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Activity Report 1998 - 2001
The General Secretariat
Manus Brinkman, Secretary General

ICOM is in a very healthy situation. There are more members every year, more activities from both the committees and the Secretariat in collaboration with them. The financial situation is sound. ICOM is more visible.

Although membership went up during the last triennium, with 3% on the average, there remain issues to reflect upon. Europe's presence in the membership constitutes 77% of the total membership. The other regions trailed behind.

ICOM's financial situation is healthy. A safe reserve fund has been preserved. ICOM is to a great extent dependent on its membership fees, but considerable funds have been raised outside ICOM for its special projects, among which the major ones were:
The Red List of African Archaeological Objects: 68 000 $
The Conference on Cultural Tourism in Latin America: 1 500 000 FF.
The Launching of AFRICOM: 690 000 FF
The Conference on the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Southeast Asia: 265 000 $
Activities Nubia Museum/Training Centre: 235 000 $
ICOM Arab meeting: 70 000 $

In October 1999 AFRICOM was established. When the final voting had ended, members of the board had been elected and Nairobi had been chosen as the headquarters, we had the feeling that we had witnessed the coming true of a dream that many people in ICOM fostered for years. Thanks to the efforts of many African museum-professionals over the years the inaugural meeting could be held in Lusaka. ICOM had put a lot of energy in helping the creation of AFRICOM and it is with great pride that we can announce to have established a pan-continental African organization of museums that will closely collaborate with ICOM in the future. The birth of AFRICOM was a highlight, but there was more:

The fight against Illicit Traffic has continued with the publication in 2000 of the Red List of African Archaeological Objects, which identifies the objects particularly at risk from looting. In 2001 a new publication "Looting in Europe" was added to the series "One Hundred Missing Objects". In 2001 a meeting on the protection of the cultural heritage for all South East Asian countries was organised in Vietnam. The prevention of Illicit Traffic was one of its main themes. Museum-professionals, police and custom officers from ten South East Asian countries attended. In 2000 two Memorandums Of Understanding were signed, one with Interpol and one with the World Customs Organization, both with the aim of sharing knowledge and information with regard to illegal trade in cultural objects. ICOM has already worked closely with Interpol. Every issue of ICOM-News shows stolen objects on the back cover and Interpol provides the information about them. There is also cooperation as regards Interpol's CD-ROM of stolen objects. The size of the illicit traffic and the growing awareness of the seriousness of the problem make it absolutely necessary for ICOM to continue and even strengthen its activities in this field.

ICOM took up one of the key items of the Triennial Programme, Cultural Tourism, by organizing a major conference in 2000 in Peru and Bolivia on Cultural Tourism in Latin America. 120 participants met and specialists presented papers to address the challenges of developing tourism while at the same time avoiding the negative aspects of mass-tourism. As a result a book has been published by ICOM: "Museums, Heritage and Cultural Tourism" with the proceedings of the workshop, all the papers presented and the recommendations.

Cooperation and partnership have been key words in the Secretariat's work.
ICOM's aim is to organize its activities more and more in close collaboration between various ICOM bodies. The Conference on Cultural Tourism was organized in close cooperation with the National Committees from Peru and Bolivia and the Secretariat in Paris. The meeting on the Protection of the Cultural Heritage in South East Asia was a joint venture between ASPAC and ICOM's Secretariat with contributions of the relevant international committees. Meetings and workshops in the Arab world have been organized in collaboration with ICOM-Arab and the relevant National Committees.
The official ties with ICCROM in Rome have been strengthened. ICOM continues to work closely together with ICOMOS, ICA and IFLA in the framework of the Blue Shield. ICOM has been collaborating closely with UNESCO in various activities: the fight against Illicit Traffic; the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (and specifically its Second Protocol); the training programs of museum-personnel in Egypt and activities in Africa.
ICOM's future lies in sharing and co-operating. Ideally all our future activities should be the product of a cooperation between various bodies of ICOM: the committees, the policy making bodies, the Secretariat.

Sharing and cooperating is all about communicating. Communication has been at the core of the Secretariat's attention. A person responsible for the Internet has been employed and ICOM's Website has been redesigned in 2001.

ICOM News has been and still is our permanent contact with the members. It has been produced four times a year and gives a lot of information on the activities of ICOM and ICOM's partners. The Study Series, produced by the International Committees serve as a contribution to the theoretical debate within the organization.

The Secretariat has been reorganised in the past triennium. A new Communication Unit has been established with three people. This unit is responsible for public relations, publications and ICOM's Website. The Special Project Unit now consists of two project specialists.

