Human Rights Web Archive-Archived Index

The Human Rights Web Archive is an initiative by Columbia University Libraries and Information Services (CUL) and its Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research (CHRDR), with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to select, preserve, and provide access to freely available internet resources, specifically addressing at-risk websites in the area of human rights.  As expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this concept includes such commonly recognized areas as freedom from torture, slavery, and arbitrary arrest, but also embraces social, cultural, and economic rights, freedom of movement and assembly, the right to work, and more.

The interdisciplinary, wide-ranging, and highly networked field of human rights relies extensively on web-based information to disseminate publications, reports, media, and other content.  While placing material on the internet allows for widespread and rapid access to information, much of this content is at risk of disappearing within a relatively short time period.  Archiving this information and facilitating its ongoing discovery and use is essential for building the documentary record of human rights practice and research.

The Human Rights Web Archive project complements Columbia University Libraries’ strength in human rights collecting.  The CHRDR is the official repository of the archives of several important organizations such as Amnesty International-USA, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, and the Committee of Concerned Scientists.  Through its Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Human Rights Institute, and numerous programs and courses dedicated to this theme, Columbia University upholds a strong commitment to human rights teaching, research, and advocacy training.  The Libraries’ commitment to the preservation of and access to human rights resources underlies our interest in addressing the crucial need to collect often ephemeral web-based content.

Scope of Web Archiving

The HRWA project identifies freely available information on the web of importance to the global community of human rights researchers, students, and advocates.  Priority will be given to identifying sites of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from throughout the world, although sites maintained by individuals will also be eligible for collecting.  Websites most at-risk will be a higher priority for archiving and we will take into consideration the web archiving initiatives already in place in certain regions and countries when evaluating sites for inclusion in the project.

Selection of Websites

Subject Specialists at Columbia University Libraries, with expertise in human rights and world regions,  play a primary role in identifying websites for archiving.  We also invite nominations of sites from human rights researchers, advocates, and organizations. (Please see the Quick Links box above.)  A variety of criteria drives our selection process, including perceived risk of website longevity, relevance of subject matter to current research, teaching and advocacy, and complementarity of websites with existing print collections held at Columbia University Libraries.  Organizations whose print archives are held at Columbia will be another priority for archiving.

Permissions & Copyright

The Human Rights Web Archive project follows principles and techniques of non-intrusive harvesting.  We will attempt to notify all organizations and/or individuals whose sites are selected for archiving.  We will refrain from archiving sites that do not wish to be included in this project and will remove harvested content from the archive upon request by site owner(s).  Some sites may contain material that is produced by other parties who may claim copyright ownership of such material.  The HRWA reserves the right to remove any material that in our reasonable opinion may violate copyright or other intellectual property rights.  Third-party copyright holders who believe their rights have been infringed may contact us at

Accessing Archived Web Resources

Material archived in the Human Rights Web Archive project will be publicly available, initially via the Internet Archive project site.  Websites included in the HRWA will receive catalog records in the online library catalog for Columbia University Libraries and in OCLC's Worldcat database with links to both the live sites and the archived content.  Project staff will actively explore alternative means of providing access to archived material. 

More Information

For more information, please see our FAQ and Web Resources Collection Program pages.  General questions and comments may be sent to  and technical questions should be directed at

Core Program Team

Stephen P. Davis, Director, Libraries Digital Program Division
Tessa Fallon, Web Collection Curator
Pamela Graham, Director, Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research
Kate Harcourt, Director, Original and Special Materials Cataloging
Alex Thurman, Web Collection Curator
Melanie Wacker, Metadata Coordinator
Robert Wolven, Associate University Librarian for Bibliographic Services and Collection Development