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The United Nations Principles to Combat Impunity: A Commentary edited by Haldemann, Frank; Unger, Thomas (22nd March 2018)

Part II The Right to Know, C Preservation of and Access to Archives Bearing Witness to Violations, Principle 15 Measures for Facilitating Access to Archives

Valentina Cadelo, Trudy Huskamp Peterson

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, 2015. All Rights Reserved.date: 15 October 2019

Subject(s):
Right to truth — Collective security — Truth and Reconciliation Commissions

Principle 15 requires States to adopt measures that facilitate access to archives for victims, persons implicated in human rights violations, and individuals undertaking historical research. Access to records/archives means making them available for consultation as a result both of legal authorization and the existence of finding aids. Authorizing access to archives, particularly those of governments, is a political act. After providing a contextual and historical background on Principle 15, this chapter discusses its theoretical framework as well as its implementation, focusing on how international and national courts have taken a variety of positions on access. While the theoretical and best practice framework for access to archives exists, the chapter argues that implementation of Principle 15 is far from satisfactory. It also highlights important challenges that persist due to the reluctance of states to provide access to information, often linked to national security concerns.

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