ICA: 75 years of international influence

ICA in the XXth century

1931 - Under the aegis of the League of Nations the Institute for Intellectual Co-operation creates a Permanent Consultative Committee on Archives.

1934 - The Committee publishes the first International Guide on Archives.

1948 - The International Council on Archives (ICA) is created on 9 June, now celebrated as International Archives Day, as UNESCO seeks to promote non-governmental organisations. Charles Samaran, Director-General of the Archives de France is the first Chairman. The Council immediately begins a lifelong process of co-operation with sister organisations such as IFLA, ICOM, and ICOMOS.

1950 - The ICA holds its first assembly and its first Congress and Archivum, the first official journal of the ICA, is born out of the proceedings of the Congress. Throughout the Cold War the ICA persists in opening access to archives to historians regardless of political boundaries, with the financial and intellectual support of UNESCO. This is achieved through the ICA promoting the sharing of microfilmed records with countries lacking such records and its publication of the 60-volume Guide to the Sources of the History of Nations between 1958 and 1984.

1960 - As independence replaces colonialism in many countries ICA delivers programmes to enable developing countries to develop their own archives along with creating relevant ICA branches. By the 1970s nearly all the developing countries have established archival services.

1968 - The first regional Branch is created in South East Asia (SARBICA) to enable countries sharing similar conditions to actively participate in ICA and collaborate with each other. By 2009 there are 13 branches covering the globe.

1970 - The Committee on Archival Development is formed. It operates the International Archival Development Fund (FIDA) which supports archives in developing countries.

1976 - The first two Sections (covering Professional Archivists' Associations and International Organisations) are established, enabling professionals sharing similar professional issues to come together. By 2009 there are 13 sections covering various aspects of professional knowledge.

1979 - With ICA's close co-operation UNESCO starts publishing RAMP (Records and Archives Management Programme) Studies which deal with basic professional issues, authored by experts and published in a range of languages.  Numerous studies go on to be published. They can be found here.

1993 - Sees the start of extensive co-operation between the ICA and the Council of Europe to promote the modernisation of archives in Europe. ICA also promotes the importance of the access of archives.

1994 - ICA publishes its first standard, the International Standard on Archival Description (ISAD(G)). This is rapidly adopted by archivists around the world and signals the start of the ICA producing a suite of standards for describing collections.

1995 - The Declaration of the ICA Executive Board at Guangzhou recommends a pragmatic approach in the settlement of archival claims arising from archives removed during war or colonialisation. The ICA, in co-operation with UNESCO, provides legal concepts and principles. UNESCO recommends the concept of shared heritage.

1996 - The ICA adopts its Code of Ethics for archive professionals across the world.

1996 - The First International Congress on Archives outside Europe and North America is held in Beijing. China assumes the presidency of ICA for four years at the end of the Congress.

1997 - The Council of Europe publishes the ICA's reference document to facilitate the settlement of archival claims arising from war, military occupancy and states succession to assist with competing claims over removed archival collections.


ICA in the XXIth century

2000 - The Council of Europe issues Recommendation no R13 creating a European Policy on Access to Archives as a result of intensive ICA lobbying.

2001 - The Council of Europe issues Recommendation no R15 on the teaching of history following on from its Access to Archives policy.

2003 - Archibishop Desmond Tutu delivers the keynote address at the CITRA conference in Capetown, South Africa.

2007 - The first version of the toolkit Record Keeping for Good Governance, developed by the Pacific branch (PARBICA) is launched at PARBICA 12 conference in Noumea, New Caledonia.

2008 - ICA celebrates its sixtieth birthday and holds its Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

2009 - ICA holds a meeting of its Programme Commission in Montevideo, Uruguay. This results in major decisions to fund and endorse a wide range of projects throughout the world that will contribute to the achievement of ICA's strategic objectives.

2009 - ICA supports the first meeting of WARBICA, west African branch of the organization, in Africa (Dakar, Senegal) since the branch was created in 1977. Malta, smallest country of the European Union, hosts the International Conference of the Round table on Archives.

2010 - ICA reactivates the FIDA (International Fund for Archival Development) by naming a board of trustees, and launching a call for projects. South Korea hosts the ICA Executive Board meeting in the framework of the first International Archives and Culture Exhibition (IACE 2010, Seoul, South Korea, June 2010). At its General Annual Meeting, ICA approves the Universal Declaration on Archives.

2011- On the 10th of November, the UNESCO General Conference in its plenary session adopts the Universal Declaration on Archives.

2012 - Annual General Meeting at the time of the International Congress in Brisbane, Australia. Members adopt a new constitution which: extends voting rights to category C (institutional) members; changes AGM to General Assembly; obolishes CITRA in favour of Annual Conference open to all members; establishes Forum of National Archivists (FAN). The AGM also approved the Principles of Access to Archives, recognising the distinction between legal authority for access and the publication of finding aids.

2013 - First Annual Conference, organised on a self-financing basis, held in Brussels with over 500 participants.

2014: first New Professional bursary scheme as part of the NP Programme

2015: Africa Programme approved

2017: Training Programme established

2018: Celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the ICA (logo hereunder)