3 LES ARCHIVES ET LE DROIT DE SAVOIR Actes de la Journée de réflexion organisée à l occasion de la journée mondiale des droits de l Homme et de la journée nationale des Archives par l UNESCO et les Archives nationales de Tunisie Tunis, 10 décembre 2012
4 2 Les observations et les opinions contenues dans cet ouvrage sont de la seule responsabilité de ses auteurs et n impliquent pas l expression d une opinion de la part de l UNESCO. Les appellations employées et la présentation des données dans cet ouvrage n impliquent pas l expression d une opinion quelconque de la part de l UNESCO concernant le statut légal d un pays, d un territoire, d un domaine ou d une ville, de ses autorités ou concernant les limites de ses frontières. Les archives et le droit de savoir Actes de la Journée de réflexion organisée par l UNESCO et les Archives Nationales de Tunisie Tunis, 10 décembre 2012 Edités par Perrine Canavaggio, Conservateur général honoraire du patrimoine Mise en page et impression par AS2COM 14, Rue Tinghir, près Place My Ali Chérif Hassan Rabat Maroc Publiés par le Bureau de l UNESCO pour l Algérie, le Maroc, la Mauritanie et la Tunisie Avenue Aïn Khalouiya Km 5,3 Souissi BP 1777 Rabat Maroc rabat.unesco.org UNESCO 2013
5 Les archives et le droit de savoir «La connaissance par un peuple de l histoire de son oppression appartient à son patrimoine et, comme telle, doit être préservée par des mesures appropriées au nom du devoir incombant à l État de conserver les archives et les autres éléments de preuves se rapportant aux violations des droits de l Homme et du droit humanitaire et de contribuer à faire connaître ces violations. Ces mesures ont pour but de préserver de l oubli la mémoire collective, notamment pour se prémunir contre le développement de thèses révisionnistes et négationnistes.» Commission des droits de l Homme des Nations Unies, Rapport
7 Table des matières Introduction et présentation du programme de l UNESCO, Misako Ito Archival Policies Supporting the Right to Know: From the Management of the Archives of the Former Repressive Regimes to the Implementation of Archival Policies in the Defence of Human Rights, Antonio González Quintana Apartheid s Sensitive Records, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Archives of South Africa, Graham Dominy Balancing Justice, Access and Security, Catherine Geth Accès à l information sur les violations des droits de l homme : Etats-Unis et Amérique Latine, Carlos Osorio Le corpus législatif et réglementaire archivistique en Tunisie à l épreuve de la transition Démocratique, Hedi Jallab Les défis de la législation sur l accès aux archives : la question du secret d Etat, Farah Hached Discours de clôture du Secrétaire général du Gouvernement Recommandations de la conférence Programme de la conférence Biographies des auteurs
8 6 Introduction et présentation du programme de l UNESCO Misako Ito Conseillère pour la Communication et l information, Bureau régional de l UNESCO pour l Algérie, le Maroc, la Mauritanie et la Tunisie Presque deux ans après le 14 janvier 2011, la Tunisie, tout comme les autres pays du monde qui ont connu une histoire de dégradation et de dictature, se retrouve face à son passé, dans une phase de transition pour reconstruire le pays et instaurer un climat de paix et de réconciliation. Dans cette phase capitale de l histoire de la Tunisie où se met en place le dialogue national sur la justice transitionnelle, la préservation et l accès aux archives sont devenus des enjeux politiques majeurs, afin d établir les responsabilités, garantir les réparations, reconstruire l histoire et perpétuer la mémoire collective. C est ce qui a été souligné par l Association tunisienne des gestionnaires des archives lors de la journée d étude organisée sur ce thème le 20 septembre L expérience des pays ex-socialistes, après la chute du Mur de Berlin avait déjà montré le phénomène: la chute de ces régimes a fait apparaître des masses énormes d archives des services de renseignement et de la bureaucratie communiste répressive qu il fallait traiter et rendre accessibles, car ils contenaient les preuves des violations des droits des citoyens. Les 180 kilomètres linéaires de fichiers et dossiers de la STASI, la police secrète de la République Démocratique Allemande, en sont un exemple emblématique. La question de la préservation de ces archives et de leur accès a été alors centrale : elles ont permis d établir des dizaines de milliers de copies de documents prouvant les spoliations dont avaient été victimes certains citoyens sous le régime communiste et rendu possible leur indemnisation. Elles ont également permis l identification et la mise à l écart des agents compromis avec le régime précédent. De nouvelles lois sur les archives ont alors été votées dans ces pays pour rendre accessibles ces documents secrets. S interroger sur ce qui reste de l ancien régime, c est aussi se documenter sur l histoire
