Save the Date for the ICA Abu Dhabi Congress and let’s Start Talking about Empowering Knowledge Societies!

The call for proposals and papers for the ICA Abu Dhabi Congress was an invitation to the archival and records communities as well as to our colleagues from allied and other professions to be part of a conversation around three main themes: Artificial Intelligence, Digital Preservation and Emerging Technologies; Sustainable Knowledge; Trust and Evidence.  

These three themes were expanded into 13 streams to reflect the variety of topics and debates contained in the more than 200 accepted proposals that will be integrated into the Congress programme. 

We invite you to read the description of these streams (in Arabic at the bottom of this page), sketched out by members of the ICA Expert Groups, the ICA Abu Dhabi 2020 Congress Programme Committee and partner organizations, to provide a high-level first look at the Congress professional programme. 

The ICA Abu Dhabi Congress will be hosted between 19-22 October 2021 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC)

1. Shared Archival Heritage (EGSAH)  

The stream focuses on the successes, failures and solutions adopted for archival collections which pertain to the history and culture of more than one community, country or region, especially in cases where more than one stakeholder has an interest in the preservation and access to the particular archival collections. 

2. United against Thefts and Trafficking (EGATTT

Sooner or later all institutions are confronted with the problem of missing documents. Sometimes the documents may have simply been wrongly stored. Sadly, others may have been stolen. In the worst cases, the documents may have fallen into the hands of international traffickers. The Expert Group against Theft, Trafficking and Tampering (EGATTT) will be addressing different facets of the efforts now being mounted to halt such practices by presenting examples submitted by different institutions and through initiatives taken by the international community. 

3. Legal and Ethical Issues (EGLM)  

A varied programme of contemporary legal and ethical issues for the profession, from legal frameworks and records management to end-user access with prominent place reserved for the challenges posed by the right to be forgotten and the duty to remember and guard against misinformation.  Includes updates on two major ICA initiatives: the explanatory comments now accompanying the Guiding Principles on Safe Havens for Archives at Risk launched in Seoul in 2016 and a draft Copyright Declaration called for at the Mexico Conference the following year. 

4. Access, Innovation and Outreach (EGRSO

If we were to redesign services so that everyone can engage with archives, how would they look? Why do so few people use our collections? What barriers do they face? How can we change to meet their needs? This stream will challenge us to think afresh about the challenges of opening up archives for everyone. 

5. Revitalising and Empowering Indigenous Knowledge in the Archives (EGIM

This stream explores various aspects around the revitalisation of Indigenous presence in the archives and the empowerment of Indigenous groups in this space within various national and community contexts. It explores the importance of new technologies for preserving Indigenous knowledge through information technology, the role of cultural institutions in preserving Indigenous identity, approaches to decolonization, and the importance of considering alternative frameworks for acquisition, preservation and accessibility. 

6. Metadata and description (Congress Programme Committee) 

Description, putting ‘Records in Context,’ using controlled vocabularies, creating the best metadata to manage and give access to records and archives are at the heart of the work we do. This stream will explore more deeply the ICA RiC standard as well as experiments taking place in many of our member organisations. 

7. Changes facing the profession (Congress Programme Committee) 

Our professional world is changing faster than ever. Lately truth has taken on a new meaning, a pandemic has changed the way we live, climate change is having a profound impact on our societies, it seems we will forever be digitally transforming, and we have to adapt and be properly trained. We will talk about the many facets of the changes happening in our profession. 

8. Artificial Intelligence…Archives Intelligence (Congress Programme Committee) 

Artificial Intelligence is transforming society.  This stream will provide insight and practical applications as archives explore the potential of adapting AI solutions to the challenges of a knowledge society. 

9. Preservation of Digital Records (Congress Programme Committee) 

All forms of communication; all recordkeeping; and eventually, all recorded knowledge will be in digital form. This stream will offer practical experience in addressing the issues posed by digital preservation. 

10. A collaborative approach for an archival system renewal. The French example (NA France) 

In recent years, France has changed into approach to public digital archive management. All the different protagonists (archives, digitisation departments, etc.) have been involved in this development and together have come up with a proposal for a copyright-free, reusable, electronic archiving software development model, which has since been installed in the departments of the French National Archives and widely extended to private partner and local archives. The result is a whole new vision and new processes based on new technologies and new working methods conducive to improvement in both the management and the curation of public digital archives. The time has now come to move this development on to a higher plane! 

11. Blockchain and information governance (Congress Programme Committee) 

Sound information governance is a key asset in all records and archives systems. Our stream will explore examples of sound information governance as well as blockchains as guarantees of information authenticity and integrity. 

12. Sustainable records and archives (Congress Programme Committee) 

From the importance of records and archives in democratic societies to the challenges faced by institutions working on their policies, processes and systems, aimed at a sustainable Records and Archive, connected to and representative of its environment are key to the future of all Archives. 

13. Forum of National Archivists members presentations (open to all attendees) (FAN)  

Senior leaders and executives from national archives will discuss a broad range of topics of relevance to our professional communities, including those of developing digitisation programmes, artificial intelligence and digital innovations, resilient records management solutions, shared archival heritage and memory, collaborating on a global scale, and more. Please join the Forum of National Archivists for a host of interactive panels and presentations. 


We expect that, in April, once a decision has been made about the Congress format, we will be able to share more details with you about this event and its programme. So stay in touch through the ICA website, our newsletter and the ICA social media channels (TwitterFacebook).