three-year period that has recently drawn to a close will
stand out as an important chapter in the history of ICOM.
Without going into detail, I would like to describe the
major events that marked this three-year period.
First of all, I would like to start with internal achievements
by mentioning the excellent ideas put forward by a working
group that has turned out to be a dynamic, efficient and
imaginative think-tank, as well as the growing number of
members and the wide diversity of their geographical backgrounds.
One of the highlights of this triennial period was the action
taken to adapt our Code of Professional Ethics. This
Code serves as the foundation for a strategy to fight
against the illicit traffic of cultural property, a pressing
duty that has won a few victories in this daily, and often
difficult, struggle. The place ICOM has acquired alongside
important partners, such as UNESCO, INTERPOL, the World
Customs Organisation and many other institutions, as well
as the media, reflects the spreading influence of our organisation.
However, the alliances of ICOM are not limited to this area
alone. Within the framework of the Blue Shield programme,
there are also the invaluable partnerships with sister NGOs,
such as the one with ICCROM. A great source of satisfaction
is the outcome of the major efforts undertaken by ICOM that
led to the setting up of AFRICOM, with which close links
have been forged.
A pool of expertise provided by the committees, an efficient
and motivated secretariat, and an unfailing determination
have made it possible to pursue a policy that is sometimes
ambitious and difficult but always creative and inspiring.
These are the principal features that have punctuated this
last triennial period.
world is changing and evolving, and ICOM is obliged to keep
up with these developments and the many challenges faced
by museums and museum professionals. This is why it was
necessary to initiate a process of reform, to restructure
its mode of functioning, and to review its missions. The
creation of the reform group, ICOM-RTF, is the most tangible
result. This group, chaired by Bernice Murphy, Vice President
of ICOM, has submitted to members a report recommending
modifications to the structure of ICOM with a view to making
the organisation more flexible and capable of responding
to the new order reigning in the world of museums.
debate on the future of the organisation as a whole has
focused on its administrative and executive organs, Committees
and General Secretariat. This renewal is a gradual process
but it has set in motion a dynamic current that has had
a very positive effect on the organisation, in keeping with
the wishes expressed by members at the General Assembly
held in Melbourne in 1998.
the same time, ICOM has responded to a major preoccupation
of its members: professional ethics. A first revised version
of the Code of Professional Ethics was presented
to members of ICOM in June 1999. This revision is still
in progress, and a second version of the Code will be submitted
to members of the General Assembly in Barcelona in July
2001. The composition of the Professional Ethics Committee,
chaired by Geoffrey Lewis (United Kingdom), has been renewed
up to 2003. During an Extraordinary Meeting held in December
2000, members of the Advisory Committee made it clear that
the Code of Ethics should be entirely re-written
during the three-year period 2001-2004. The Executive Council
has already shown itself to be very much in favour of this
initiative. The museum community is going through such profound
changes that it is imperative to adapt a tool such as the
Code of Ethics to current developments among museums
and their experts. The project is bound to strengthen the
recognised authority of ICOM in this field.
In this respect, ICOM has stood out in its efforts to curb
the illicit traffic of cultural property. The organisation
has produced a Red List of the African archaeological
objects that are the most threatened by looting. The positive
reaction to this list demonstrates the need to resort to
practical communication tools to combat looting. In the
same spirit, we have continued the series "One Hundred Missing
Objects" on the problem of looting, and have published a
fourth volume on religious objects plundered in four countries:
the Czech Republic, France, Hungary and Italy.
In addition, two important workshops for museum experts,
law enforcement officers and customs officials were organised
in Tunisia and Vietnam. It will be recalled that ICOM signed
two agreements: one with the World Customs Organisation
and another with INTERPOL.
Intensive Communications Strategy
organisation also launched new activities during the last
three years, especially in the area of communications and
contacts between our NGO and members have been maintained
through ICOM News. This newsletter is published in
English, French and Spanish, and informs members regularly
of the activities carried out by the organisation and its
partners. Other information means have also emerged. Internet
has now become an indispensable communication tool for international
organisations. Being fully aware of this trend, ICOM has
given priority to opening the doors of Internet to its members
and partners by recruiting a person to be in charge of Internet
at the Secretariat.
