International Documentation Network
on the Great Lakes Region of Africa



The control of and access to information is a decisive factor when the logic of war and the negative influences of extremists groups continue to prevail. For this reason, the Documentation Network intends to be a reliable and complete information service to different users.

- At national level, potential users are political bodies, executives of associative and denominational structures, journalists, and academics.

- At international level, potential users are employees of aid and cooperation organisations, humanitarian and development NGOs, the media, and scientific research. Information initially distributed will concern Burundi, Rwanda, and the Northern and Southern regions of Kivu in Zaire. Documents distributed will primarily concern the immediate present. Older documents could also appear on the list if they are of continued relevance to the present context (or when they shed light on the present situation).

The aim of the International Documentation Network is to become a structure conjointly managed with the Great Lakes Region Universities.

Documents will be published regularly in CD-Rom form. References will be published twice yearly in bulletin form.


Definition and constitution of a data base

The data base essentially concerns written documents which are not normally registered (as books, reviews, international press are ) by several training and research structures. These include:

- written documents with limited distribution from national and international institutions in the region: ministries, national parliaments, United Nations and development cooperation agencies, religious institutions, humanitarian and development NGOs, human rights associations, etc. These will in general include official documents and texts, activity reports, working papers, reports from experts and consulting firms, etc.

- written «immediate» documents from actors: open letters, appeals, tracts, non-regular newspapers, publications, occasional papers, etc.

Documents are provided by various organisations, collectives and individuals who wish them to be distributed. The Network will not pay post taxes for the documents sent to it. In exchange for documents received, the Network will send its bulletin and CD-Rom free of charge.


Principles for distribution of documents

The principle being that documents sent to the Documentation Network will be transmitted to those who wish to receive them, various attempts at manipulation could happen. To avoid this risk, the scientific committee has adopted the principle of non-immediate distribution of documents, and will also classify documents received in two categories:

- official documents from international and national organisations (ministries, national parliaments, etc.). Distribution of these documents will be delayed for three months, unless these institutions indicate precisely that they wish to have a particular document distributed as quickly as possible.

Some confidential documents from public or private institutions, could reach the Documentation Network by irregular means (without transmission slip). In this case, these institutions will be asked whether they are in agreement for such documents to be distributed immediately or at a later stage, at their convenience. If permission is not obtained, such documents will be destroyed.

- documents from NGOs, various associations and collectives, political parties, and individuals. Such documents will be subject, without exception, to the rule of delayed distribution after a period of three months. Such documents may be sub-classified by their origin and content. If their authenticity cannot be verified, they will be distributed on a hatched background and marked «authenticity of document not verified».

In such cases where documents contain implicite or other indications which could harm the personal security of individuals, the executive bureau will decide on their destruction or delayed distribution. Such documents will be kept for a maximum of two years. Beyond this period, documents will be destroyed if the committee still considers them as not transmittable.

The executive bureau commits itself to ensuring that documents not distributed under the rules hereabove are destroyed: no storage of archives will be made in any circumstance. Moreover, documents whose distribution has been delayed will be stored in a separate place from the Network office and any distribution of such documents by persons working for the Network will be considered as serious professional malpractice resulting in dismissal or exclusion. Finally, during the period for which distribution of documents is delayed, whatever the nature of these documents, absolutely no distribution will be made to any persons.


Users’ access

CD-Rom will be published every three months. A descriptive bulletin indexing all documents received and available for distribution (under conditions stated previously) will also be published as hard copy by UNESCO - BREDA (Bureau Régional pour l’Education en Afrique, Dakar), and later on Internet.

CD-Rom and bulletins are payable. However, the principle of exchange will operate for Network partners who participate regularly in providing information.

The International Network will ensure that access to publications is available to ministries, universities from the Great Lakes region, religious institutions, NGOs, the press, etc. To this end, the Network will facilitate contacts between interested partners lacking technical resources for consultation and printing and various sources of financing, in order to ensure that these partners are able to have complete access to the Documentation Network.


Organization and legal structure

Without waiting for the end of the crisis, and following several demands by academics and field development actors, a scientific committee created the International Network. This Committee includes American, Belgian, Canadian, French, and Swiss academics; academics of the great Lakes region will join as soon as possible.

The legal framework of the International Documentation Network on the African Great Lakes Region is a Foundation under Swiss law : the Foundation for the distribution of documentation on the Great African Lakes region. The Foundation Board - presently consisting of members of the present scientific committee - fulfills all prerogatives for and on behalf of the Foundation. The Board appoints from among its members an executive bureau consisting of five persons (four academics, members of the Board, and the Head of the Network secretariat).

The Foundation hopes to gain the financial, scientific or technical support of every national or international organism agreeing with its goals. To date, several organisations are involved in the Network through contributions for the starting phase, or through exchange of documents or services.

Scientific committee: members to date are the following (13.03.1996):

BAYART Jean-François (Political Studies Institute-CERI-France)
COPANS Jean (University of Amiens-France)
DE VILLERS Gauthier (African Institute/CEDAF-Belgium)
FRIEDLI Richard (University of Fribourg-Switzerland)
GONTARD Jean-Pierre (Graduate Institute of Development Studies - Switzerland)
GUICHAOUA André (University of Lille 1-France)
JEWSIEWICKI Bogumil (University of Laval-Québec)
LE PAPE Marc (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales/CEA- France)
MONNIER Laurent (Graduate Institute of Development Studies-Switzerland)
NEWBURY Catharine (University of North Carolina-USA)
REYNTJENS Filip (University of Anvers-Belgium)
VIDAL Claudine (EHESS/CEA- France)
WILLAME Jean-Claude (Catholic University of Louvain-Belgium)

Executive bureau :

GUICHAOUA André (Chairperson)
GONTARD Jean-Pierre
VIDAL Claudine
WILLAME Jean-Claude

CHARRIERE Georges, programme officer in charge of the Network secretariat.



P.O. Box 136
CH 1211 Geneva 21, Switzerland
Tel: (41) 22.906.59.05
Fax: (41) 22.906.59.94