recommended by a panel of international experts who have gathered in Barbados this week.

There are now 193 inscriptions on the register, which began in 1997 and aims to preserve and promote documentary heritage that is considered to be of global significance and often endangered.

The newly inscribed items include the Magna Carta, the English legal charter from 1215 that is considered highly influential to the development of liberty, law and democracy worldwide, and the diaries of Anne Frank, the Jewish schoolgirl whose account of her family’s daily life in hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam before she was killed is now one of the world’s most read books.

This year’s additions also include the royal archives of Thailand and Madagascar; the so-called Archives of Terror from Paraguay, which document police repression during 35 years of dictatorship that ended in 1989; the archives of the League of Nations, the forerunner of the UN; and the archives of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Cambodia, which contain photographs and other documents showing the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s.

Another archive joining the list is that of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which began operations in 1949.

One of the newest items to be inscribed is the collection of documents recording the 600-kilometre-long peaceful human chain that formed in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1989 to press the case for freedom in those Baltic countries, which were then part of the Soviet Union.

Other additions include more than 34,000 Vietnamese woodblocks depicting the official literature and history of the country; the collected works of Canadian animator Norman McLaren; Song of the Nibelungs, the heroic poem from mediaeval Germany; a registry of slaves of the British Caribbean from the early 19th century; and an encyclopaedia of medical knowledge and treatment techniques compiled in Korea in 1613.

The other items to be inscribed either come from or relate to the following countries and territories: Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Cuba, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherland Antilles, Poland, Russia, Saint Lucia, Spain, Ukraine and the United States.

Mr. Matsuura also announced that this year’s UNESCO/Jikji Prize has been awarded to the National Archives of Malaysia in recognition of its outreach, educational and regional training programmes on preservation.


News Tracker: past stories on this issue

UNESCO adds 38 items to global register of documentary heritage

Related Stories





In-depth Interviews