9 Les archives et le droit de savoir de la dissidence et développer des politiques archivistiques orientées vers les archives des mouvements d opposition ou des militants des droits de l Homme. En effet, ces archives sont exposées à plus d un titre à la disparition : souvent éparpillées chez des militants, elles ne sont pas pensées comme archives et ne sont par conséquent pas déposées. Or les documents issus de ces organisations sont le contrepoint indispensable des témoignages du pouvoir et toute tentative pour approcher la vérité des événements doit passer par la confrontation des sources. L UNESCO a célébré en 2012 le 20ème anniversaire du programme Mémoire du monde qui vise à faciliter la préservation et l accès au patrimoine documentaire dans le monde. La vision du programme Mémoire du monde est basée sur le principe que le patrimoine documentaire du monde appartient à tous et qu il devrait être entièrement préservé, protégé et accessible de manière permanente et sans obstacle. C est à travers l inscription au Registre international Mémoire du monde - partie la plus visible de ce programme - que l UNESCO attribue et reconnaît l intérêt universel et la valeur exceptionnelle d un patrimoine documentaire, afin d encourager des politiques en faveur de sa préservation et de son accès. Au cours de ces 20 dernières années, le programme Mémoire du monde a inscrit dans son Registre une vingtaine de fonds documentaires qui commémorent des actions qui ont façonné l avenir du monde et illustrent la résistance pour la démocratie, la liberté et le respect des droits de l Homme. Parmi eux on compte : les archives du ghetto de Varsovie, témoins de l Holocauste (1999), les archives des droits de l Homme au Chili (2003), l affaire pénale de l Etat d Afrique de Sud contre Nelson Mandela (2007), les archives pour la vérité, la justice et la mémoire dans la lutte contre le terrorisme d Etat entre 1976 et 1983 en Argentine (2007), les archives de la Terreur du Paraguay (2009), les archives du musée de Tuol Sleng, une ancienne prison de sécurité au Cambodge (2009), et le réseau d information et de désinformation sur le régime militaire au Brésil entre 1964 et 1985 (2011). Leur inscription dans le Registre témoigne de la nécessité de préserver les souvenirs des événements qui sont parfois tragiques ou dérangeants mais qui font partie de la mémoire collective d une nation ou d un peuple et qui doivent être transmis aux générations futures. L ensemble de ces actions de commémoration a été couronné par l adoption par l UNESCO, en octobre 2011, de la Déclaration universelle des Archives qui souligne l importance du rôle des archives dans la mise en pratique de la transparence administrative, de la responsabilité démocratique et de la préservation de la mémoire sociale collective, et reconnaît leur rôle dans la défense des droits de l Homme. Dans ce contexte et à l occasion de la journée mondiale des droits de l Homme le 10 décembre 2012, l UNESCO et les Archives nationales de Tunisie ont proposé une journée de réflexion sur la gestion des archives dans le cadre de la transition démocratique, en présence de la communauté des archivistes tunisiens mais aussi de juristes, historiens, défenseurs des droits de l Homme et experts du groupe «Archives et des droits de l Homme» du Conseil international des Archives. 7
10 8 Quelles archives préserver dans le cadre de la transition démocratique? Quelles sont les instances à impliquer pour assurer leur sauvegarde? Quels sont les critères d évaluation de ces archives? Comment assurer l intégrité de ces fonds? Quelles sont les questions éthiques et déontologiques soulevées par leur sauvegarde, accès et utilisation? Comment traiter les archives des mouvements d opposition ou des militants des droits de l Homme? Où faut-il les conserver? Quels sont les obstacles d accès aux archives en Tunisie aujourd hui? Quel est le rôle des pouvoirs publics et celui des professionnels? Comment mettre en place des politiques archivistiques pour la défense des droits de l homme? De quelles expériences réussies peut-on s inspirer? A travers les témoignages et interventions des archivistes d Espagne, d Amérique latine, d Europe et d Afrique de Sud, cette journée a permis d aborder ces différentes questions et de dresser une série de recommandations pour la mise en place des politiques archivistiques pour la défense des droits de l Homme en Tunisie.
