Correcting History, Connecting History
On local, regional and global levels, in over 75 countries, the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience provides its members with the connections, tools and support to create inclusive, democratic societies that are steeped in the principles of dignity, equality and human rights for all. As a result, in the past year, Sites of Conscience have catalyzed new levels of civic engagement the world over, sparking citizen-led movements for memory, accountability and justice.
Sites of Conscience Lead the Way
Preserving memory and promoting truth is an active struggle across the globe, but thanks to Sites of Conscience it is a struggle in which communities are gaining real traction. With support from Sites of Conscience, communities emerging from trauma are advocating for formal acknowledgement and accountability while also mobilizing to counter revisionism and center narratives that have historically been excluded.
In this way, Sites of Conscience help communities correct the history and connect the history, the foundational steps that can set the stage for truth and healing, for reconciliation and justice.
The State of Truth in the World Report
In October 2023, ICSC’s Global Initiative for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation (GIJTR)—a consortium of nine global organizations that works alongside communities to amplify the voices of survivors and inspire collective action in countries struggling to confront human rights violations—launched The State of Truth in the World Report, a groundbreaking assessment of civil society’s access to truth through the lenses of memory, education and justice. The first report of its kind, written largely by local civil society actors with a diversity of lived experience and expertise, the publication offers holistic, survivor-centered analysis of the access
to and protection of historical truths in 18 countries worldwide. Read the full report here.
Addressing the Silences:
Museums Reflect, Correct and
Transform to Foster Social Cohesion
To harness the transformative capacity of Sites of Conscience, ICSC is facilitating Addressing the Silences: Museums Reflect, Correct and Transform to Foster Social Cohesion, a dynamic three-year project sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The project brings together 10 Sites of Conscience from across the United States, where an extraordinary of confluence of trends, including heightened awareness of police violence against people of color, a deepening of social and political divides and the politicization of crucial public health and education issues, has led museums to reflect on their historic role in perpetuating injustice and also fostering social cohesion today.
Truth-Telling Through Digital Narratives
In August 2023, ICSC’s GIJTR gathered representatives of civil society organizations in Bali, Indonesia for its “Truth-telling through Digital Narratives” project. The event provided participants with tools and resources to develop digital platforms that counter official discourses while providing safe spaces for victims and survivors of conflict to share their testimonies. In addition, participants visited Taman Baca Kesiman, a local library in Depansar, Indonesia, where they had the chance to hear from local activists documenting the stories of victims and survivors of the 1965-1966 mass killings in Indonesia. Click here to listen to Denis Džidić, a project participant and Executive Director of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina, describe the importance of developing digital narratives in his context.
Rohingya Refugees Share Their Own Stories
In 2022-23, ICSC’s GIJTR partnered with Historias en Kilómetros, a documentary production company in Colombia, to find innovative ways to document the stories of Rohingya refugees living in the camps of Cox’s Bazar. The initiative was part of GIJTR’s larger work with Rohingya communities, with whom they have partnered since 2019 to train local activists to document human rights abuses in a credible, professional and standardized manner. In this photo, staff from Historias en Kilómetros train community members in videography in
Bangladesh. Photo credits: Historias en Kilómetros
A Community of Colleagues: Sharing Lessons Learned
In June 2023, ICSC partnered with the Museum of Free Derry, a Site of Conscience in Northern Ireland, to host the first International Seminar on Conflict Transformation. The seminar convened eight ICSC sites from the Balkan region—including members from Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovinia and Croatia—to meet with Northern Ireland peacebuilders and learn from the “Derry Model.” The convening illuminated vital lessons for peacebuilding after conflict, including the importance of establishing opportunities for survivors to participate in inclusive and informal truth-telling initiatives alongside more formal accountability mechanisms as both can help establish trust and further reconciliation.