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Part II The Right to Know, C Preservation of and Access to Archives Bearing Witness to Violations, Principle 18 Specific Measures Related to the Restoration of or Transition to Democracy and/or Peace

John D Ciorciari

From: The United Nations Principles to Combat Impunity: A Commentary

Edited By: Frank Haldemann, Thomas Unger

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 16 July 2024

Democracy — Right to truth — Truth and Reconciliation Commissions

Principle 18 outlines specific measures related to the restoration of or transition to democracy and/or peace. Transitional states emerging from repressive rule face a host of serious archival challenges. Outgoing officials sometimes burn or destroy incriminating documents to cover their tracks, as occurred in East Germany, South Korea, South Africa, Egypt, and the Soviet Union. Principle 18 emphasizes the importance of protecting and preserving, inventorying, and analyzing archives of the old regime. It reflects an understanding that archives are keys to advancing accountability, the right to truth, and other elements of a successful transition to peace and/or democracy. After providing a contextual and historical background on Principle 18, this chapter discusses its theoretical framework as well as the ways in which states and third countries have managed archives related to past human rights abuses. It also highlights some areas for improvement in terms of archival practice in transitional periods.

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