11 Archival Policies Supporting the Right to Know: From the Management of the Archives of the Former Repressive Regimes to the Implementation of Archival Policies in the Defence of Human Rights Antonio González Quintana Deputy Director General, Archives of the Autonomous Region, Madrid Although laws regulating freedom of information have existed since 1776, in the last ten years an unprecedented number of states have adopted Freedom of Information legislation. David Banisar, a well known expert in the field of Freedom of Information, notes that one of the reasons for this proliferation of legislation is the collapse of authoritarianism in the 1980s, and the birth of new democratic states with new constitutions which specifically included a guarantee of the right to information. Such a constitutional guarantee needed new laws on access to information to be passed. The end of dictatorships and the beginning of the long road towards democracy in countries in transition resulted in a series of demands related, directly and indirectly, to the archives of those bodies linked to repression. The demands relate indirectly to such archives, because they are tools indispensable to justice, ordinary or transitional, and because they constitute an essential element in shaping the social memory; but such archives are also directly affected because, when their existence is confirmed, as in the majority of countries in Central or Eastern Europe, there has been a general demand for them to be opened. The opening of the archives formed part of the great social agenda which arose in the Soviet Union and the rest of the European communist countries in the years following The search for truth about the recent past has been, in all these countries, part of the political struggle for a new direction both in the domestic sphere as well as in the field of international relations. Diane Orentlicher, the expert commissioned by the United Nations Commission for Human Rights to come up with proposals for good practice in the struggle against 9
12 10 immunity specified in one of her reports that, in general, states should take measures to ensure that information on human rights violations should be available to the public: Laws governing access to such information are in place in many countries. In view of the potential to improve the access of citizens to the truth about violations of human rights, it is recommended that States which do not yet have laws which permit their citizens to have access to state documents, including those containing information on violations of human rights, begin to promulgate them. The question of legislation on access to archives and human rights has also been discussed over the past years in another important forum: the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, part of the Organization of American States. In 1998, to link with the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the Commission, in its 101st session, recommended that member states adopt legislative measures necessary to make effective the rights to free access to information held in the archives and documents of the State, particularly in cases where investigations are seeking to establish responsibility for international crimes and grave violations of human rights Finally the International Council on Archives has approved recently at its last Congress in Brisbane, Australia, a set of Principles on Access to Archives. These consist of 10 Principles with a commentary explaining each Principle; the Principles and the commentary taken together constitute the statement of professional practice. I would like to comment on two of these principles: 1. The public has the right of access to archives of public bodies. Both public and private entities should open their archives to the greatest extent possible. Access to the archives of government is essential for an informed society. Democracy, accountability, good governance and civic engagement require a legal guarantee that individuals will have access to the archives of public bodies established by national, self-governing territories and local governments, intergovernmental institutions, and any organization and any legal or natural person performing public functions and operating with public funds. All archives of public bodies are open to the public unless they fall under an exception grounded in law. 6. Institutions holding archives ensure that victims of serious crimes under international law have access to archives that provide evidence needed to assert their human rights and to document violations of them, even if those archives are closed to the general public. The Updated Set of Principles for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights through Action to Combat Impunity (2005) of the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights declares that victims of serious crimes under international law have a right to know the truth about the violations. The Principles emphasize the vital role that access to archives plays in learning the truth, holding persons accountable for human right violations, claiming compensation, and defending against charges
