The importance of archives for Truth commissions: event on 13 September

September 6, 2013

Truth commission archives are an important part of dealing with the past, which is a long-term process addressing a legacy of human rights violations.humanrightslogo_Goodies_14_LogoVorlagenTruth commissions aim to ensure that the right to know is part of such a process and their archives in turn are vital for securing their legacy of truth-telling and truth-seeking. Truth Archives are an essential means for ensuring that voices of victims will not be lost. Access for victims to these archives is a necessary part of a long-term process of recognition, re-establishing trust, rights claims, understanding and healing. In addition, for society as a whole archives of truth commissions contain valuable information on a shared past and their availability can help to work against impunity and denial by those responsible for human rights violations. As many examples show, archives themselves are also indispensable for use by other transitional justice mechanisms such as trials, reparation programmes and institutional reform. Despite their importance, there are many inconsistencies in practices undermining effective access to Truth Archives and with this the full realisation of the right to truth for victims and the society at large.  Human Rights Defenders are the most frequent contributors to this kind of data collection and can make good use of it when times permit.

Therefore the Side Event which the Swiss Peace Foundation will organise on 13 September (15:00 – 17:00, room XIV, Palais des Nations, Geneva) during the 24th Session of the Human Rights Council is very interesting.

The main speakers at the session are:

Mr. Pablo de Greiff , UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence

Panel Discussion

Ambassador Alberto D’Alotto, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva

Lucie Viersma, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Asmaa Falhi, Chargée de Mission, National Human Rights Council of Morocco

Briony Jones and Sandra Rubli, Swisspeace.

This side event speaks to the lack of consistent practice and international standards with a timely discussion of country experiences and new research. It is building on important work done at the level of the Human Rights Council. The side event is timed to coincide with the presentation of the report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence to the 24th session of the Human Rights Council. The report of the Special Rapporteur will focus on selected challenges faced by Truth Commissions, highlighting also the importance of archives. The side event will also be used as an opportunity to present a recent research study by swisspeace which has resulted in the publication of Archives for a Peaceful Future: a guidance note for working the archives of truth commissions in dealing with the past contexts. This publication brings together archival expertise with dealing with past requirements and highlights both opportunities and challenges for best practice.

The side event is organised by swisspeace with the support of Argentina, Switzerland and Morocco who initiated the creation of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, and will include opening remarks from the Special Rapporteur himself.

Persons who are not normally accredited to the UN, please register until September 9th, 6 pm at: sandra.rubli – at – swisspeace.ch 

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