Posts Tagged Africa

Ghana – A Case for FOI & Archives

This past August, Ghana’s ongoing push to pass an information bill has again been delayed.  Efforts to implement such a bill have encountered road blocks as there has been a lot of bandying about which government body is structured well enough to execute the functions of the bill.

In principle, the information bill would allow the public domain to access information on finances, business relationships, and individual citizens. According to an article in Daily Guide Ghana, “Democracy advocates uphold right to information laws as necessary ingredients for the promotion of good governance, transparency, and accountability.”  This is especially true for a country that is establishing democracy and shows signs of a fast growing economy as Ghana has started oil production last year.  The vote passing of the bill would represent another step towards a solid democracy and anti-corruption efforts.

At the heart of any access to information or freedom of information act or law is effective record-keeping within public bodies and private agencies.  At the same time, exemption clauses have been drafted primarily to protect the interests of government.  Exemptions to the bill, as with any FOI legislation, define the breadth and depth of how much information is actually disclosed.  The exemptions in this case have been described by critics are far too wide.  This has been another source of contention and delay…

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Related articles on record keeping  issues and good governance in Ghana

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IRIBA Center for Multimedia Heritage in Rwanda

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Filmmaker, Anne Aghion attempts to spearhead an initiative to make freely accessible the audio-visual history of Rwanda’s recent past for all Rwandans through the launch of a heritage center, the IRIBA Center.  Aghion has long since been creating documentaries covering the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide. Her last film, My Neighbour My Killer, was intended to foster discussions on co-existence within Rwanda.  In keeping with the theme of sharing the common history that belongs to Rwandans, Aghion along with her Kigali partner, Assumpta Mugiraneza, a social psychologist, are appealing to the public to support and join them to establish IRIBA Center.

The center intends on collecting documentation footage that will represent Rwanda’s historical legacy.  As a media archive of remembrance, IRIBA takes its inspiration from, and plans to model itself after the Bophana Center in Cambodia, started by another filmmaker, Rithy Panh.  Bophana’s belief has been that there is a link between memory and lack of democracy. As such, they have made it their mission to collect, preserve, and make available audio-visual material on the Cambodian genocide.  To spread word on the IRIBA Center, Aghion has enlisted Kickstarter in hopes of raising funds.  Many international donors have already supported the center.

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The 2nd International Conference on African Digital Libraries and Archives

ICADLA-2The ICADLA-2 is being held in Johannesburg, South Africa this fall on November 14th to the 18th as a workshop and conference event.  The theme of this year’s conference is Developing Knowledge for Economic Advancement in Africa.  

The conference organizers invite participants from all African countries, private and public international development organisations, and other countries aiding Africa.  This is a great professional and networking opportunity if you or your organization are interested in capacity development of digitisation projects.  It is a chance to explore and share knowledge in the area of digital resource creation and delivery, digitisation infrastructure, access and preservation of digital resources, and the creation of digital libraries in the African context.

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Advancing Children’s Rights – A Guide for African Civil Society

This past month, Plan and Save the Children Sweden have collaborated to produce a second edition of this guide on how civil society organisations can best engage with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Children (ACRWC).  This guide has been developed in collaboration with African civil society organisations, academics and members of the Committee.  .

Africa is the only continent with a region-specific child rights instrument.  The ACRWC, adopted in 1990 by the Organisation of African Unity (disbanded 2002), is an important tool for African child rights activists as it complements the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Though much progress has been made to promote the ACRWC, still more needs to be done to make this important human rights treaty accessible for civil society and state institutions in Africa.

This guide aims to be a resource for civil society organisations who are interested in finding out more about the ACRWC and the Committee.  The publication highlights methods on data collection, documenting information, and the use of official parliamentary/legislative records.  It contains practical advice and information on how civil society can engage with the Committee to advance children’s rights in Africa.  This edition reflects important developments relating to the Committee’s work, civil society organisations’ engagement with the Committee and the functioning of the CSO Forum on the ACRWC (note the special mention of the CSO Forum database).

The publication of the French version of the Guide is scheduled for May 2011. An Arabic version is also foreseen.

All comments you may have to help improve this edition are most welcome. Please send any input to Åsa Rapp Baro, Regional Advisor, Save the Children Sweden West Africa (asarb@waf.savethechildren.se) and Stefanie Conrad, Deputy Regional Director Programs, Plan West Africa (Stefanie.Conrad@plan-international.org)

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Mandela Archive to go Online

Mandela’s chief archivist, Verne Harris, this week said the team of experts from Google would arrive this month to offer their expertise on how to digitise a treasure of documents linked to the former president.

Mandela, a prolific letter-writer, produced a mass of personal documents, now kept at the Nelson Mandela Foundation headquarters in Houghton, Johannesburg.  A large collection of Mandela’s public documents – including letters he wrote and received while in jail on Robben Island – are stored in the SA National Archives in Pretoria.

Many of the documents are in poor condition, which prompted discussion in recent years on digitising the entire collection – an exercise that involves scanning each document with high-tech equipment.

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UNMIS Archivist Tom Adami to Speak at National Research Centre Forum

Tom A. Adami will be featured as a speaker at the National Research Centre Forum on the Canadian Residential Schools hosted by the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada next month in Vancouver.  He has worked since 1990 as an information manager when he joined the Dept of Defence in Sydney as records manager and archivist. In 1997 he joined the National Archives of Australia as a research officer in the policy development section.  In 1999 he joined the United Nations, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) based in Tanzania as Chief Archivist and head of the Judicial Records and Archives Unit. He subsequently held postings at the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and at the UN Archives in New York.

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New UN Resolution for ICTR & ICTY Archives

The ICA Human Rights Working Group (ICA HRWG)  announced that on December 22, 2010 the United Nations Security Council adopted  Resolution 1966 (2010) creating a body to continue to unfinished business of the Tribunals after they officially close.   The body, called the “Mechanism,” will have two seats: The Hague and Arusha, Tanzania, where the two tribunals now sit.   Article 27 gives the Mechanism the responsibility for “the management, including preservation and access” of the Tribunal archives.  The archives “shall remain the property of the United Nations.”

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