Archives and Dealing with the Past: Mapping of Swiss Institutions

Dear Madam/Sir,

In June 2011 the Human Security Division (HSD) of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), launched the project ‘Archives and Dealing with the Past’, in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Archives (SFA), and mandated swisspeace for its implementation. The main goals in the initial phase of the project were to reach out to existing experts in this field, to contribute to the consolidation of a network, and to act as a nexus between governments, international institutions or organizations requesting expertise, and professionals who can provide it. Since then, ‘Archives and Dealing with the Past’ rendered services in a number of international projects.

In order to facilitate more information on possibilities of cooperation and knowledge exchange, we are establishing a mapping of the archival landscapes in Switzerland. We are interested in figuring out if there are archival institutions already engaged as so-called ‘Safe Havens’. The term ‘Safe Havens’ refers to institutions that are storing archival bodies of third parties in order to protect the data from foreign access as long as needed.

  • If you and your institution are interested in engaging as a ‘Safe Haven’ for archival bodies of third parties, please contact us via e-mail or phone.
  • If you and your institution are interested in any cooperation or knowledge exchange in the field of ‘Archives and Dealing with the Past’ and the topic of ‘Safe Havens’, we would as well be interested in establishing a personal contact.
  • If you and your institution are already hosting foreign, human rights related archival bodies (digital or analogue), we kindly ask you to answer the questions below or to contact us directly. Please be aware of the sensitive content your answers may contain. We suggest answering the questions only superficially if you choose to communicate via email. We will come back to you if more information is needed.


  1. Are there any human rights related bodies of third parties stored in your archives?
    a.   Do you host digital or analogue bodies?
  2. Does your institution have the technological and spatial capacity to store human rights related, endangered bodies in an appropriate way?
    a.   Does your institution have the capacity of labour force needed?
  3. Is your institution able to provide the necessary security for the hosting human rights related, endangered bodies?
  4. If you are hosting human rights related, endangered bodies: what is the duration of the commitment to host those bodies?
    a.   What are your partners for this cooperation?
    b.   How was the actual cooperation established?
  5. Do you see any potential for future cooperation and/or knowledge exchange in the field of ‘Archives and Dealing with the Past’, especially as a ‘Safe Haven’ for endangered archival bodies?

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.

Thank you for your cooperation and with kind regards,

Anna Sommer

Head of Project
Interdisciplinary Centre
for Gender Studies ICFG
University of Berne
+41 31 631 52 68