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Tokyo Resolution

ICOM joins Tokyo Resolution International Alliance on the Information Revolution for the 21st Century

It is now universally recognised that current developments and changes in the gathering, communication and use of information of all kinds is going to have profound effects on most if not all areas of life. There are both enormous opportunities as well as questions for serious concern in the technological changes already with us and those confidently forecast for the immediate future. Obvious examples of the new opportunities are those offered by the ever more powerful yet far cheaper technologies, such as computers, multimedia, telephone, fax and electronic mail, cable and satellite information and entertainment systems, and the new global information and communication databases and networks, such as INTERNET and the French Minitel at the present time, and the planned global Information Super Highways that will be in place by beginning of the new millennium.

However, these developments bring with them not only unparalleled opportunities for major providers and users of information, such as museums, libraries, archives and educational establishments: there are very real threats as well. Will a combination of commercial and political pressures lead to a 21st century in which non-profit educational and cultural bodies such as museums provide the essential raw material of the new Information Age, but are unfairly exploited by global commercial information providers and managers? Equally, in ten years time will billions of geographically, economically and socially disadvantaged people across the world find themselves cut off from the educational, economic and entertainment advantages and possibilities of the Information Revolution and hence be developing into a new `Fourth World' global underclass?

There is a great danger that such a scenario could quickly emerge not just in the traditional so-called `Third World' countries, but equally among the poor, the unemployed, the chronically sick and the elderly populations living in the decaying hearts of hundreds of major cities of Europe and North America and unable to afford the new information services. Similarly, isolated rural communities throughout the world may be regarded as too small to make the cost of their connection to the global communications and entertainment industry networks profitable. However, properly used the recent and forthcoming changes in the information field could bring untold benefits to the whole of the world's population, and offer unparalleled opportunities for the information-creating and -using sectors, including museums.

The International Federation for Information and Documentation (FID) has brought together a very wide range of international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) with interests in the information field in the broadest sense to both form a Strategic Alliance of NGOs working in the information, communication and knowledge fields, with the aim of serving better the world community. The first initiative of the new Strategic Alliance of NGOs is the `Tokyo Resolution' reproduced below, adopted and signed by the initial 18 participating NGOs during the opening session of FID's Congress in Japan on 4 October 1994.

Museums are major players in the information field, both as in relation to the enormous amount of unique information contained in the museum's collections and supporting documentation, and also because museum staff are in constant need of highly specialised information from libraries, academic institutions and - increasingly - information networks, in their day to day work. Consequently, the December 1994 meeting of the ICOM Executive Council, on the recommendation of ICOM's Documentation Committee, CIDOC, unanimously agreed to join the Strategic Alliance on behalf of the museums and the professional museum workers of the world, and in January 1995 Elisabeth Des Portes, our Secretary-General, signed the Tokyo Resolution in the name of ICOM.

Already the Alliance has over 40 participating international NGOs, representing through their combined memberships some hundreds of thousands of individual professionals and academics in the world's information, communication and knowledge professions and `industries'. The NGOs now taking part include those representing professionals and academics in libraries, archives, sound and film archives, information and terminology, the International Council of Scientific Unions, the International Association of Universities, adult education, social sciences, market research, philosophy and humanities, the World Federation of Engineering Organisations and of international publishing and press organisations.

Following the adoption of the Tokyo Resolution and its presentation to a wide range of governmental bodies including the United Nations and UNESCO, the Strategic Alliance is now moving ahead with a number of specific projects aimed at implementing and publicising the principles set out in the Resolution. Most immediately it is submitting joint evidence to the United Nations/UNESCO World Commission on Culture and Development. Other plans drawn up at an initial workshop held in London in February 1995 include proposals for seminars or conferences to explore both the public understanding of information developments (in which museums, especially science museums and centres, are seen to have a leading role), on lifelong learning and continuing professional development, and on the issue of the growing world gap between the information rich and information poor.

Further high priorities include the preparation and publishing of a global forecasting report in information trends and their impact on society (which is being coordinated and funded by the British Library), an examination of the ways in which the professional codes of ethics of the partners in the Alliance deal with ethical issues in relation to the collection and use of information, the sharing of information on participating organisations' medium- term forward plans, and a study on the implications of current developments of Information Infrastructures and Superhighways.

