The project #MemoriasSituadas is introduced here. It is organized in the following sections
#MemoriasSituadas is an interactive map in permanent update that covers different Sites of Memory related to serious human rights violations around the world.
With this, the CIPDH-UNESCO aims to raise awareness about how different communities examine their traumatic past by showcasing diversity, uniqueness and similarities in the way we “deal with remembrance” and make history known to new generations.
A Map for Memory
The 20th century left a sad repertoire of serious human rights violations committed in the form of massacres and genocides all around the world. Many of these serious abuses to human dignity were committed in a warlike context, others under the rule of authoritarian regimes. Ethnic groups, religious groups and political opponents found death in the form of subjection and extermination that in many cases find an undeniable and brutal antecedent in the colonial slave system.
Some of these serious violations become part of the universal collective memory and find “shelter” in study programs, museums or a wide range of cultural productions; others, not a few, have fallen into oblivion o are only remembered by the communities directly affected by the impact of such pain, communities or small groups of survivors who often carry on their backs the hard work of remembrance in adverse contexts, facing the generalized indifference or the obstinate denial of what has happened.
The effort to keep a record of what happened, to keep the memory of pain alive and for its message to transcend the present and reach future generations, the ones that did not witness the events, is powerfully expressed through the so-called “sites of memory”. Museums, archives, monuments, rituals, songs, celebrations, make up, among many others, that wide and diverse spectrum of human creations aimed at keeping as well as conveying the memory. Devices that, as Pierre Nora teaches us, “are born and live from the feeling that there is no spontaneous memory” and from the clear conscience “that if the memories they keep were truly lived, they would be worthless.”
The Sites of Memory are part of the tangible and intangible heritage of communities. They are constructions where it is possible to see, when attentively observed, not only the creativity and singularity of the ways chosen to address the mourning for what was violently taken away, but also the tensions between memory and oblivion that go through the fabric of those societies, what is feared to forget, what is promised to remember.
The International Center for the Promotion of Human Rights (CIPDH-UNESCO) has undertaken to collect these Sites of Memory associated to serious human rights violations spread around the wold by building an interactive map, without pretending be exhaustive, to highlight the meaning and importance of these sites for groups or communities that have created or promoted them.
This project also aims to compare different memorialization processes, contributing in turn to raise awareness about the importance of protection and dissemination of this unique cultural heritage, in its tangible and intangible dimensions, promoting the knowledge of initiatives while helping to make the different groups, organizations, social movements and state bodies that intervene in their production and conservation visible.
To carry out this task, the CIPDH-UNESCO has convened an Advisory Council integrated by specialists from different fields, in charge of selecting, according to previously established themes and criteria, the sites to be included in the map.
The construction of this Map should be understood as a platform under permanent construction, that periodically will be adding new sites until achieving an Atlas that is as inclusive as possible; thus, failure to include a site of memory would not at all mean that it is not recognized for its historical, political or cultural relevance.
“The Sites of Memory are part of the tangible and intangible heritage of communities.”
The serious human rights violations
The characterization of serious human rights violations arises from the international need to establish responsibilities after periods of violence and/or conflicts characterized by crimes committed by or with the acquiescence of the state system against the population, where the fundamental rights were violated.
The term was first used in Resolution 1235 (XLII) of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, dated 6 June 1967, without providing a rigorous definition but identifying certain behaviors that would determine it.
In 2001, the United Nations General Assembly issued Resolution A/RES/56/83, drafted by the International Law Commission in relation to the “Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts”, whose Article 40 sets forth that a breach of such an obligation is serious if it involves a gross or systematic failure, by the responsible State, to fulfil an obligation arising under a peremptory norm of
international human rights law.
Although the initiatives related to memory boost multiple meanings and representations in the community involved, which is why they do not belong exclusively to one category, we have developed a classification in order to make the search for information easier. There is a wide variety and there are multiple combinations of Sites of Memory linked to serious human rights violations and recognized by a group, a community and/or a State that pursues a claim.
The project will focus on the following:
An archive is a set of documents, in any format or support, that have been produced in an organized way and/or assembled by a person, family or public or private entity in the exercise of its activity and kept by its creators or successors for their own needs, or given to a competent archive institution based on its archival value.
The immaterial or intangible cultural heritage refers to customs, knowledge, rituals, traditions, music, dances, handicraft techniques, expressions, practices, uses, representations and expressions that make up the identity of a community.
A monument is an architectural or sculptural creation, usually large, that honors a memorable person or event and that acquires cultural significance over time.
A museum is a permanent institution at the service of society and its development, open to the public, that acquires, preserves, studies, disseminates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage related to science and art or culturally important objects for the development of human knowledge for the purposes of education, study and reflection.
