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This month marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a groundbreaking document that outlined fundamental rights and freedoms for all human beings. The same year the UN General Assembly adopted the UDHR, UNESCO established the International Council of Archives (ICA) to strengthen relations among archivists of all nations and promote collaboration in a post World War II landscape. The concurrent creation of the UDHR and ICA underscores the close ties between archives and human rights; archives can reveal human rights violations and be used to push for reforms, while human rights enshrine the right to information and personal records. Illustrating this mutually supportive relationship are numerous MEAP projects led by community activists to document and disclose their nations histories’ of human rights violations.

To honor Human Rights Day, we’re highlighting four projects that capture the importance of archives and archiving to exposing crimes of the state, restoring democracy, and empowering communities in the face of violent and oppressive histories.

Explore more MEAP projects and digitized collections related to Human Rights and Human Rights organizations.

Explore MEAP Collections

Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Chile)
Personal Archives at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, Chile

Comprising international commission reports, interview transcripts, newspaper excerpts, and official government documents, the Museum of Memory and Human Rights collection is critical in grasping the extent of human rights violations exacted under the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile from 1973-1990. This project consists of four personal collections from activist citizens that lay bare state violence and its aftermath through primary resources such as official reports and documents, as well as testimonies from victims and the families of the disappeared. The four personal collections span over 3,000 items that are available to view on the UCLA Digital Library platform.

Archive of Confederación Campesina del Perú (CCP)
Peruvian Peasant Confederation Archive

The Confederación Campesina del Perú (CCP) was formed in 1947 to unify and represent peasants and Indigenous people from across Peru. This collection chronicles the movement from the 1970s -1990s providing insight into organizational governance as well as internal debates and discussions among group members. The collection includes official motions that call for investigations into state violence committed against peasants, union leaders, federation leaders and other political adversaries during the period of armed internal conflict in the country (1980-2000). The online repository provides incredible insight into this volatile history and the CCP’s response to protect and defend derechos humanos, or human rights, for its marginalized members.

For a deeper dive into this collection, check out the Collection Guides created by the project team, starting with The Peruvian Peasant Movement and the CCP Archive. These guides offer additional context into how the history of the CCP and how the project came to fruition.

Archive of the Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala
The Project for the Recovery of Historical Memory (REMHI) and the National Reconciliation Commission (CNR)

The Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala (ODHAG) was founded to document the state persecution of the Catholic church during the decades-long civil war (1960-1996). The office coordinated Guatemala’s first truth commission and produced the official report: “Guatemala Never Again!” The ODHAG received MEAP funding to create metadata and digitize materials from two different collections – the Project for the Recovery of Historical Memory and the National Reconciliation Commission – that were crucial in drafting the truth commission report. Materials within the digital repository currently include local studies and reports carried out by ODHAG, and will eventually entail photographic material and documentation related to exhumations.

Memoria Abierta Publications
Argentinean Human Rights Digital Library of Periodical and Non-Periodical Publications

Memoria Abierta(opens in a new tab) is a collective alliance of nine Human Rights Organizations (HROs) that worked to denounce social injustice and support victims of repression during the military dictatorship in Argentina (1976-1983). The digital collection of publications (opens in a new tab)includes 1199 magazines, booklets, newsletters, and newspapers from the 1970’s to today. The materials document and reflect (1) the history of the HROs and their members, (2) forms of organization and intervention, and (3) the roles that these groups played in a sociopolitical context. For this collection, Memoria Abierta curated materials that reflect Argentina’s dictatorial state and the consequences that led to organized resistance. The materials are especially significant in light of modern-day right-wing governments regaining presence within and surrounding the country.