Archives and Human Rights  book cover
1st Edition

Archives and Human Rights

ISBN 9780367150341
Published March 9, 2021 by Routledge
352 Pages

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Book Description

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.

Confronting painful memories of the past is a way to make the ghosts disappear and begin building a brighter, more serene future. The establishment of international justice mechanisms and the creation of truth commissions are important elements of this process. The healing begins with the acknowledgment that painful chapters are essential parts of history; archives then play a crucial role by providing evidence. This book is both a tool and an inspiration to use archives in defence of human rights.

The Open Access version of this book, available at, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.


Table of Contents

Foreword  Message from the President of the International Council on Archives  Introduction  Part 1: Archives and Human Rights: A Close Relationship  1. Archives and Citizen Rights  2. Records and Archives Documenting Gross Human Rights Violations  3. Archives and Transitional Justice  4. Archives and the Duty to Remember  5. Archivists for Human Rights  6. Archives and Human Rights Beyond Political Transitions  References  Part 2: Case Studies  7. Proof  Africa  8. A Long Walk to Justice: Archives and the Truth and Reconciliation Process in South Africa  9. Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission: Archives in the Pursuit of Truth  10. The Exploitation of the Archives of Hissène Habré's Political Police by the Extraordinary African Chambers  11. The Gacaca Archive. Preserving the Memory of Post-Genocide Justice and Reconciliation in Rwanda  Asia  12. Memory Politics and Archives in Sino-Japanese Relations  13. The Use of the Archives of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Documentation Centre of Cambodia by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia  Europe  14. Spanish Military Documentation on the Civil War and the Dictatorship as an Instrument of Legal Reparations for the Victims of the Franco Regime  15. The ‘Centres of Remembrance’ in Post-Communist Europe  16. A Legacy of the DDR: The Stasi Records Archive  17. France and the Archives of the Algerian War  18. Truth, Memory and Reconciliation in Post-Communist Societies: The Romanian Experience and the Securitate Archives  Latin America  19. Archives for Memory and Justice in Colombia after the Peace Agreements  20. Utilisation of the Archives of the Peruvian Commission for Truth and Reconciliation  21. Archive, Truth and the Democratic Transition Process in Brazil  22. Archives for Truth and Justice in Argentina: the Search for the Missing Persons  23. Chronicle of a Backlash Foretold. Guatemala’s National Police Archives, Lost and Found and Lost – and Found? – Again  Concluding Remarks

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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 ArchivesSection of International Organizations 2000-2004 and 2008-2012. He is co-editor of the forthcoming Routledge-publication: Recordkeeping in International Organizations.

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 the chair of the ICA Section of Archives and Human Rights and has been Deputy General Director of Archives in the Community of Madrid (2010-2018). He is author of Archival Policies in the Protection of Human Rights (2009).