A site is a space of memory that has traces of terrible past events and that allows linking history with the present through pedagogical actions, dissemination and cultural activities.
Serious human rights violations have been classified in four categories to make consultation of the map easier. The themes are related to the definitions that international human rights law suggests based on existing cases, but also takes contributions from social sciences as they do not respond exclusively to cases that have been dealt with in court.
The 1926 Slavery Convention defines slavery as “the state or condition of an individual in relation to which the attributes of property rights or some of them are exercised.” This concept was broadened in 1956 by the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery. Based on a modern approach, slavery and similar practices are defined by institutions and/or customs where there are control and property elements to which victims of slavery are subjected by another human being usually by means of threat. These include some degree of restriction to freedom of movement and/or on personal belongings. The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children defines trafficking in persons as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Said exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”
Genocide and/or Mass Crimes
Genocide is defined in Article 6 of the Rome Statute and Article 2 of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: a) Killing members of the group; b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” Two elements must concur: the physical element (the acts committed) and the mental element (the intent). For genocide to exist, evidence must show that the party committing the act had the intent to physically destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. It must also be proved that victims were attacked deliberately based on the fact that they belonged or were presumed to belong to one of the four groups protected and not based on their individual characteristics. In certain situations, some of these elements appear but they do not constitute a genocide as we know it. Instead, said events are deemed mass crimes. They are used as a tool to spread fear, eliminate the identity of the oppressed group and impose that of the oppressor.
Serious Violations in the Context of Armed Conflicts
Serious offenses committed in the context of armed conflicts are concrete acts (listed in the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I) known as war crimes, a term that applies to both internal and international conflicts. In order to limit its effects, International Humanitarian Law seeks to, on the one hand, limit the right of the Parties in conflict to freely choose methods and means of combat and, on the other, protect the people that do not participate or have stopped participating in hostile acts. War crimes include willful attacks against civilians, pillage, rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy and the use of children under 15 years old for their active participation in hostile acts.
Serious Violations in the Context of Political persecution
This is a state action committed in a systematic way that represses, abuses and subjects individuals or dissident groups to harassment based on the fact that they are considered a threat to existing power relations. Exercising violence also aims to discipline the rest of society, and therefore act as exemplary actions, for the purpose of letting society repress itself in the exercise of liberty. The use of political violence at the service of the elimination of political opponents and the intimidation of the entire population through several repressive mechanisms was a characteristic of dictatorships, totalitarianism and similar regimes that marked the international politics and history of the 20th century.
The sites of memory included in #MemoriasSituadas fulfill at least 2 of the following 3 criteria:
i) They are a testimony of serious human rights violations;
ii) They make serious human rights violations known and contribute to the memory of these events
iii) They are linked to current practices related to memory performed by different actors.
The sites of memory included in this project also fulfill the values of peace and the democratic principles promoted and stated in the UNESCO Constitution in 1945.
Graciela Karababikian (general coordination); Grégoire Champenois (research coordination); Angeles Anzovino, Stella Chignac, Lorena Díaz and Guillermo Gatti (research); Marina Guimpel (legal content advice) and Pedro Arias (edition).
The CIPDH-UNESCO has convened a group of specialists and experts to contribute to the conceptual design of this project. Find below a brief introduction of each member:
National Director of Cultural Assets and Sites of the Argentine Secretariat of Culture. She has also worked as a teacher of Museology and Heritage Preservation in several educational centers and universities in Argentina. She has worked for the National Directorate of Museums of the Argentine Secretariat of Culture and has worked as General Coordinator of the National Directorate of Heritage and Museums.
Language and Literature Professor at Universidad Nacional de Rosario. Current Secretary of Human
Rights at Universidad Nacional de Rosario, teacher of the Seminar “Memory and Human
Rights” and member of the Academic Council of the Master’s Course in Cultural Studies at
Universidad Nacional de Rosario. He has been Director of the Museo de la Memoria de Rosario (2002-
2014) and member of the International Advisory Council of the Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica
Architect and PhD in History (Universidad de Buenos Aires – Argentina). He is an independent researcher of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) and Head Professor at Universidad Nacional de Quilmes (UNQ) where he is in charge of the Intellectual History Program.
Member of the Argentine Foreign Affairs Service. He currently works for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Buenos Aires in the Directorate of Human Rights and is a member of the National Commission for Refugees (CONARE). He works on issues related to the prevention of mass atrocities and has participated in the development of the National Plan against Discrimination. He worked abroad for Argentine Embassies before the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil.
#MemoriasSituadas has links to other third-party websites for information purposes. The CIPDH-UNESCO is not responsible for the content, errors, technical problems or failures of any kind they may have.