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n Mousaion - Archives, accountability, human rights and good governance : where is the nexus?

Volume 30, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0027-2639
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Abstract

Human rights are "rights" and freedoms to which all human beings are entitled. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 1, declares the freedom of all human beings. However, history is littered with examples of the gross abuse of human rights and a persistent refusal on the part of those in public office to accept accountability for such acts of abuse, a fact that reflects negatively on good governance. It is in light of the above, that it is argued here that records can be used to protect people from abuse of their rights, especially at the level of governance. The United Nations and the Donor Community have come up with important principles of good governance, which include consensus, participatory engagement, following the "rule of law", effective and efficient governance, and accountability and transparency. In most cases, due to a lack of proper recordkeeping, it is very difficult for the leaders of a community to be accountable and transparent, and this often leads to an abuse of the rights of the people. The thrust of this article is that good governance, accountability and the protection of human rights are underpinned by sound records management practices. We further argue that records management does not only assist in tracing the actions of those who are, or were in public offices, but it can also be used as a deterrent to human rights abuses. Literature that underscores the inevitable, yet overlooked, role of archives as pillars of accountability, human rights and good governance is critically reviewed, with international examples.

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/content/mousaion/30/2/EJC144282
2012-01-01
2016-12-10

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