December 10th is Human Rights Day, first designated by the United Nations in 1950 to bring attention to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the principles it espoused. This year’s theme emphasizes that every day is human rights day. I think it’s fair to say that every day is human rights day within the Columbia Libraries; our collections and initiatives to preserve and make available resources related to human rights are extensive and involve continuous effort and commitment. Some highlights of our collections:
And in recognition of today’s release of Brazil’s Truth Commission Report:
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about human rights resources in the Libraries. Follow us on Twitter @HRdocumentation And follow the Human Rights day conversation #Rights365.
On December 10th, 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Two years later the UN proclaimed December 10th as Human Rights Day. This day is commemorated throughout the world and calls attention to the ongoing work of promoting and protecting human rights. Columbia University Libraries has made a significant investment in supporting teaching, learning, and research related to human rights and related advocacy movements. Our Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research acquires unique primary resources, including the archives of several major human rights organizations. We have a network of subject specialist librarians who build excellent general collections of resources from around the world in many languages.
Some highlights our our collections: Human Rights organizational archives, including the records of Human Rights Watch , Amnesty International USA, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Committee for Health in Southern Africa.
Notable individuals’ papers
- Gay J. McDougall South Africa and Namibia Papers, which includes records of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Southern Africa Project. This collection documents Ms. McDougall’s work in coordinating the defense of political prisoners, and her work on South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission. This collection is being processed. Please check our Center’s website for updates on the availability of the collection for research.
- Telford Taylor Papers, 1918-1998. Taylor was a prominent lawyer who served as Counsel for the Prosecution at the International and Nuremberg Military Tribunals.
Today marks the opening of the trial of Efraín Ríos Montt, former Guatemalan army general and dictator, who is being charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. Guatemala's truth commission report, issued in 1999, put the death toll at 200,000 during the course of an almost 40-year civil war. In a press release, Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated "This is the first time, anywhere in the world, that a former head of State is being put on trial for genocide by a national tribunal.” The prosecution will turn to an extensive body of documentation, including military records, government documents, and the testimony of 142 witnesses in making its case. It is the exception and not the rule to see so much documentation survive a conflict.
Columbia Libraries and its Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research (CHRDR) provide a gateway to learning about and researching this conflict and the transitional justice process now unfolding. Some recommended resources:
- CHRDR's archives, especially the records of Amnesty International USA and Americas Watch (Human Rights Watch). These collections document human rights monitoring and advocacy from the 1960s to 1990s.
- Digital National Security Archive, Death Squads, Guerrilla War, Covert Operations, and Genocide: Guatemala and the United States, 1954-1999, declassified U.S. government documents.
- NACLA Digital Archive, news and analysis of Latin America with coverage of Guatemala from the 1960s-present.
- Human Rights Web Archive, a CHRDR initiative to preserve human rights websites.
- Daniel Rothenberg's one volume edition of the Guatemalan Truth Commission Report, Memory of Silence; the original 12 volume report, and an online edition.
Recommended subject searches in our library catalog, CLIO Beta:
Beyond Columbia Libraries:
Follow the trial which is projected to last into the summer:
Twitter: #RiosMontt, #GenocideGT and @NISGUA_Guate @PzPenVivo (Plaza Pública) and @ReedBrody (HRW)