ICA Congress Opening Ceremony Address by President ICA

6th September 2016
InterContinental, Seoul COEX, Korea

[VIPs and dignitaries], Mr Sang-Jin Lee, delegates and special guests.

Thank you for being here today. Today marks the beginning of an event that has been more than four years in the making. Although no two Congresses of the International Council on Archives are exactly alike, from personal experience I can assure all of you in this room that through all the high and low points of the preparations, nothing comes close to this particular moment of intense excitement and anxiety.

As archives and records management professionals we are operating in very interesting and complex times. There is no topic more fundamental to modern society than information – who holds it, who can access it and how it's used. At the very centre of this issue are the Archives, the custodians of society's memory, and unprecedented challenges are forcing us all to re-think our skills, our methods and our obligations that best prepare us to deliver the services that will meet the requirements of government, industry and civil society – now and into the future.

Every day we deal with so many contradictory pressures. To name a few, we must balance personal privacy with a right to information; uphold government accountability while preserving national security; provide global on-line access to our collections but respect international copyright laws; uphold human rights and play our part in the achievement of the UN sustainable development goals. 

As archivists navigating our way through these complexities, we try and make ourselves a 'neutral' player, to be the honest and objective broker that connects individuals with records. But of course we are very much a central player, and the decisions and choices that we make around appraisal, selection, preservation and access have significant consequences that will endure for all time.

What an important time then to hold an international congress with the theme of 'Archives, Harmony and Friendship: ensuring cultural sensitivity, justice and cooperation in a globalised world'.

Over the next three and a half days you will be in the privileged position of hearing presentations that explore this theme. The contradictions that we face daily will be illustrated by papers on cross-sector partnerships to develop shared solutions. We will courageously explore difficult topics like the abuse of human rights in both historic and modern times and we will hear about achievements and initiatives from all over the globe. I can't imagine a better selection of presentations to illustrate the theme of this Congress and I appreciate every single one of them.

Mr Sang-Jin Lee, I congratulate you on the level of commitment that you and your predecessors at the National Archives of Korea have given to this wonderful event. You have built a strong and effective team to deliver this Congress and I can't wait to see what awaits us.

To all of our supporters thank you.

And finally, to you, the delegates. Between us we represent every corner of the globe. So please, take every opportunity to meet new people, explore new ideas, and bring the Congress theme to life.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017