An opportunity was offered to ICOM to create a new domain
name on Internet for museums: ".museum". This domain name
was approved by ICANN, the body responsible for authorising
the creation of new domain names. This first victory is
not due to mere chance. ICOM had prepared for it well ahead
of time and was able to submit its candidacy in partnership
with the J. Paul Getty Trust (United States). However, the
initiative has still to be finalised. ICANN postponed its
decision at the time of writing this report, so it is not
yet possible for museums to use the new domain name ".museum".
Despite this setback, the remarkable preparatory work carried
out by Cary Karp (Sweden) should be applauded.
is impossible not to mention also the important work undertaken
within our organisation on museums and tourism, a crucial
question that was the topic of an interesting conference
on "Museums, Heritage and Cultural Tourism", held from 21
to 27 May 2000 in Trujillo (Peru) and La Paz (Bolivia).
activities of the International Committees that have enabled
ICOM to assume its role as a leader in different areas should
be stressed. The Triennial Conference of the Conservation
Committee is a major event for conservation and restoration
experts. The session held in Lyons in 1999 is but one example
among many others. As for the National Committees, they
have played an active role in ICOM. In addition to recruiting
new members, they have organised a certain number of activities
that were of great benefit to the organisation.
If ICOM has been in a position to develop and broaden its
field of action, it is thanks to its members. The membership
of ICOM has grown, and now exceeds 16,445 active members,
compared to 14,065 in 1998. Even though this expansion has
obviously increased the workload of the Membership Service
of the Secretariat, the team has met the challenge successfully.
the same time, ICOM has remained stable and continues to
carry out a certain number of regular tasks. The financial
situation is positive, showing a clear surplus at the end
of every year thanks to the prudent and wise management
of Piet Pouw, the Treasurer of ICOM, assisted by the Secretary
General. Considerable funds have been raised to enable ICOM
to organise many of its activities.
In addition to the inputs of its members, ICOM benefits
from the valuable contributions of its partner organisations.
It has endeavoured to strengthen these ties, some of which
were forged a long time ago.
Many of ICOM's partners have, in fact, added to the efficiency
of the organisation. The fruitful relations between ICOM
and UNESCO have led to a renewal of the framework-agreement
for the next two years. Manus Brinkman and I have met the
new Director General of UNESCO. Many activities are now
being planned. ICCROM will also be one of the sister organisations,
and its collaboration with ICOM will be reinforced through
several co-operative projects, in particular the Risk
Preparedness project, aimed primarily at the upstream
protection of cultural heritage.
partner organisations of the International Committee of
the Blue Shield share some of the daily tasks of ICOM. Activities
linked to the Blue Shield programme are being developed
and will be further strengthened. To achieve this, ICOM
has requested and encouraged its National Committees to
set up Liaison Committees with the Blue Shield. The National
Committees of Belgium, France and the Netherlands are among
those that have reacted positively to this appeal.
Many institutions have collaborated with ICOM during the
past three years. ICOM considers such partnerships to be
a key factor in joint efforts to ensure the protection and
durability of world heritage.
Finally, we welcome the arrival of a new partner, the International
Council of African Museums (AFRICOM). Although some of you
will claim that members of ICOM have known AFRICOM for a
long time, this organisation has taken on a new dimension
and is now the equal of ICOM. I was particularly pleased
to attend the inauguration of this new organisation in Lusaka
(Zambia), when our colleague Shaje'a Tshiluila was elected
President. AFRICOM has functioned as an independent pan-African
organisation since 1999. It was recently established in
Nairobi (Kenya), and has its own director and secretariat.
We look forward to a fruitful collaboration with AFRICOM,
in the interests of museums and museum professionals in
General Conference in Barcelona will be an important step
towards the development of ICOM, with a renewed mandate,
revised statutes and prospects for new work sites in other
regions of the world. In a nutshell, it should add value
to the work already accomplished thanks to the energy of
many of our members.
that we have achieved so much, it is important not to lose
our momentum. Nor should we rest on the laurels we have
acquired in the last three years.