ICA Reference Documents

ICA is the voice of archives on the world stage. Its actions are based on several defining documents that explain the purpose of both the association and the archive and records management profession. 

We recommend that you read the internationally adopted Universal Declaration on Archives, which details the key role of archives and archivists in our societies, the Code of Ethics, which describes the principles underlying the work of all ICA members or the speech given at CITRA by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 2003. 

You can also find out more about how the ICA operates through documents such as the Constitution, the Internal Regulations or our latest Annual Reports. 

These documents, and many more, are available for consultation and may be downloaded from this website. 

Reference Documents 

Universal Declaration on Archives 

The Universal Declaration on Archives (UDA) was adopted by the 36th Session of the UNESCO General Conference on 10 November 2011. The Declaration is an important step in improving understanding and awareness of archives among the general public and key decision-makers. It is a powerful, succinct statement of the relevance of archives in modern society. 

The UDA has been translated into a large number of languages, which are available via this link 

ICA Code of Ethics 

The ICA General Assembly in Beijing, China, formally adopted the ICA Code of Ethics on 6 September 1996. This Code of Ethics is designed to inform new members of the profession about  the high standards of conduct demanded of the archival profession, remind experienced archivists of their professional responsibilities and inspire public confidence in the profession. 

The ICA Code is available in 24 languages, which are available via this link. 

Position Statements 

  • 2022 
  • 2020 
  • 2019 
  • 2018 


Major Speeches 

  • John Hocking’s keynote address at the ICA International Congress in Seoul, South Korea, 6 September 2016. 

His speech, titled “Out of the Box, Into the World”, was an inspiring address to the entire archival community and contained rich imagery and powerful examples. His call to action still resonates today: “The possibilities are endless when you bring the archives out of the box and into the world.” Click here to read it in English. 

  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s keynote address at the CITRA conference in Cape Town, South Africa, 21 October 2003. 

In his speech, Tutu drew primarily on the experiences of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and, to a lesser extent, those of the post-Second World War Nuremburg Nazi war criminal trials, in order to demonstrate that “records are crucial to hold us accountable”, and are “indispensable as deterrents against a repetition of this ghastliness and they are a powerful incentive for us to say, ‘Never again’. They are a potent bulwark against human rights violations. We must remember our past so that we do not repeat it.” Click here to read it in English. 

Governance Documents 

ICA Constitution and Internal Regulations 

In recognition of the main fundamental values of archives, the ICA Constitution sets out the key features of its operation and governance. 

You may consult the current ICA Constitution in English by following this link. To see the current version of the Internal Regulations (approved in 2021) in English, click here. 


ICA Planning Documents 

  • ICA Strategic Plan 2021-2024. The plan reflects the views and opinions shared during the campaign ICA by its members, for its members, and presents input from members in relation to all areas of the association. This plan was approved at the first virtual Annual General Assembly on 16 November 2020. 
  • PCOM Strategic Plan 2018-2020. The Programme Commission’s Strategic Plan was designed to indicate the general direction and expectations for the Commission as a whole, for its six areas of professional activity and, more broadly, for ICA’s programme-related activities over a three-year period. The plan was approved on 25 November 2017. 
  • ICA Strategic Implementation Plan, 2014-2018. The recommendations in this document were put to the Executive Board for final decision at its Girona meeting on 14 October 2014.  
  • ICA Strategic Direction 2008-2018. The purpose of this document was to provide a clear statement of why ICA had chosen its strategic direction and what it wished to achieve over the next ten years. This document was presented at the ICA Annual General Meeting on 25-26 July 2008 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 


ICA Annual Reports 


ICA’s mission and values with regard to relations with its members and with the Secretariat team 

This document lays out the organisation’s goals with respect to its membership and permanent staff. By committing to these goals, we hope to develop and strengthen our community by providing an open space that will facilitate the professional development of our members and enable us to successfully pursue our missions. This document was endorsed at the ICA Executive Board on 24 May 2022. It is available in English and French.