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Part II The Right to Know, A General Principles, Principle 3 The Duty to Preserve Memory

Julia Viebach

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

Right to truth — Evidence

Principle 3 is concerned with the duty to preserve memory, which falls under the rubric of ‘the right to know’. This principle recognizes the role of collective memory in transitional processes, attests to a people’s right to know ‘the history of its oppression’ as part of its heritage, and calls upon the state’s duty to preserve archives and other evidence. This chapter first provides a historical background and an overview of the contemporary context in which Principle 3 is applied before outlining its normative framework, focusing on case law and truth commissions. It also analyzes the applications of the Principle in practice and argues that the duty to preserve memory has only implicitly been addressed under either symbolic reparations in truth-seeking processes or under satisfaction in jurisprudence. It contends that this approach over-simplifies the collective and societal level and neglects the dangers and complexity of memorialization in transitional contexts.

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