Posts Tagged documents

SwissPeace Joint Venture on Archives Dealing with the Past

The Swiss Peace Foundation (or simply SwissPeace) recently began a new project called Archives and Dealing with the Past.  It is a joint venture between the foundation, the Swiss Federal Archives, and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.  The project mandate is to offer a hub between archivists/documentalists and human rights activists dealing with the past.   Members of the ICA Human Rights Working Group serve on their Advisory Board.  Consequently, one aim of the project is to foster knowledge exchange between the two professional communities (of archivists and activists) and engage in knowledge management activities.  In fact, SwissPeace reached out to the ICA HRWG Directory Project last month and discussions to converge on parallel projects are taking place.


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Documenting Existing Casualty Recording Practice Worldwide

There are numerous casualty recording initiatives around the world, some operating in the midst of ongoing conflicts, and others in a post-conflict environment. Each initiative has amassed some level of experience and relevant expertise in dealing with the problems and obstacles that this type of work, and its practitioners, face. UK think tank, the Oxford Research Group has a research project which draws on the experience of casualty recording organisations around the world to identify and promote good practice, and analyse key issues for practitioners and policymakers wishing to support this work.

Lacking in this field are any agreed-upon good practices or standards by which different projects, methods and outputs may be compared and evaluated. This project is intended to address these issues by publishing a series of papers analysing key issues in casualty recording, and identifying good practice.

The Oxford Research Group is also involved in another project that aims to standardize casualty recording and make it a legal requirement.

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Guantánamo Public Memory Project Update

As of September 1, Elizabeth Silkes (Executive Director of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience) and Elazar Barkan (Director of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University) have announced that their respective organizations, will lead the Guantánamo Public Memory Project.  The Coalition first launched the Guantánamo Public Memory Project in 2009.  They knew that building a public memory of this site’s complex history would require a multi-dimensional approach with the collaboration and involvement of many different stakeholders including scholars and practitioners.

Since the project’s inception, the Coalition has:

  • mapped over 1,000 resources on the history of Guantánamo – from books to video footage to art to oral histories – and the archives, organizations and individuals around the world who own them
  • researched and identified 90 individual stories of diverse Guantánamo experiences and developed a sample of multi-media portraits showcasing some of these stories
  • working with Picture Projects and Tronvig Group, developed an initial web prototype for the project
  • created a blueprint for the project available as a publication

Last April, the Coalition and ISHR brought together over 100 historians, artists, archivists, activists, and others to discuss and debate the next phase of building a public memory around the US naval station at Guantánamo Bay.  In this convening it was decided that the Guantánamo Public Memory Project will be housed at ISHR and led by a committee of partners including the International Coalition, coordinated by the International Coalition’s Founding Director Liz Sevcenko.  This new structure will leverage the resources of Columbia University and ISHR’s new Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability to continue to move the project forward. In the coming year, project aims include the development of the following:

  • Guantánamo Public Memory Project beta web platform, shaped by the feedback many of you have provided on the web prototype, featuring a digital history exhibit; oral histories of refugees, detainees, military personnel, and others with diverse experiences of the base; forums for the latest news on Guantánamo, the latest work of partner organizations, and how people can participate
  • an extensive on-line research resource, integrating documentary, bibliographic, image, video, oral history, and other collections of partner organizations around the world
  • a National Exhibit and Dialogue connecting 8 universities across the country; students collaborate to produce an exhibit on Guantánamo’s history to open at New York University in December 2012 and travel to participating university galleries across the country, accompanied by public dialogues in each community
  • multi-media curricula for high school through university

Silkes and Barkan invite those whom have been integral throughout the development of this project to continue to share their time, resources and knowledge, and stay involved by emailing Liz Sevcenko and the project team at

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A Message from UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon

United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, visited the United Nations Archives and Records Management Section (UNARMS) last year and examined some of the archival records of the UN Korean Reconstruction Agency (UNKRA).  I had to opportunity last summer to archive parts of this large series collection, which are part of the UN Missions fonds.  I was told then that the SG was nostalgic as he examined the records, reflecting on his own experiences as a child in Korea of the 1950s during the time the records were created.  Here’s a brief message from the Secretary-General on the importance of keeping archives, reminding us of the ideals behind preserving official records and opening them up to the public.

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HURIDOCS New Resources Library

The HURIDOCS Resource Library is a carefully curated collection of tools and manuals for human rights monitoring, documentation and communication, produced by HURIDOCS and many other organisations. It contains more than 200 manuals, articles, organisations, websites etc., divided into five main categories: Managing Documentation, Monitoring and Documentation, Search and Analysis, Specific Areas, and Websites and Information Sharing.

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Documenting Violations: Choosing the Right Approach

The organization, New Tactics in Human Rights, featured an online dialogue for documenting violations, Documenting Violations: Choosing the Right Approach, which occurred on January 27 to February 2, 2010.  This dialogue featured practitioners that have developed database systems to document human rights violations, organizations on the ground documenting violations, and those that are training practitioners on how to choose the right approach and system for their documentation.  The dialogue focuses on ways to collect, store and share human rights data safely and effectively.  If you are deciding on a documenting system for your work – or if you have found something that works well, please add your comments to this dialogue to share your questions, ideas, resources and stories.

Go to dialogue

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Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada to Establish Research Centre & Forum

On June 2008, on behalf of the Canadian government, Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper gave an apology to aboriginals for past policies of assimilation and the aboriginal residential school system.  This sparked a renewed interest in the ongoing controversy, the result of which included renewed research interest and use of records from the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) pertaining to this period in Canada’s past.

Recently the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada announced as part of its mandate it will establish a National Research Centre. The centre would be accessible to former students, their families and communities, the general public, researchers and educators.  During its mandate, the Commission will ensure that all materials created or received will be preserved and archived with a purpose and tradition in keeping with the objectives and spirit of the Commission’s work.

In keeping with this part of the mandate to establish a National Research Centre, the TRC is planning to hold a three-day forum in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on March 1-3, 2011 at the Sheraton Wall Centre.  The forum will assemble discussion panels of experts who will provide information to assist the Commissioners in gathering and archiving the statements being gathered.

The vision that emerges from this forum will be the basis on which the National Research Centre will be established.  The expertise being shared will be specific to the creation and organizational structure of research or archival centres, databases or projects for statement gathering, research, public access and privacy management, capacity-building, public education or memorialisation.  The forum will have a particular emphasis on institutions and records that relate to indigenous peoples and to Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, the records and statements they collect and how best to make these accessible.

Go to forum website

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