Archives constitute the memory of nations and societies, shape their identity, and are a cornerstone of the information society. By providing evidence of actions and transactions, archives support administration and underlie the rights of individuals, organisations and states. By guaranteeing citizens' rights of access to official information and to knowledge of their history, archives are fundamental to identity, democracy, accountability and good governance.
In recognition of these fundamental values of archives, the International Council on Archives (ICA) is dedicated to promote the efficient and effective management and use of records, archives and data in all formats and its preservation as the cultural and evidentiary heritage of humanity, through international cooperation, by the sharing of professional experiences, research and ideas on the management and organisation of archives and archival institutions.
The ICA is a neutral, non-governmental organisation, funded by its membership, which operates through the activities of that diverse membership. For over seventy years ICA has united archival institutions and practitioners across the globe to advocate for good archival management and the physical protection of recorded heritage, to produce reputable standards and best practices, and to encourage dialogue, exchange, and transmission of this knowledge and expertise across national borders. With more than 2000 members in 161 countries and territories the Council's ethos is to harness the cultural diversity of its membership to deliver effective solutions and a flexible, imaginative profession.
The ICA is a truly international organisation which works with decision-makers at the highest level. As well as working closely with intergovernmental bodies such as UNESCO and the Council of Europe, the ICA has close connections with other non-governmental organisations such as the International Committee of the Blue Shield.
Archives are an incredible resource. They are the documentary by-product of human activity and as such are an irreplaceable witness to past events, underpinning democracy, the identity of individuals and communities, and human rights. But they are also fragile and vulnerable. The ICA strives to protect and ensure access to archives through advocacy, setting standards, professional development, and enabling dialogue between archivists, policy makers, creators and users of archives.
ICA promotes the central role of record-keeping and archives in protecting the rights of individuals and states, and in supporting democracy and good governance, through working for the effective management of archives from the moment of their creation, the permanent preservation of archives as the documented memory of nations and societies, and the widest possible public access to that memory. It strives to build a better understanding across societies through fostering international co-operation, while respecting linguistic and cultural diversity.
ICA advocates the importance of archives and records management to policy makers, while providing opportunities for professional contact, information exchanges, research and education, and while taking a leadership role in developing best practices and standards which support records and archives professionals throughout the world. It is a central source of information on archives and the archival professional for society.
The aim of the ICA is to promote the management and use of records and archives, and the preservation of the archival heritage of humanity around the world, through the sharing of experiences, research and ideas on professional archival and records management matters, and on the management and organisation of archival institutions.
Who can join ICA and how?
Membership of ICA is open to any individual or organisation concerned with the professional care of and access to archive collections.
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What is ICA for its members?
The ICA works to encourage and inspire, worldwide, the work of archival institutions, professional bodies and organisations, public and private, concerned with the administration or preservation of archives, records and data, or with professional training.
To know more about the mission and values of the ICA concerning its relation with its members and members of the Secretariat, we invite you to read the following statement.