Constantine Douglas, ICA’s Digital Communication Intern | 27 October 2023
Title: Comma 2004-2: Proceedings of the XXXVIIth Conference of the Round Table on Archives (CITRA), Cape Town, South Africa, 21-25 October 2003
Editor: Nancy Bartlett
Why have we selected it?
2023 is a year of major milestones for the international community. Not only is the ICA celebrating its 75th anniversary, but December 10th also marks 75 years since the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Like the ICA, formed in Paris by UNESCO, this milestone document was also created in Paris during 1948 under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), with the General Assembly being directly responsible for the UDHR. Consequently, December 10th is now recognised as International Human Rights Day. In the lead up to this date, we have digitised a piece of ICA history linking the archival community with historical and ongoing struggles for human rights worldwide.
What will you find in this resource?
This issue of Comma features proceedings from a groundbreaking session of the International Conference of the Round Table on Archives (CITRA), that saw a resolution on human rights violations and archives that led to the formation of the ICA Human Rights Working Group (predecessor to the ICA Section on Archives and Human Rights, or SAHR). In addition to several fascinating presentations on topics connecting archives and human rights, this issue also includes the transcript of a keynote speech given by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South African leader and legendary human rights activist, on Liberation, Reconciliation, and the Importance of the Record. In his capacity as former chair and commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Tutu’s speech is an evocative reflection on the painful yet sorely needed service archives provide us as records of institutional injustice. Records are vital in providing the evidence needed not only to seek justice and hold authorities to account, but also to remind us all of our collective responsibility—as well as our particular duty as archives and records professionals—to remain vigilant to and speak out against the conditions that can lead such injustices to be repeated.
“The records are crucial to hold us accountable... They are a potent bulwark against human rights violations. We must remember our past so we do not repeat it.”