13 Les archives et le droit de savoir of human rights violations. The Principles state that each person is entitled to know whether his or her name appears in State archives and, if it does, to challenge the validity of the information by submitting to the archival institution a statement that will be made available by the archivists whenever the file containing the name is requested for research use. Archival institutions obtain and hold the evidence needed to protect human rights and to contest the violation of human rights where serious crimes under international law have been committed. Persons seeking access to archives for human rights purposes are given access to the relevant archives, even if those archives are closed to the general public. The right of access for human rights purposes applies to public archives and, to the extent possible, to private archives. Archives and Human Rights: a link beyond frontiers and generations We often stress the important fact that records generated around political repression have to preserve the memory of peoples because they are an irreplaceable testimony of the repression they suffered. But the most important argument for the preservation of repressive records in the new democratic state takes root in the importance they have for victims affected by repression, since such records are essential in the new political situation for the exercise of certain individual rights. The fight against impunity as a nexus The need for safeguarding records documenting genocide, crimes against humanity or other Human Rights violations was considered by the UN Human Rights Commission, at least initially, for judicial processes in their different models (transitional justice, criminal courts, International Tribunals...). Thus archives and records became one of the main tools to be used for trying perpetrators and their accomplices and for restoring the dignity of victims. This conviction was acknowledged in several resolutions of the UN Commission on Human Rights 1 and also by different agreements inside the International Council on Archives. At its thirty-seventh session, in Cape Town in 2003, the International Conference of the Round Table on Archives (CITRA) passed a resolution on archives and human rights violations in which, taking into account the fundamental importance of archives in all States as evidence supporting victims rights for reparation; as an essential element of collective memory; as a means of determining responsibilities for rights violations; and as a basis for reconciliation and universal justice, it recommended that government authorities and international organizations should facilitate the effective exercise of the right to know, by taking steps to ensure the preservation and conservation of archives of all kinds which document these crimes, make the existence of these archival fonds known and 1. UN Commission on Human Rights Resolutions E/CN.4/1998/53; E/CN.4/1999/34; E/CN.4/2000/68 and E/ CN.4/2001/70 11
14 12 facilitate access to them by adapting or creating adequate legal frameworks for their accessibility, and ensuring that these arrangements respect both privacy and the need to make the truth known 2. Reports and statements on archives and records produced by UN Human Rights bodies We could say that this sequence of events was initiated by Louis Joinet, Special Reporter of the Sub-Commission between 1996 and Establishing responsibility for human rights violations, allowing justice to be done and victims to know the truth, requires evidence. People tend, however, to overlook the obvious point that much of the evidence comes from archives 3. The inalienable right to the truth; the duty to remember and the victim s right to know were measures contained in the set of Principles for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights through action to combat Impunity. His report 4 contained five specific measures aimed at preserving and accessing to archives bearing witness to violations, namely: Principle13.Measures for the preservation of archives; Principle14.Measures for facilitating access to archives; Principle15.Cooperation between archive departments and the courts and extrajudicial commissions of inquiry; Principle16.Specific measures relating to archives containing names; Principle17.Specific measures related to the restoration or of transition to democracy and/or peace. Joinet s report would be updated in 2005 by Diane Orentlicher, covering a great number of experiences accumulated in the fight against impunity during the years since the initial report was produced. The archival approach to Human Rights: from the care of archives as a measure of Cultural Heritage preservation to the use of archives and records as tools for supporting collective and individual rights. In parallel to the United Nations, the international archival organizations faced the question of the archives of the former repressive regimes in the context of the collapse of the Communist European countries and the end of the African and Latin American dictatorships. However, they were thinking more of the safeguarding of a rich documentary heritage in danger than of the use of records for defending Human Rights. However, the working group created by the General Assembly of The International Council on Archives at its CITRA Conference in Mexico (1993), based on the experience Louis Joinet and Perrine Canavaggio, Les archives contre l oubli, Le Monde, 23 June 2004, 4. UN doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1997/20/Rev.1.
