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Speech by Dr. Katherine Muller-Marin, UNESCO Representative in Viet Nam at the Ceremony of Inscription of the Imperial Archives of the Nguyen Dynasty on MOWCAP’s Register

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Event: Ceremony of Inscription of the Imperial Archives of the Nguyen Dynasty on MOWCAP’s Register
Date: 30 July 2014

Dear friends, dear promoters of Viet Nam’s amazing heritage,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, we prioritize the recognition and celebration of the inscription of the Imperial Records of the Nguyen Dynasty in the Asia-Pacific Register of the Memory of the World.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and congratulations to all of those involved for your efforts in the diligent process of preserving, restoring, and promoting these valuable pieces of Viet Nam’s political and cultural heritage.

These records hold relevant significance for anyone reading them as they take you back in time through tales of over 150 years of Viet Nam’s political, socio-economic, and cultural development.

Although coming from many generations ago,, these documents reflect the nation’s lasting commitment to educational, cultural, and scientific development that is still so strong today.

It is encouraging to know, for example, that during his reign from 1802 to 1820, Emperor Gia Long made numerous comments on the Imperial Records focusing on the advancement of education.

As we can read in the records, since those times, talented students were selected through examinations to study in the National University in Phu Xuan, the ancient capital of the country established by the Emperor to educate children of mandarins.

We can learn from our readings by discovering that in 1825, Emperor Minh Mang mapped out policies on the distribution of relief goods and the reduction of rice prices in regions affected by natural disasters.

And what do you think when you read that Emperor Thanh Thai opened a National School in 1896 to develop talented students with a greater knowledge of Western civilization and expressed his approval to procure newspapers in foreign languages, a move towards developing the educational capacities of students while fostering intercultural understanding?

These are only a few examples of the rich political and cultural heritage preserved in these Imperial Records that we celebrate today. They reflect the same national determination towards educational and scientific development, international exchange, and cultural development that we see today. They show how great the nation is when it comes to education and culture.

The inscription of these records in the Asia-Pacific Register of the Memory of the World presents new opportunities to improve the conservation of documentary heritage, exchange information and raise resources for the preservation, digitization, and dissemination of these valuable works.

One of the Memory of the World’s goals is to use state-of-the-art technologies to provide wider accessibility and diffusion of the items inscribed on the Register, a significant step towards ensuring that future generations continue to have the opportunity to learn from and be awed by these historical heritages in the same why that I am.

I am pleased to hear Mr. Ha Van Hue, Director of National Archive Centre No. 1 say that the Centre restored most of the damaged documents and that the Imperial Records have been digitized and collected in a research database in order to promote the value of the Imperial documents.

I highly recommend that these digitized documents be offered through open access to learners, professors, researchers, scientists and the public, particularly youth as the agents of future change and development in the nation.

To allow everyone in Viet Nam to treasure this historical past and take pride in national and world documentary heritage is a worthy goal.

I cannot imagine a greater loss if anyone in Viet Nam, especially its youth, is deprived of the opportunity to become captivated by the history and pride captured in these records.
    
I also look forward to being among the visitors to the exhibition “Space of the Imperial Records of the Nguyen Dynasty” organized by National Archive Centre No 1.

It will be an a opportunity for so many people throughout Viet Nam, as well as foreign visitors, to learn more about the important decisions and policies the Nguyen Emperors made and to observe the manifestation of their wisdom through their comments and annotations contained within these pages.  

I would like to express UNESCO’s commitment in doing anything in our capacity to strengthen, together with you, the preservation and promotion of these documents and to share them throughout the world. I am personally ready and willing to promote and further study this significant heritage.

As always, I look forward to finding opportunities to share and promote Viet Nam’s amazing heritage with the world.

On behalf of UNESCO, I thank you for inviting me here today to share this important moment with you and, once again, congratulate you on this very special occasion.

Thank you.