The Right to Know is a Fundamental to the Right to Justice

Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human RightsSummary 2009

The recognition that archives and archivists play a central role in undergirding human rights has grown over the last decade. A key event was the adoption in 1997 by the Commission on Human Rights of the Set of Principles for the protection and promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1997/20/Rev.1, annex II).

Pursuant to Commission resolution 2004/72, the Principles were updated in 2005 (E/CN.4/2005/102/Add.1).

The Principles emphasize that a person has a right to know the truth about what happened to him/her and that society as a whole has both a right to know and a responsibility to remember. As part of the measures a State must undertake to protect the right to know, the Principles require the State to “ensure the preservation of, and access to, archives concerning violations of human rights and humanitarian law” (ibid., principle 5). – Right to the truth