The Human Rights Archives and Documentation Program is a project of the Global Resource Network focused on the preservation  of human rights-related documentation and evidence.

The program’s formation began at the 2007 public conference “Human Rights Archives and Documentation: Meeting the Needs of Research, Teaching, Advocacy and Social Justice,” organized by the Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research (CHRDR) at Columbia University and cosponsored by the Global Resources Network, the University of Texas Libraries, and the Center for the Study of Human Rights (Columbia).

The forum brought librarians and archivists together with Human Rights stakeholders from many disciplines to discuss the complex issues surrounding the “lifecycle” of Human Rights documentation:

  • the creation of documentation and evidence relating to a human rights offence
  • the custody and use by individuals and institutions for purposes of advocacy or justice
  • the maintenance of these records by local organizations and their eventual disposition
  • the organization, preservation, and granting of access to documentation with appropriate restrictions
  • and the further use in teaching, research, legal proceedings, and social action.


Speakers from a range of backgrounds and experience, including creators of documentation, experts in the legal profession, archivists, librarians, and teachers of Human Rights spoke to these challenges during the public proceedings of the conference.  The conference culminated in a working session during which attendees identified roles that libraries can play in ensuring the integrity and preservation of evidence and documentation.

The consensus of attendees was that libraries must support the effective collecting, safekeeping, and appropriate accessibility of archives and other materials that document violations of human rights and that support the prevention and prosecution of those abuses in all world regions.

The Documentalist

Visit CRL's human rights blog for the latest news, information, and analysis on the role of technology in human rights documentation.