Background Information

Archivists without Borders (AwB) is an international network of associated chapters in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, France, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. Founded in Barcelona, Spain in 1998, its main objective is to promote cooperative efforts among archivists to provide aid and resources to countries whose documentary heritage is in danger of disappearing and/or of suffering irreversible damage. A particular emphasis is placed on the protection of human rights and the intrinsic role of archives in this process.

AwB International is governed by an International Charter (2008) and by the Regulations of the International Coordination Council of AwB International (2009).


9 responses to “Background Information

  1. The content above applies only to the international organization. Will there be any inclusion of the U.S. chapter’s background here, and how it ties in with the international AwB – the purpose for forming a U.S. chapter, date/location of founding, governing body? A brief statement of course, since the mission section with go more in-depth.

  2. Anne-Marie Viola

    I agree with Angela. A second paragraph should state the founding of the U.S. Chapter and perhaps give a brief history of how it was formed (who was involved, coordination with the parent chapter, impetus — any particular issue or event which sparked the interest). Although this may make the text sound less formal, I think it would be of interest to potential members, and is a common tone used in online publications today.

  3. Anne-Marie Viola

    I just realized that if the author’s intent is to give background on the parent organization (AwB), perhaps it’s not the text that should be changed, but the label — from “Background” to something like “Parent Organization”. “Background” infers history and maybe an explanation of the decision to form a U.S. chapter, which as Angela points out, isn’t included here.

  4. The three comments to date all resonat with me. The Background statement today is really of the larger organization. That is fine as long as there is some inclusion of the U.S. chapter intent, reason for formation, etc.

  5. I would suggest synthesizing the two suggestions: change the head of the initial introduction to something like “Parent Organization” and then include under the “Background” header information about the U.S. chapter. People will want to know if the mission of the U.S. chapter is only to assist other countries or if it will extend to address underrepresented groups in the U.S. as well.

  6. Nicole Roberts

    I agree that there needs to be information added about the U.S. Chapter in this section. I’m not sure about “Background Information” for the heading. “About Us” seems to be a pretty popular and intuitive term for users. The headings “History” or “Establishment” have also come to mind.

  7. Nicole Roberts

    Also, I would remove the “and/or” and just put “or” in the second sentence of the first paragraph as that is the way it appears in the Mission Statement.

  8. I agree with the comments above. I would just like to comment on the last sentence: “A particular emphasis is placed on the protection of human rights and the intrinsic role of archives in this process.” I would change this to something like this: “This objective is complemented by efforts to support human rights and promote accountability through the archives”. The function of accountability in archives is crucial, but it takes on a whole new level of importance when making an effort to protect humans rights. It is important that “accountability” be included. I also think that removing the word “intrinsic” makes the statement stronger. Intrinsic implies that a quality is innate. I’m not sure archives are immutably and always connected to the human rights process. Important, yes. And archives should be involved when possible, but defending human rights can happen in a number of ways, from public protest, to peacekeeping efforts. I also think that there is a divide in the archives profession over how active, especially regarding issues that could be political, archivists should be. I think it’s fair to say that all of us who are commenting on this certainly take the view that archives have a moral and ethical responsibility to get involved and stop injustice, yet, I am sure that all in the profession hold this view. So instead of sounding pedantic and asserting that the entire archives community should be or is dedicated to the cause of human rights, I think it’s important to make it clear that this statement can/should only speak to functions/responsibilities of AWB. Either replacing “intrinsic” with “vital” or following a more complete revision of that last sentence as I have suggested, would help.

  9. I agree with James, the concept of accountability is an important one, and perhaps not something that always comes to mind when thinking of the connection between archives and human rights abuses. Also, as much as it would be amazing for the entire archives community to be human rights champions, I am hesitant to make a blanket statement about archivists. Is there a way to speak of archives/archivists as a concept/function rather than an individual institution or person?
    “The emphasis of AwB is placed on the protection of human rights and the promotion of accountability through the preservation and accessibility of politically and historically sensitive records.”

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