Panel to Discuss Human Rights Documentation and Archiving

NEW YORK, February 6, 2006 The Columbia University Libraries, WITNESS, and the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York will host a panel this month on current issues in human rights documentation and archiving. The program will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, February 13 in the Kellogg Center, located on the 15th Floor (room 1501) of Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs.

The panel will consist of two human rights archivists, Grace Lile of WITNESS and Csaba Szilagyi of Columbia University’s Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research, as well as New York University political scientist and human rights activist, Louis Bickford. Bickford will present material from “Documents, Archives, and Confronting the Past,” a working group coordinating documentation centers from Serbia and Montenegro, Cambodia, Iraq, Burma, and Guatemala in the collection, preservation, and use of documents to support transitional justice initiatives. Lile will speak on “The WITNESS Media Archive: Audiovisual Media in Human Rights Documentation and Advocacy.” She will discuss the increasing availability of video production and distribution tools as a means of providing media access to under-represented peoples, as well as the challenges this process may pose for human rights archivists. Szilagyi will present two case studies in human rights archives: the Open Society Archives in Budapest and the Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research at Columbia University.

The panel will be preceded by a reception at 5:30 p.m., during which guests will have an opportunity to view an exhibition of children’s drawings, “‘Smallest Witnesses’: The Crisis in Darfur Through Children’s Eyes,” organized by the Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research and Human Rights Watch. The exhibition will be on display in the entry-level 4th Floor Atrium Area of Columbia’s International Affairs Building from February 6 through March 10.

The panel is open to the public. Members of the Archivists Round Table will be charged $4 admission and non-members will be charged $6. To attend, please contact Julie Ludwig of the Archivists Round Table by Wednesday, February 8, 2006, at (recommended) or at (212) 547-0692.

Louis Bickford, a political scientist, has consulted with governmental and nongovernmental organizations, human rights activists, and democratic movements on strategies for confronting the legacies of past abuse in more than a dozen countries, including Burma, Mexico, and Nigeria. As Director of Alliances and Capacity Development, he manages the Transitional Justice Alliance (a global network of NGOs and individuals involved in transitional justice); coordinates fellowship programs in Cape Town, South Africa, and Santiago, Chile, and develops training materials in collaboration with international partners such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. He is a contributor to the 2006 book The Art of Truthtelling After Authoritarian Rule (University of Wisconsin Press), and is the author of the entry on Transitional Justice for the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity (Macmillan, 2006).

Grace Lile is the Media Archive Manager at WITNESS, a human rights organization devoted to expanding the reach of video and other technologies to grass-roots groups for use in human rights advocacy campaigns. Prior to coming to WITNESS, she established and oversaw the first Video Archive and News Library at CNN’s New York bureau. Lile studied Theater at Sarah Lawrence College, received a BA in Cinema Studies from Hunter College, and an MS in Information and Library Science from the Pratt Institute. She has presented papers on various topics pertaining to the archiving of non-fiction audiovisual material at conferences of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) and the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA).

Csaba Szilagyi is the curator of Columbia University’s Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research, a center that is being established to process, preserve, and make available for research and display the archives of major Human Rights NGOs, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International USA. Previously, he was the human rights archivist of the Open Society Archives at Central European University in Budapest and an archives consultant with Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Institute in New York. He has an MA in American Studies from the University of Debrecen, Hungary, and several certificates in archival studies from universities in Hungary and the United States.

The Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc. (ART) is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1979 representing a diverse group of more than 330 archivists, librarians, and records managers in the New York metropolitan area, representing more than 160 repositories. The organization works to educate the public about the legal, historical and cultural value of public and private archives and manuscript collections, to advocate the preservation and use of historical materials, and to provide a forum for professional development through monthly meetings and other events where members of the archival community can discuss issues of concern.

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.

02/06/06 ICL