Contact and the transfer of documentation

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The project to preserve the documentation generated by the Nuclear Claims Tribunal began in 2012, when the Elsevier Foundation, dedicated to promoting science and technology in developing countries, awarded a grant to the Nuclear Claims Tribunal to conserve and digitise its documents. The funds from the foundation were allocated to acquiring a computer and a scanner, as well as obtaining the participation of professional archivists and to hire a worker to carry out the digitisation work. [1] 

The archivist, Trudy Peterson, made two trips to Majuro in 2012 to study the documentation and develop a preservation plan. Initially, it seemed that one person could be hired and that they could spend two months working on the archiving of the documentation but, for various reasons, in the end this was not possible. 

In the same year, 2012, Trudy Peterson and Joan Boadas, Head of the Municipal Archive of Girona, came to an agreement at a meeting of the International Council on Archives in Weimar (Germany). There, Trudy Peterson explained to Boadas the state of the sound and audiovisual collection of the Marshall Islands. Peterson knew that in the Municipal Archive of Girona, specifically the Centre for Image Research and Diffusion (CRDI), a department within the city council, they had experience in the treatment of audiovisual documentation, and for this reason she raised the possibility of establishing a collaboration agreement between the Marshall Islands and Girona City Council with Boadas. The agreement was implemented in October 2012.

Joan Boadas i Bill Graham a Barcelona, 2012Joan Boadas i Bill Graham a Barcelona, 2012

The first shipment of the material came through Bill Graham, one of the lawyers who had taken part in the process of the Nuclear Claims Tribunal on behalf of the government of the islands. Graham transported the cassette tapes in a wheeled suitcase, crossing the borders of the United States, Switzerland and Spain. On leaving the Marshall Islands, a police officer opened Bill Graham's suitcase and when asked about the contents, he explained that they were the tapes of the Nuclear Claims Tribunal. To the surprise of the lawyer, the police let him pass without any further questions.


The digitalisation of audiovisual documentation began at the CRDI in October 2013 and, by February of the following year, it had been completed. Later, there were other document transfers, the last one being in July 2016, and now all the documentation has been digitised. 

Meanwhile, in early 2014, Trudy Peterson made a proposal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland to provide funds to restart the project to digitise the textual documentation. At the beginning of 2015, the proposal was approved and the non-governmental organization, SwissPeace, was hired by the Ministry to administer the collections. In March of the same year, Peterson and archivist Andreas Nef travelled to Majuro with a new scanner and two high capacity hard drives to store digital documentation. At the same time, the training of the staff who would carry out the digitisation was also implemented. In September Andreas Nef returned to Majuro and made a further donation of two portable computers from SwissPeace and DocuTeam. 

During the summer of 2015, the Greenpeace organisation also made a generous donation to the project to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Rainbow Warrior trip that transported people from a contaminated area of the Rongelap Atoll to the island of Mejatto, on the Kwajalein Atoll. The donation has been used to pay for two more people to work on the digitisation and for a second scanner. 

Currently there are negotiations with the Swiss Federal Archives in order to address the problem of permanent storage of the digital copies.


[1] Tribunal records preserved. The Marshall Islands Journal. Friday, November 13, 2015