CITRA, or the International Conference of the Round Table on Archives, is nearly as old as the International Council on Archives. At the beginning of the 1950s, around 40 archivists representing their respective countries, met around a round table to discuss common strategic issues. Warmly welcomed at the invitation of numerous countries around the world, CITRA initially expanded to include the presidents of professional associations, then the presidents of sections and committees. Despite not having such an important audience as that of the international congress, CITRA has always been home to intense intellectual and scientific debates. The chosen themes generally follow a three year cycle, sandwiched between the international congress which takes place every four years. For example the theme of the 1997 to 1999 cycle was devoted to access to information whilst through 2001 to 2003 participants discussed the relationship of archivists with society. One of the high points of this cycle was the conference in Cape Town in 2003, dedicated to the question of archives and human rights, where the inaugural speech was given by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Another example is the 2006 conference which met in a land of cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity, Curaçao. The conference addressed the issue of shared memory. The proceedings of these conferences have been published, so far up until 2007, in various organs, including the scientific journals of the ICA (particularly Janus and COMMA).
How does CITRA work?
The conferences are organised by a Bureau led by the Vice-President for CITRA and supported by one of the ICA's Deputy General Secretaries. The Bureau members are elected and represent the various regions of the world and thus the different professional cultures. The three countries which have agreed to host the conference during a given cycle also have a representative at the Bureau meetings. Working with the Deputy Secretary General responsible for CITRA, the Vice-President CITRA assists the host in implementing the programme and in organising the conference. According to custom, CITRA participants attended by invitation until this year when the Spanish hosts (the Subdirección General de los Archivos Estatales of the Ministry of Culture of Spain), with the approval of the CITRA Bureau) decided to have an open CITRA in anticipation of impending changes to the ICA Constitution and way of organising the Annual Meeting..
CITRA is a professional conference but the main governance meetings of the ICA, such as the Executive Committee or the Programme Commission, as well as the Annual General Meeting, the organisation's ultimate decision-making body, are usually held in the same week. CITRA therefore offers a great annual meeting of archivists from around the world, which lasts nearly a week, as well as an excellent opportunity for the host country to promote archives at a national level.