An important event in ICOM was the establishment of the ICOM Task Force for Renovation (RTF). This RTF was constituted in 1999 and produced a series of recommendations and a Strategic Action Plan that will lead ICOM towards a process of fundamental renewal (a more detailed account is to be found elsewhere in this report). The Secretariat put much effort into providing the necessary information to support the RTF.

In the fall of 2000 ICOM managed in close collaboration with the J. Paul Getty Trust to receive the right to establish the Internet Top Level Domain name <.museum> (dot museum). This new TLD is intended to give museums the possibility of registering Internet addresses with a distinct museum identity and will allow users of the Internet to recognize this as a sign of authenticity. Registration in <.museum> will be restricted to museums and museum organizations according to the definition established by ICOM. It was great news for the museum-community because <.museum> offers a range of challenges for museums all over the world.

At the Secretariat we were especially honored when the German Committee visited Paris. It was an excellent initiative that offered an opportunity to meet and visit ICOM's offices, but also to meet with the members of the French Committee. It was also a great chance to meet our national committee of Yugoslavia in Belgrade at a time when the country was still isolated from the rest of the world. Despite the boycott the committee worked very hard with its limited means to make ICOM a success in the country. It is exactly this spirit that makes ICOM so strong. Knowing that we are not alone because we are sharing a common mission gives us ICOM power all over the world.


Partners are important for ICOM. They have always been. Combined efforts lead to combined strength, which is all in the interest of our common heritage. It is true that ICOM's partners all have various aims and goals, but there are many parallels in the mission-statements of each and it is exactly there where collaboration is the most effective.


ICOM has a long-standing relationship with UNESCO. ICOM's Secretariat is accommodated in UNESCO's offices.
Both organizations maintain the UNESCO-ICOM Information Centre. ICOM signs a biennial framework agreement with UNESCO. The first agreement was signed in 1996, the second in 1998 and the third in 2000. ICOM assisted the Egyptian Museum sector within the framework of UNESCO's International Campaign for the Establishment of the Nubia Museum in Aswan and the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation in Cairo. For the details: see the report of the Programme Activities Sector.
The Secretary General contributed to UNESCO meetings on the Protection of Cultural Heritage orally and in writing; members of the Secretariat were present at the relevant UNESCO meetings. Close contact exists between the Cultural Heritage Division of UNESCO and ICOM; there are consultations on a regular basis.
Patrick Boylan represented the International Committee of the Blue Shield during the meeting on the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. ICOM's Secretary General was also present.
ICOM collaborated on various occasions with UNESCO in the framework of the fight against Illicit Traffic.

International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS)

ICOM collaborates with the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the International Council on Archives (ICA) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) in the framework of the ICBS. See for details the report of the Programme Activities Sector.


ICOM was represented in ICCROM's administrative meetings by the chairperson of the International Committee for Conservation. To strengthen the ties between the two organizations the President of ICOM attended ICCROM's board meetings and a representative of ICRROM attended Executive Council meeting of ICOM. The Secretary General visited ICCROM in 2000 to discuss opportunities for joint activities. Both the President and the Secretary General met with the former and with the present Director General of ICCROM.


ICOM helped establish AFRICOM as an independent pan-African organisation. After its official establishment it became ICOM's partner in Africa. ICOM cooperated with AFRICOM in projects in Africa. For details see the report of the Programme Activities Sector.

The J. Paul Getty Trust

ICOM and the J. Paul Getty Trust have set up "Musedoma", the organisation that will manage the top level domain <.museum>.

The ICOM Foundation

The Foundation was renewed during the 84th session of the Executive Council in July 1995. The Foundation then proceeded to elect its Bureau in November 1995 in compliance with the statutes. The members of the Bureau are:
Christine Boël (Belgium), President
Hubert Landais (France), Vice-President
Sylvia Omura-Pestalozzi (Switzerland), Treasurer
Anton Pestalozzi (Switzerland) and Giuseppe Panza di Biumo (Italy) were appointed as Honorary Members.

This Bureau is still functioning. Since the 19th ICOM Conference in Melbourne (Australia), the Foundation has continued its programme "Jewellery from the Five Continents", produced in collaboration with the Réunion des Musées Nationaux of France (RMN), in aid of both the ICOM Foundation and the museums involved.

The profits from this programme, in addition to a few donations, have enabled the ICOM Foundation to give 9,000 dollars to the Organising Committee of the ICOM 2001 Conference in Barcelona (Spain).

Furthermore, the Friends of the ICOM Foundation paid directly to the ICOM 1997 Conference the sum of 97,626 French francs in 1999, 2000 and 2001.

Finally, the ICOM Foundation is on the point of sending to the National Museum of Phnom Penh the sum of 3,335.17 dollars collected on its behalf.

Updated: 17 June 2005