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Principles of Access to Archives

TitelPrinciples of Access to Archives
UitgeverInternational Council on Archives
Plaats uitgaveParijs

Archives are preserved for use by present and future generations. An access service links archives to the public; it provides information for users about the institution and its holdings; it influences whether the public will trust the custodians of archives and the services they provide. Archivists support a culture of openness, but accept restrictions as required by laws and other authorities, ethics, or donor requirements. When restrictions are unavoidable, they must be clear and limited in scope and duration. Archivists encourage responsible parties to formulate clear mandates and consistent rules for access, but in the absence of unambiguous guidelines, archivists provide appropriate access by considering professional ethics, equity and fairness, and legal requirements. Archivists ensure that restrictions are fairly and reasonably applied, prevent unauthorized access to restricted archives, and provide the widest possible use of archives by monitoring restrictions and promptly removing those no longer warranted. Archivists adhere to the Principles of Access to Archives in formulating and implementing access policies.


The principles of access to archives are:

  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.
  2. Institutions holding archives make known the existence of the archives, including the existence of closed materials, and disclose the existence of restrictions that affect access to the archives.
  3. Institutions holding archives adopt a pro-active approach to access.
  4. Institutions holding archives ensure that restrictions on access are clear and of stated duration, are based on pertinent legislation, acknowledge the right of privacy and respect the rights of owners of private materials.
  5. Archives are made available on equal and fair terms.
  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.
  7. Users have the right to appeal a denial of access.
  8. Institutions holding archives ensure that operational constraints do not prevent access to archives.
  9. Archivists have access to all closed archives and perform necessary archival work on them.
  10. Archivists participate in the decision-making process on access.


Committee On Best Practices and Standards Working Group on Access

Adopted by the AGM on August 24, 2012
Gepubliceerd  op de site van de ICA op 20 feburari 2013,

Citation Keyref_9676



Datum eerste publicatie: 
woensdag, 3 juli 2019 - 10:16pm