15 Les archives et le droit de savoir of its members, decided to put the main emphasis not on the heritage value of documents, but on the importance of using these documents for the exercise of collective and individual rights, among others: Collective rights: Free choice of the model of transition... Right to memory... Right to the truth... Right to justice... Right to know those responsible for crimes against human rights Individual rights: Right to exoneration and rehabilitation... Right to know the whereabouts of family members who disappeared in the time of repression... Right of everyone to know what information is held on them in the archives of the repression... Right to historical and scientific research... Freedom of political prisoners and freedom of conscience... Right to compensation and redress for damages suffered by victims of the repression... Right to have confiscated goods restored The report has been updated in Archives in transition When we talk about Archives and Human Rights in countries in transition to Democracy we usually forget the main goal: To get open societies with transparency laws, efficient records management systems and a good archives administration. But until the new and democratic archives system has been created and new laws promulgated, a country needs to face its past and, for this task, records are required. Extraordinary and transitional measures must be taken in archival policy, and this must be done considering archives not as cultural institutions, but as juridical institutions, as tools of Transitional Justice. Why do governments need an archival policy in transition periods? Transition models include concrete measures for Transitional Justice such as: criminal prosecutions of those responsible for atrocities at both national and international courts; the creation of truth commissions; the establishment of screening mechanisms 5. Antonio González Quintana, Archival Policies in the Protection of Human Rights: an updated and fuller version of the report prepared by UNESCO and the International Council on Archives (1995), concerning the management of the archives of the state security services of former repressive regimes. Paris,
16 14 for government clearance and the development of measures for the rehabilitation of victims or for reparation or compensation to them. Policies of memory and archive policies Policies of memory or policies for dealing with the past are not the same as archival policies. Public memory policies are usually designed for the short-term while, in general, archival policies are designed for the long term and are often very stable, ensuring confidence in archives as entities that base their evidential credibility on permanence and neutrality. As we shall try to illustrate, the latter are necessary to render them effective. We can say that archival policies are essential, and sometimes decisive in the way with which we deal with our recent past. Except for the paradigmatic amnesic model of the Spanish transition, in almost all other transition models we find concrete measures of Transitional Justice. If we want to implement such measures of transitional justice with a guarantee of success, archives and records are fundamental to that success. There is, moreover, a strong connection between archives policies and models of political transition. The existence and retention of records and archives documenting the horror of human rights violations and the professional management of these documents has a decisive influence on the final outcome of the specific model of transition in all cases. By contrast, the political desire to forget or ignore the past, has dramatic consequences not only for citizens but also for records and archives. The lack of documentation limits the choice for transitional justice organizations. So the first recommendation in this regard must be that records concerning human rights violations must be preserved; not only records produced by repressive bodies or other public institutions, but also those records produced by Human Rights organizations, political parties, trade unions and other civil society organizations of opposition. Transitional Archival Policies When direct sources on the violation of human rights linked to political repression have been preserved, should they be accorded the same treatment as conventional documents? Is it advisable to follow the same route in the archival system adjusted to their life cycle and traditional retention schedules? The answer must clearly be «no.» As it has been done in most of the transition process, it is necessary to take immediate decisions to provide the necessary information needed to develop those memory policies that society chooses. These records should be made accessible either by creating new centers or by using pre-existing archives. In the first case, ordering their admission to public records institutions that are considered appropriate: National Archives, Provincial Archives In the second case, by creating special archives for dealing with such documents. At the same time, there is an urgent need to create and regulate the use of specific
