The Society of American Archivists notes with grave concern reports of the systematic destruction of archives in Kosovo and war-caused devastation to archives throughout Yugoslavia.
Archives hold the valuable records of the accomplishments of a nation, of a government's actions, and of its people's lives. Destruction of the archives eliminates a vital link in a nation's connection to its past and destroys a people's ability to learn about themselves and to defend their rights and interests.
Although felt most deeply by those directly affected, the loss of archives anywhere in the world is an irreplaceable tragedy for all mankind. Once destroyed, archives cannot be recreated, and the cultural patrimony of the world is permanently diminished.
With these considerations in mind, the Society of American Archivists deplores the loss of archives that has taken place to date in the Yugoslav conflict and urges all military forces to recognize the significance and sanctity of archives and to take all actions necessary to protect them to the greatest extent possible wherever they may be found.
Adopted by the Council of the Society of American Archivists, April 14, 1999