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Organised and hosted by the United Nations Library & Archives Geneva, this event is inspired by the recently published book ‘Archives and Human Rights’, developed by the ICA Section on Archives and Human Rights and edited by Jens Boel, Perrine Canavaggio and Antonio González Quintana. The book examines why and how records can serve as evidence of human rights violations, in particular crimes against humanity, and help the fight against impunity. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who contributed the foreword to the book joined the co-editors in a moderated discussion on the topic that will highlight case studies from different regions of the world.
Jens Boel is a Danish archivist and historian. He was the Chief Archivist of UNESCO from 1995 to 2017 and Chair of the International Council on Archives’ Section of International Organizations 2000–2004 and 2008–2012. He launched the UNESCO History Project in 2004 and is co-editor of Recordkeeping in International Organizations, Routledge, 2020.
Perrine Canavaggio, a French archivist, was Head of the Archives of the Presidency of the Republic (1974–1994). Secretary of the International Conference of the Round Table on Archives (2001–2009), she is a member of the Executive Committee of the ICA Section on Archives and Human Rights.
Antonio González Quintana is a Spanish archivist. He is Chair of the ICA Section on Archives and Human Rights and has been Deputy General Director of Archives in the Community of Madrid (2010–2018). He is the author of Archival Policies in the Protection of Human Rights (2009).
"This book is both a tool and an inspiration to use archives in defense of human rights."
Why and how can records serve as evidence of human rights violations, in particular crimes against humanity, and help the fight against impunity? Archives and Human Rights shows the close relationship between archives and human rights and discusses the emergence, at the international level, of the principles of the right to truth, justice and reparation.
Through a historical overview and topical case studies from different regions of the world the book discusses how records can concretely support these principles. The current examples also demonstrate how the perception of the role of the archivist has undergone a metamorphosis in recent decades, towards the idea that archivists can and must play an active role in defending basic human rights, first and foremost by enabling access to documentation on human rights violations.
At the ICA Congress in Seoul in September 2016, the Basic Principles of the Role of Archivists and Record Managers in Support of Human Rights was endorsed by the Programme Commission as an ICA working document for discussion, publicising and use by archivists.
Publication Date: Adopted by the ICA in 2010, and endorsed by UNESCO in 2011
"The Declaration is an important step in improving understanding and awareness of archives among the general public and key decision-makers. It is a powerful, succinct statement of the relevance of archives in modern society."
The UN Archives at Geneva maintains records related to the drafting of the Declaration and the covenants which are accessible to the public and available in digitized form. They provide online access to 35 files containing several thousand pages of original and unique materials related to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This material includes drafts of the Declaration, comments from governments, organizations and the general public, and material related to the implementation of the Declaration. Original documents from René Cassin and Eleonor Roosevelt are included in these invaluable records.
In situations of transition from conflict or authoritarian rule where there have been gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law, the Special Rapporteur focuses on the measures adopted by the relevant authorities to guarantee truth, justice, reparation, memory and guarantees of non-recurrence.
The International Council on Archives (ICA) is dedicated to the effective management of records and the preservation, care and use of the world's archival heritage through its representation of records and archive professionals across the globe.