Code of Conduct


With reference to the UNESCO Recommendation concerning heritage, preservation, and accessibility of documentary heritage of 2015, including digital heritage and the codes of ethics of ICA, IFLA, and ICOM, the Code of Conduct for ARCMoW membership establishes standards for the preservation, promotion, and access to Africa’s documentary heritage.

It emphasises the professional responsibilities; serves as a model for institutional policies; their conducts when assessing nominations for enlisting in the regional register and urges national committees to work for the transparent identification of collections to be submitted for consideration in the international register.

The Code of Conduct also intends to inspire heritage professionals to adhere to international best practices in safeguarding their documentary heritage.

I. Purpose

Accordingly to the 2015 UNESCO Recommendation, ARCMoW recognizes the importance of educating the membership and general public about the importance of identification, preservation, and accessibility of the documentary heritage by codifying ethical principles to guide the work of heritage professionals. This code provides a set of principles to which heritage professionals aspire.

II. Professional Relationships

Heritage Institutions select, preserve, promote and make available historical records and other types of documents of enduring value.

Heritage professionals cooperate, collaborate and respect each heritage institution and its mission and collecting policies. Respect and cooperation form the basis of all professional relationships with colleagues and users.

III. Governance

ARCMoW Executive Committee is expected to conduct its business in an efficient and transparent manner to its membership.

National Committees and portfolio holders shall adhere to provisions of the ARCMoW Code of Conduct and submit timely reports to the Executive Committee.

IV. Arbitration

Heritage institutions shall exercise professional arbitration with probity in selecting, preparing and submitting nominations for enlisting in national, regional and international registers.

National and Regional Committees shall not allow personal beliefs, convictions or perspectives to affect their decisions in assessing nominations.

V. Probity

Under no circumstance shall members and documentary heritage professionals profit or otherwise benefit from their privileged access to and control of selection processes of enlisting of nominations to the registers.

VI. Authenticity and Integrity

The documentary Heritage Professionals shall strive to preserve and protect the authenticity of records in their holdings by documenting their creation and use in hard copy, electronic, and other formats. They have a fundamental obligation to preserve the intellectual and physical integrity of those records.

The documentary Heritage Professionals shall not alter, manipulate, or destroy data or records to conceal facts or distort evidence. The long-term survival of the heritage must not be put at risk in the interests of short-term exploitation. Conservation and restoration work shall not distort or change the heritage beyond the intentions of its creators.

VII. Access

Membership shall:

  1. strive to promote open and equitable access to their services and the records in their care without discrimination or preferential treatment, in accordance with legal requirements, cultural sensitivities, and institutional policies;
  2. recognise their responsibility to promote the use of records as a fundamental purpose for the keeping of documentary heritage;
  3. may place restrictions on access for the protection of privacy or confidentiality of information in the records, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.


VIII. Privacy

ARCMoW protects the privacy rights of donors and individuals or groups who are the subject of records. It further respects all users’ right to privacy by maintaining the confidentiality of their research and protecting any personal information collected about them in accordance with the institution’s security procedures.

IX. Security/Protection

The documentary Heritage Professionals shall protect all documentary materials for which they are responsible and guard them against defacement, physical damage, deterioration, looting, theft and illicit trafficking. They shall cooperate for this purpose with colleagues, UNESCO and law enforcement agencies to apprehend and prosecute culprits.

X. Law

Heritage practitioners must uphold all ratified international conventions, the 2015 Recommendation, and state and local laws, i.e. contractual obligations, copyright legislation, moral rights, agreements, and relationships with donors, legators (bequests), depositors, or clients. They shall consistently observe and maintain the above with integrity and transparency.

Dated this 22nd day of July 2021.