Columbia’s Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research Conference Marks Opening of Human Rights Archives

NEW YORK, October 10, 2007 - The Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research at Columbia University Libraries, with the co-sponsorship of the Center for Research Libraries Global Resources Network, the University of Texas Libraries, and the Center for the Study of Human Rights hosted a public conference from October 4 to 6, 2007 entitled "Human Rights Archives and Documentation: Meeting the Needs of Research, Teaching, Advocacy and Social Justice." Full details of the conference are at

2007 Keynote Address

Over 240 scholars, human rights activists, legal advocates, librarians, and archivists from all over the world attended the conference.

"For the first time, Human Rights stakeholders from many disciplines were able to come together to identify the issues around documentation - how it is created, archived, preserved, accessed, and utilized, and to establish an appropriate role for archives in addressing those issues for the benefit of all the stakeholders," said David Magier, Director of the Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research. "As was dramatically demonstrated by many of the conference presentations, the world's documentation on human rights is often at risk. Addressing that risk is critical to the ability of governments, courts, and the human rights community to deter and punish violations of human rights, and to understand the evolution of the global human rights movement," Magier added.

The conference marks the formal opening of Columbia's human rights archives for public access. The Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research at Columbia University Libraries is the official repository for the archives of Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, Committee of Concerned Scientists, and other major international human rights organizations.

The program featured a conversation with keynote speakers Juan E. Méndez, President of the International Center for Transitional Justice and former UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, and David Marwell, Director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. Peter Rosenblum, Clinical Professor of Human Rights Law, Columbia University Law School, moderated the conversation. In addition, current approaches to human rights documentation, grassroots activities and new forms of documentation, legal uses of human rights documentation, and academic approaches to the use of human documentation in teaching and research were featured.

Speakers at the conference included: John Caulker; Executive Director, Forum of Conscience, Sierra Leone; Mary Marshall Clark, Director, Columbia Center for Oral History, Columbia University Libraries; Alison Des Forges, Senior Advisor, African Division, Human Rights Watch; Richard Dicker, Director, Human Rights Watch International Justice Program; Kate Doyle, Senior Analyst of US Policy in Latin America, National Security Archive; Manohar Elavarthi, Director of Campaigns, Sangama, India; Douglas Greenberg, Executive Director, USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education; Mónica Jasis, Founder & Co-Director, Centro Mujeres, Mexico; Paul Gordon Lauren, Regents Professor of History, University of Montana; Kalev Leetaru, University of Illinois; Grace Lile, Media Archives Manager, WITNESS; Paul Martin, Professor, Center for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University; Alice Miller, Professor and Co-Director, Center for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University; Peter Nardulli, Director, Cline Center for Democracy, University of Illinois; Trudy Peterson, former Archivist, U.S. Government; Richard Richie, Cambodian Genocide Documentation Project, Yale University; Graeme Simpson, Director of Thematic Programs, International Center for Transitional Justice; Lucy Thomson, Digital Evidence Project, American Bar Association; and Robert Wolven, Associate University Librarian, Columbia University Libraries.

Moderators included David Magier, Director, Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research, Columbia University Libraries; James Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian, Columbia University; Bernard Reilly, President, Center for Research Libraries/Global Resources Network; Peter Rosenblum, Clinical Professor of Human Rights Law, Columbia University Law School; Joshua Rubenstein, Northeast Regional Director, Amnesty International USA; and James Simon, Director of International Resources, Center for Research Libraries/Global Resources Network.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries' website at is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

The Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research (CHRDR) at Columbia University Libraries supports the community of teachers, researchers, and law and social justice advocates working in the multidisciplinary sphere of Human Rights. The Center develops global collections -- primary and secondary resources, as well as archival collections and internal records from human rights organizations -- and enhances the visibility and accessibility of these collections through high-profile programs, collaborative projects and library services. The CHRDR's website at is the central access point for its activities, archives, and research resources. The entire proceedings of the conference, including video of each presentation, will appear on the site soon.

10/10/07 LMK