How Librarians Work With Human Rights in Europe


Documenting and showcasing human rights was firmely on the agenda when I attended the 39th meeting of the European Co-ordination Committee on Human Rights Documentation (ECCHRD) last week.

Among the presentations of this year’s meeting,  there was a great focus on Central Asia and the former Soviet Union, including presentations from:

  • Umida Niyazova, Director, Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights, Germany, who talked about Child and forced labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton sector and how to document this human rights violations.
  • Hanna Yanova, Legal Analyst, Eastern Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives, Ukraine who presented about Documenting Sexual and Gender Based Violence during the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. Hanna is also and old master student from the master program here in Lund.
  • Uguloy Boboeva, Lawyer,Office of civil freedoms, Tajikistan, who presented The Office of Civil Freedoms’ experience in monitoring the armed forces.
  • Aigerim Kamidola, Officer, Feminita, Kazakhstan, who talked about Challenges to documenting and monitoring human rights: bringing cases of LBTQ women in Kazakhstan. Aigerim is a lawyer who graduated from Gothenburg University and who visited the Institute before her university time.

It’s really intresting to hear about all of these projects, showing how much is done all around the world to showcase human rights abuses, especially providing insights into human rights problems rarely on the agenda, and also as inspiration as they described various interesting ways to document these to the aftermath who works in places that maybe lack all of the technical backbone.

The ECCHRD meeting was in Warsaw, organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE – ODIHR). The ECCHRD is an open network of Europe-based organisations and institutions producing or hosting human rights information.

Every year they have a meeting of librarians, documentation and communication workers and other people working with human rights documentation. We hosted the 30th anniversary meeting nine years ago.

These meetings have for a long time been the best venue to build up and maintain good relations with other European libraries who work with human rights.

We also had a very interesting discussion about repositories and software, which I think may be relavant to many of our projects, as this is becoming more and more sought after. Here I think it is important that we choose a model used by many partners so that we can benefit from each other. A good example here is the Global Campus Open Knowledge Repository.