Welcome on behalf of Columbia University Libraries/CHRDR
The ability of governments, courts, and the human rights community to deterand punish genocide, state-sponsored violence, and other violations ofhuman rights depends upon access to evidence in the form of documentationof such crimes and the records of investigations and legal proceedingsagainst perpetrators. Truth commissions also depend upon documentation inmany forms to carry out their mission of revealing the human cost ofatrocity. Likewise in academia, researchers and teachers in manydisciplines have a strong interest in these primary resources, as well asthe documentation that illuminates the evolution and operation of the majororganizations that have embodied the international human rights movement.Today human rights evidence and documentation is often at risk, by virtueof technological obsolescence and a host of legal and economic factors.
The Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research at ColumbiaUniversity Libraries, with the co-sponsorship of the Center for ResearchLibraries Global Resources Network, the Center for the Study of HumanRights, and the University of Texas Libraries, is proud to present this public conference on "Human Rights Archives and Documentation:Meeting the Needs of Research, Teaching, Advocacy and Social Justice".
The CHRDR at Columbia University Libraries is the official repositoryfor the archives of Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch,Committee of Concerned Scientists, and other major international humanrights organizations. (Discussions are under way with Human Rights First, Physicians for Human Rights, and the International Center for Transitional Justice). Besides preserving and making accessible the archives themselves, the Center undertakes programs like this conference, to highlight such resources for academic research and teaching purposes, but also for the benefit of humanrights workers and advocates, legal practitioners, journalists, and others around the world.
This conference, which marks the formal opening of the archives for public access, brings together many important "stakeholders" in human rights documentation from several different spheres: those for whom creation and/or use of documentation, in all forms, is a basic feature of their daily work. These different communities often do not communicate directly, and the goal of our meetings tonight and over the next two days is to enable them to identify the issuesaround documentation (e.g. how it is created, archived, preserved,accessed, utilized -- in public HR campaigns, legal proceedings, truthcommissions, as well as academic settings), and to establish an appropriaterole for archives in addressing those issues for the benefit of all thestakeholders.