Global Resources, a program established in 1996 by the Association of Research Libraries and the Association of American Universities with funding by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, gave rise to a number of projects designed to increase the amount and variety of source materials available to North American scholars for the study of particular regions. It also spawned resource-building partnerships between North American libraries and their counterparts in other world regions. In 2005 the Global Resources steering committee set the goal of broadening the program to support understanding of issues that transcend regions, issues that are global in impact. One such issue is human rights.
The emergence of an international human rights movement has arguably been one of the most important developments in recent history. Adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 was a momentous event. The ensuing decades saw the emergence of a worldwide movement to protect individual rights and monitor and prosecute genocide, state-sponsored violence, political persecution, and other violations of human rights. The movement gave rise to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, WITNESS, and many other advocacy organizations.
As part of that development many CRL universities put in place academic and professional programs on human rights, and the study has permeated disciplines as diverse as political science, economics, law, history, medicine, and public health.
- The Artemis Project, a collaboration of Yale University Library and Law School, is working with truth commissions to assess their needs for the protection and long-term preservation of commission records. And Yale’s Project Diana maintains an online library of documents relating to important human rights cases.
- The Duke Human Rights Center at Duke University is an interdisciplinary effort by scholars and students to promote understanding of human rights, terror, and political violence, as well as the politics of forgiveness, accountability, and reconciliation.
- The Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights at Rutgers University promotes cutting-edge research and scholarship; educational initiatives, workshops, and seminars; outreach and commemorative programs; and international collaborations related to genocide and human rights.
- The Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research at Columbia University has been designated the repository of the papers of two major human rights advocacy groups: Amnesty International USA and Human Rights Watch.
- The Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut coordinates human rights initiatives and supports faculty and students who study human rights. The University’s Thomas J. Dodd Center, founded in 1995, holds the Nuremberg archives of former Nuremberg Executive Counsel and Connecticut Senator Thomas J. Dodd.
Active programs in human rights advocacy and documentation also exist at the University of Notre Dame, University of Minnesota, and the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism at McGill University.
Cooperative action by many CRL universities has saved a number of important archives that would otherwise have been lost or destroyed. Some of these are described in the following pages. The importance of this activity was reaffirmed recently by the use of the Khmer Rouge files by the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts in Cambodia, a tribunal established in 2006 to prosecute the remaining Khmer Rouge leadership.
The present issue of FOCUS on Global Resources reports on recent work under the CRL Global Resources Network to identify and resolve issues and challenges CRL universities will face in the continued documentation of the struggle to enforce the Universal Declaration.