17 Les archives et le droit de savoir professional standards for use in special scenarios as the need arises and in which the usual and general practices are inappropriate. On the issue of access, for example, the study of documents that testify to the violation of human rights cannot be limited by their rarity or uniqueness in terms of the criteria usually contained in free access laws in democracies such as: Official Secrets, Freedom of Information, Data Protection or Defense of Privacy. Depending on the objectives in Transitional Justice process set up by memory policies, special archival policies must be designed for the transition. In any process of democratization each country will in the end, require new institutions, new laws and public archives systems in all administrative areas. Besides archival reform in general, the regulation of freedom of information and access to public ownership documents are essential pillars of democratic states. But for reasons of urgency, we must start if the records produced by the former Security Services have been preserved, by creating the specialized and specific archives mentioned (always with the view that entities must be temporary and that the holdings that they manage must end integrated in the General Archives of the country) or order the placement in the public files of those document collections that bear witness to the violation of human rights and to make specific laws governing the use thereof. The second main recommendation is that records documenting the violation of human rights must be available for the exercise of democracy; in first place, to guarantee the exercise of collective rights such as the Right to Know, (for instance, who was responsible for crimes against human rights)the Right to Truth, the Right to Justice, the Right to Memory and the right to freely choose the model of political transition. In second place, to give effect to individual rights, (such as the right to exculpation and rehabilitation, the right to know the whereabouts of relatives who have gone missing during the period of repression, the right to know), to be exercised by any person, whether or not there are any data files on them in the enforcement agencies. Then there are the rights to scientific historical research and to compensation and damages suffered by the victims of repression, or the right to the restitution of confiscated property. This set of rights can only fully exist if the records of the organs of the repressive regime (including those of the totalitarian parties that supported them) are well kept, are subject to democratic legislation and pass immediately into the custody of new authorities in control of the political transition. But it is not axiomatic that it will be existing archives and archivists who assume responsibility for these archival policies of transition. The low credibility that public institutions have in some transition countries, may include their national archives. These may not be sufficiently renewed, nor professionally managed and strengthened in resources after the end of repressive regimes which leads to the search for alternative bodies for managing records relating to the violation of rights. Often these new entities 15
18 16 have been promoted by militants of the cause of democracy or human rights as the best way to make clear the commitment to the victims and justice. Nevertheless, the archival documents produced by natural or legal persons in the exercise of their functions, powers or activities, should be treated professionally, maintaining their context and respecting their provenance and original order. Archival management cannot follow the same techniques as documentation centers, where raw data accumulation around the theme defines the demand for information; regardless of the characteristics of the document containing the data, or its authenticity and how it has been generated or reached the dossier. To create public bodies managed by professional archivists with the control and participation of human rights agencies, or associations of victims and former opposition organizations could be a good solution. But, ultimately, professional archivists who know how to treat records properly, and who are aware that their value as evidence must mediate in the treatment of the documents. When taken out of their context, most of the documents illustrating rights violations, repression and political violence lose much of their value. The option of using professional and specialized institutions for large-scale records of former political police (e.g. the Stasi case in Germany or the KGB in the former Soviet Union) is highly recommended to increase the use of these documents. But that action should be temporary and the final destination of political police records must be the National Archives once the maximum period of administrative use by the institutions of transitional justice expires. It cannot be considered justified, in any case, to create special archives for managing low-volume documentary collections when there are few official documents especially in countries that have not been able to locate the records of their former state security agencies. Nor should these records be put together with a small volume of books, newspapers, collections of pamphlets, newspaper clippings, reproductions (or worse!) originals of documents from other archives and oral sources in thematic centers. Here they can serve only as museum exhibits with their archival provenance and value becoming unrecognizable. In such cases, it makes more sense to incorporate these small collections into the general archives. It is also highly recommended that efforts be made towards the creation of reference centers on the sources of repression while keeping records in the most appropriate archival institution. What is critically important is putting the records into the service of justice, of truth commissions, of victims and the public in order to provide evidence to the courts or to enable the exercise of the habeas doctrine, data input or certification that must support victims in submitting their demands for restitution.
