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Working Group 3
Networking : coordination and collaboration among diverse institutions and organisations in emergency preparedness and response


International Symposium on Cultural Heritage Disaster Preparedness and Response
Hyderabad, India
23 - 27 November, 2003

Recommendations to ICOM

  • ICOM Executive Council should meet with the ICBS Board to develop a functional, operational structure for response to emergency situations.

  • ICOM will work to enhance the ability of ICBS to fulfil its commitment to the Second Protocol of the Hague Convention.

  • ICOM Executive Council should call on specialists in the field to assist in developing an emergency response network.

  • ICOM should reform the objectives of national committees to include the imperative of inclusion of emergency preparedness and response into national deliberations so that they may ACT in emergency situations.

  • ICOM should take the opportunity of the present review of the Code of Ethics and Statutes to include a chapter on the protection of cultural heritage in emergency situations.

  • Require National Committees to present, to the Secretary General, assessments of conditions in their countries as regards preparedness and response capabilities as soon as possible.

  • To be effective, cultural emergency response teams need an operational support structure (ICOM Secretary General should review the structure of Médecins Sans Frontières, Red Cross/Red Crescent and others) and propose to the Executive Council a cultural property emergency response mechanism.

  • Create an adequate communication structure, including building relationships with the media and the press and administrative and political bodies.

  • Create a collection point for information on emergency preparedness.

  • ICOM is not yet recognized as a first responder able to assist nationally or internationally and a protocol is needed to make this happen.

  • Develop standard operating procedures to prepare for emergency response.

  • Create a staffed, permanent task force for emergency response.

  • Create a database of specialists and professionals drawing on ICOM members and other organizations who may assist in emergency response and training.

  • Missions would include:
    • Assessment on site (before and after the crisis)
    • Professional training programmes and response
    • Training of museum professionals
    • Training of non-museum professionals
    • Assist cultural property organizations in writing emergency plans
    • Prepare ethical guidelines for emergency response

  • The Secretary General of ICOM should encourage the ICOM National Committees to co-operate with local, religious and governmental authorities as well as other cultural organizations holding cultural heritage in Emergency Preparedness.

  • As a tool for Emergency preparedness there should be a Web Site to be used, for example for emergency plans for local cultural institutions.

  • Government authorities should be urged to support emergency preparedness and action plans. Special attention should be paid to documentation and inventories both in situ and in fondo.

  • National Committees of ICOM should create local information networks with religious and other cultural organizations dealing with emergency preparedness.

  • National Committees of ICOM should ensure that emergency plans are integrated with local state and national plans.


Networking: Communication and Information

We accept that MEP is a recent initiative of ICOM. ICOM should adopt the following priorities:

Raise awareness generally among all museum people, holders of collections and relevant outside bodies (emergency services etc.) on the need for emergency preparedness & planning.

Priorities should include:

  • Promote MEP through ICOM News - MEP news column in each issue.

  • Develop MEP website within icom.museum web service.

  • E-mail information and discussion list for MEP.

  • Recommend developing Intranet system in support of MEP development (will need funding for this).

ICOM should adopt these information priorities:

Provide relevant information on emergency preparedness, response and recovery for the benefit of all museum people, holders of collections and relevant outside bodies (emergency services etc.).

Priorities will include Information on:

  • existing relevant networks and sources, centres of excellence, training programmes and resources.

  • making available existing documents in various formats (web, CD, physical copies in regional documentation centres and museums, particularly those of MEP partners (ICOM, ICOM International Committees, e.g. ICOM-CC, ICMS & ICTOP), ICCROM, GCI), plus other relevant bodies with existing material, e.g. UNESCO, Other Blue Shield member organisations.

Types of material needed:

  • Official documents, such as International treaties and agreements and information on their application (e.g. Hague Convention, Geneva Conventions, regional Agreements).

  • Working Papers (e.g. from this meeting).

  • Case studies and model emergency systems as examples of best practices.

  • Training resources and programme details.

New material:

  • Identify needs in relation to the development of new material of all kinds relating to the MEP project.

  • Seek cooperation from National Committees (and relevant Regional International Committees (particularly ICOM-CC, ICMS, ICAMT) to provide lists and details of museum emergency incidents on a confidential basis (all types of incident, from minor vandalism to catastrophic disasters) and including cases where the risk was successfully avoided or contained.

Legal issues:

  • Negotiate copyright agreements for the posting of material on the proposed website, and for it to be distributed in different formats (photocopies, printed publications, CDs). (We propose that MEP partners in particular should be approached to do this as soon as possible.)


  • All material should be made available in the original language and any texts not in one of the three ICOM languages should have a translated abstract.

  • We are planning and encouraging the National Committees of ICOM to be very active partners, providing both abstracts and, eventually, full translations into national and local languages

Finally, we call on ICOM to declare an International Awareness day or week devoted to the subject of "Cultural Property, Response and Recovery in Emergency Situations".


Updated: 11 July 2005