To read this content please select one of the options below:

Role of the National Archives of South Africa in promoting human rights

Nkholedzeni Sidney Netshakhuma (Department of Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa)

Collection and Curation

ISSN: 2514-9326

Article publication date: 7 February 2024

Issue publication date: 26 March 2024




This paper aims to explore the role played by the National Archives of South Africa in human rights promotion and protection. The study examined the challenges that archivists encounter when undertaking archival functions, such as acquisition, appraisal and access provision, that contribute to forming documentary archives crucial for human rights promotion and protection.


A review of literature dealing with acquisition, appraisal and access was used in this research. It was supplemented with interviews.


This paper provides recommendations of benefits in the field of archives management with a focus on the areas of acquisition, appraisal and access. The transformational discourse in the jurisdiction of archives management challenges archival institutions to be active players in selecting historical and cultural archives’ significance that is significant in human rights protections. However, despite judicial requirements that recommend the importance of archives, there is evidence that archival functions such as appraisal, acquisition and access are not being fully used, resulting in national archives institutions that are subject to irregularities that contribute to an unbalanced archives collection.

Research limitations/implications

The paper was limited only to the National Archives of South Africa.

Practical implications

The paper makes practical implications concerning the acquisition, appraisal and providing access to human rights records.

Social implications

Sufficient funding resource allocation ought to be provided to advance human rights promotion.


This paper offers informed recommendations to address the challenges of acquisition, appraisal and access provision of archive materials. The availability of archives materials reinforces the community by aiding to protect legal rights and prevent human rights violations. It was, thus, necessary to establish whether the National Archives of South Africa is actively building the archives collections that are important for human rights promotion and protection.



This is to acknowledged that the article was submitted and accepted after my affliation to the Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town.

Funding: This research was funded by the National Institute of Human and Social Science.


Netshakhuma, N.S. (2024), "Role of the National Archives of South Africa in promoting human rights", Collection and Curation, Vol. 43 No. 2, pp. 51-59.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles