Human rights at OSA Archivum



“In those countries where massive violence, genocide, torture, extreme abuses of human rights, massacres, and war crimes have occurred, there is a growing sense that the pain and suffering associated with these happenings must be acknowledged and confronted. […] Another vitally important means of remembering the past is a conscious effort to preserve primary documents relating to human rights abuses.” (Louis Bickford)


Human rights collections at OSA consist of extensive and diverse documentation on censorship, freedom of information, dissident movements, constitution-making processes, state sponsored terrorism, forced migration, ethnic conflicts, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and genocide. Testimonies, fact-finding mission files, forensic reports, media clippings, correspondence, war correspondents’ notebooks, satellite surveillance images and maps, as well as documentary films and raw footage are available to give unprecedented insight into life in forced labor camps under communism, the trial of former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauseşcu, the situation of the Marsh Arabs under Saddam Hussein, the treatment of refugees, landmine victims or former child soldiers in various African countries, or the genocide in Srebrenica and the identification process of the victims.


Donors of human rights collections are international NGOs and bodies, and private persons including Index on Censorship, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF), the International Monitor Institute, the UN Expert Commission on Investigating War Crimes in the former Yugoslavia, Human Rights Watch and the journalist David Rohde.


The digital Balkan archive (DBA) will bring together information on archival material covering over half a century of the Balkan's history, from the post-WWII period through the ethnic conflicts of the 1990s to the civilian, economic, and political reconstruction of the region.


The DBA will include a special access point to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Court Records Database, through which OSA's researchers will be able to get instant access to ICTY's public records and examine them in the historical context offered by other relevant collections in OSA's holdings.


By grouping the relevant material in a thematic cluster, OSA is creating an easily accessible documentary resource aimed at facilitating academic research, international investigations, and criminal court proceedings. The DBA will be used as the basis of the course Archives, Evidence, and Human Rights, offered by OSA to the Human Rights Program of the Legal Studies Department at CEU, and will be an indispensable resource for the Research Center on Genocide Prevention and Conflict Resolution to be established at CEU.


Projects that interest us generally explore new methods of collecting and publishing human rights data. We have participated, among others, in the Benetech Company’s initiative to develop the Martus software, which allows human rights activists working under difficult and dangerous field conditions to securely send encrypted sensitive information to a safe server set up at OSA.


In a more recent project to visualize geo-referenced archival material, human rights data extracted from the PHR Forensic Reports were combined with online technology, thus offering a map-based access to these documents and creating the possibility of clustering them with other relevant sources.


Exhibits in the Galeria Centralis, along with film screenings and performances, regularly put on display OSA’s own archival holdings and research material from partner institutions. Past exhibits on human rights topics included: an historical retrospective on the activities of IHF; Forced Bathing in Hungary; The Divide (on the effects of the security barrier erected between Israel and the Palestinian Territories); Raoul Wallenberg: One Man Can Make A Difference (with an online version displayed in Second Life); and the most recent Srebrenica-Exhumation (a forensic reconstruction of the 1995 genocide).



Theses by former CEU students and other topics that our former grantees have worked on while researching at OSA include: Human Rights Violations During the Sovietization of Armenia ◙ The Reception of Andrei Sakharov’s Texts by Human Rights Movements in Eastern Europe ◙ The Relationship Between Human Rights Movements in the Balkans and Existing Social and Cultural Models of Women’s Behavior ◙ Censorship Mechanisms in Central and Eastern Europe During Communism ◙ The Efforts of the International Community to Solve the Emerging Ethnic Conflicts Resulting from the Dissolution of the Former Yugoslavia ◙ Intellectual Dissidents in Romania, 1977 – 1989 ◙ The Systematic Discrimination of Roma and Criminal Justice Reform in Hungary: A Critical Sociological Approach ◙ Media as a Weapon: The Role of the Media in Ethnic Conflicts. Case Study: Bosnia-Herzegovina ◙


How can you get involved? find a topic for your thesis in our holdings and do research at OSA ◙ apply for an intern position to work on human rights material under the guidance of our archivists ◙ volunteer for the Verzio International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival to be the first to watch recent documentaries ◙ bring your own idea on a possible exhibit to us and become its curator ◙ attend other public programs (lectures and conferences) at OSA ◙




Csaba Szilágyi, szilagyc AT

Iván Székely, szekelyi AT / 1051 Arany János utca 32.