37th Annual Meeting of the European Coordination Committee on Human Rights Documentation

On June 16-17, 2016, over 25 human rights data professionals (information managers, librarians, documentalists, archivists, lawyers and activists) gathered in the Research Room of the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives at Central European University (CEU) in Budapest for the 37th annual meeting of the European Coordination Committee on Human Rights Documentation (ECCHRD). ECCHRD is an open, informal network of Europe-based institutions and organizations producing, recording, managing and publishing human rights information.

During the annual meeting, members discuss professional issues they are concerned with and learn about new developments in the field and in peer organizations, as well as networking and initiating collaborative initiatives with colleagues. In order to remind ourselves of our moral obligations and social responsibilities, this year’s meeting went beyond the usual scenario and we assessed two burning human rights topics and their impact on our profession: the local aspects of the European refugee crisis and rights abuses, atrocities, and war crimes in current conflict zones.

The panel session on refugees included presentations on the dysfunctions of the Hungarian asylum system and local authorities’ response to the escalating crisis; the protection of refugees’ rights by means of an inclusive, age, gender and diversity sensitive strategy; research on migrants’ cultural objects and material objects left behind by refugees in Hungary; and a unique learning initiative for refugees that is being implemented at CEU.

Field researchers and activists conducting fact-finding missions in current hot spots (Syria, Ukraine and Crimea) took the audience through various methods of collecting, analyzing and publishing evidence on the destruction of cultural property, grave human rights abuses such as arbitrary arrest, torture, persecution, intimidation and indiscriminate killing of civilian population, and other war crimes.

Besides these topics, we had the much-needed and always welcome updates and project presentations from members. We were offered the latest of HUDOC, the case-law database of the European Court of Human Rights and the Beta version of Uwazi Docs, a web-based open source solution for building and sharing large document collections from HURIDOCS. We also brainstormed on displaying hate crime data and documentation on tolerance and non-discrimination in relation to the planned re-design of ODIHR’s two relevant websites.

Colleagues at Blinken OSA put together a panel on the role of audiovisual materials in promoting and protecting human rights, with special focus on human rights-sensitive cataloging of television broadcasts, the creative use of archival footage in various forms of visual culture, and a human rights documentary film festival. As part of the audiovisual panel, we screened the documentary film Room without A View: Inside the Processing of the Yugoslav TV Monitoring produced by the Yugoslavia Archive Project team on the history, methodology and vision of the project.

Participants agreed to improve internal communication within the network, redesign ECCHRD’s website, where members will be able to publish updates from their organizations, and expand the network by inviting new colleagues for the upcoming annual meeting.

The annual meeting also included social events such as an informal guided tour of the Goldberger House, the permanent home of OSA, and a collective dinner at a local restaurant.

The full program of the annual meeting is available here.