In support of the Alliance and the Tokyo Resolution the FID is launching charge-free on-line information systems (both Gopher and World Wide Web) on the INTERNET. (For the latest news on progress with these please contact FID direct (FID, P.O. Box 90402, 2509 LK The Hague, Netherlands; FAX: +31-70-314.0667; e-mail: secretariat@fid.nl). Patrick J. Boylan

The Tokyo Resolution on Strategic Alliance of International Non Governmental Organizations in Information to serve better the World Community


We, the undersigned, international non governmental organizations representing the Information Sector in the broadest sense of the word ie. production, acquisition, dissemination, management, preservation and use of information (hereinafter referred to as management and use of information), solemnly agree to create a Strategic Alliance based on the following rationale and objectives:

1. All countries - large and small, rich and poor - share a deep concern about many global problems, ranging from the exhaustion of the planet's environmental resources to new global threats to health; the spread of poverty and famine; political and social tensions; demographic explosions; an unstable world economy and the deterioration of the quality of life. We believe that the proper use of information for decision-making at all levels of society will help solve humanity's problems as the world enters an age of greater awareness of the importance of information. To this end, it is critical to ensure continuity in access by documenting and preserving high quality records of the actions of society, through time.

2. All persons must have open and unrestricted access to information, consistent with the protection of individual rights, appropriate economic incentives, and the concerns of nations and peoples as determined by their unique circumstances.

3. As stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights `Everyone has the right to freedom of expression and opinion; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers'.

4. Societal improvements require a deeper and widespread understanding of how to find and use authentic information properly. Universal literacy, lifelong learning, education and training are essential to these improvements.

5. We who are involved in the management and use of information face several forces of change. These forces are economic, political and cultural and include dramatic technological developments and vastly expanded user expectations for information services. The forces also present many challenges concerning the protection of intellectual property, the provision of access, protection of privacy, security, integrity and preservation of information, and the increased need for common legal and technical standards.

6. A particularly serious problem is the increasing information gap between various countries and societies within them, which is exacerbated by the increasing cost of information. Developing countries have an essential need both for information produced outside their frontiers and for information they themselves produce which must be properly managed, disseminated and used.

7. Each of our non-governmental organizations has its own distinct identity and objectives which should be preserved. Allied, we represent a major force which can lead the way forward for the information professions. We realize that the societal problems are too great for any single organization to help solve alone and that we should avoid any unnecessary overlap of effort. Intense collaboration, consultation and strategic planning are the answers.

We believe that a strategic alliance will contribute to advancing the goals of our organizations, contribute to the solution of the world's problems, better serve the world community and intensify our collaboration with Intergovernmental Organizations.

Our common goal is to serve society by:

(a) Providing an international forum to address issues of common interest.

(b) Identifying common issues in the management and use of information; clarifying diverging positions and agreeing on new cooperative solutions, especially concerning equitable access, balanced intellectual property protection, the protection of privacy, information systems security and common legal and technical standards.

(c) Forecasting and assessing changes affecting the provision of information to meet the expected challenges.

(d) Ensuring that the information professions take a pro-active stance in studies aimed at elucidating future aspects of human endeavour.

(e) Ensuring that the development and application of information technologies effectively meet the needs of users of information.

(f) Encouraging the use of new teaching and learning technologies and other telematics techniques in education and lifelong learning starting at the pre-school age.

(g) Ensuring that the information professions, through education and training, maintain and further develop their knowledge and expertise in order to keep up with changes in the environment.

(h) Encourage the development of communication training and education programmes that increase awareness of the importance of interactive communication between providers and users of information.

(i) Advocating practices that guarantee the integrity and preservation of information irrespective of format and medium, and ensuring that the accuracy and quality of the information are maintained when it is passed along through its cycles of transformation and transfer.

(j) Ensuring that the cost and value of information are recognized in the development of information policies, programmes, systems, and services. However, we need to try to influence policies to ensure that economic barriers do not prevent access to information.

(k) Encouraging the discussion of ethical issues for the information society and the development of principles (eg. codes of conduct for appropriate sectors) related to the responsibilities of the information professions.

(l) Encouraging the need for the development of strong policies on information by suggesting directions for future policy and strategic planning.

(m) Intensifying the collaboration between public and private sectors, in particular by infusing the values of each into the other.

(n) Influencing the creation of new viable product and service clusters both within the information sectors and with external partners.

(o) Encouraging the worldwide identification of information capabilities and the mobilization of these for the solution of major global problems.

(p) Devising international programmes to strengthen the awareness of the value of information in all areas of human endeavour such as education, science, industry, culture and recreation.

(q) Creating awareness and promoting the role of international non-governmental organizations in information.

(r) Developing a coordinated, international approach to the research needs of the information field.


Updated: 11 July 2005