19 Apartheid s Sensitive Records, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Archives of South Africa Graham Dominy Former National Archivist of South Africa would like to thank UNESCO, the working group Archives and Human Rights of the I ICA and the National Archives of Tunisia for inviting me to address this important symposium. The events in Tunisia in 2011 gripped the imagination of the world and I add my voice to those of the millions of others in wishing the Tunisian people strength, courage and endurance in the realisation of their dreams of national transformation. Coming from a country that underwent an epic transformation eighteen years ago, I feel privileged and indeed renewed, being a guest in Tunisia, another country in exciting transition and bursting with opportunities to grasped with both hands. Ex Africa semper aliquid novi Introduction: The Principles The Right to Know is one of the most broad and fundamental human rights. In many ways it frames the relationship between the citizen and the State. In the South African Constitution this is encapsulated in the Bill of Rights as the right to Freedom of Expression which includes: (a) freedom of the press and other media; (b) freedom to receive or impart information or ideas (c) freedom of artistic creativity; and (d) academic freedom and freedom of scientific research The Constitution also provides a right of Access to Information which stipulates that Everyone has the right of access to: (a) any information held by the State; and (b) any information that is held by another person that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights 17
20 18 These rights are all implemented through laws passed by Parliament and, with the exception of two, - the rights to life and human dignity -, the rights are not absolute. Administering and interpreting them in the archives context requires a delicate balancing act. The ICA s Principles of Access to Archives give professional operational guidelines which are of great value to archivists, but each national archives organisation will find that it has its own particular issues to address. Trudy Huskamp Peterson speaking in 2011, emphasized that in addition to a Right to Know there is a duty on governments to support the Right to Remember. Without supporting the critical services that are provided by the National Archives, governments cannot support their citizens Right to Remember. At this symposium we are focusing specifically on the challenges of applying these principles in a country undergoing a profound political transformation. The National Archives of Tunisia is a key institution in this process of transition and an equally important institution for maintaining the record of the processes and continuities in Tunisia s ancient and distinguished history. Transition and democratisation on the one hand and continuity and preservation on the other. This is part of the balancing act for Tunisian archivists. It is often difficult for archivists to get politicians and decision-makers to understand the needs and processes of their national archives. This is particularly so in a time of transition when the national archives runs the risk of being seen as irrelevant in a forward-looking newly regenerated political structure, or, perhaps worse, being seen as the last vestige of the discredited old order, or ancien regime. This is, therefore, a time when the National Archives of Tunisia will need all its professional integrity and commitment to obtaining and preserving both historical and recent records for the future of the country and all its people. Of all the servants of the state, archivists, in particular, have a dual responsibility: not only to the government of today (like every other official), but the archivist also has a duty and responsibility to the future. Not only must the archivists preserve and give access to the records of the past to the audience of today, but the archivists must acquire and preserve today s records for future generations. I hope that what I have to say will assist the institution in fulfilling its legal and professional archival mandates in its complicated current environment. In April 2007, Sarah Tyacke, the former Keeper of Public Records and National Archivist of the United Kingdom, addressed a conference of archivists at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa and stated a very simple, but profound archival truth: First, get the record! To which, in these tumultuous times, must be added another imperative: Do not lose the record! To fulfil this mandate, the National Archives needs to be trusted by citizens and the state and resourced by the state. Losing the record can happen because the agencies holding the record will not trust the archives, or there is destruction before transfer or even neglect after archiving because of lack of resources.