Posts Tagged ‘YouTube’

Bahrain’s Nabeel Rajab in video clip

February 18, 2013

Further to yesterday’s post regarding the trial of Nabeel Rajab, I just came across an older (2012) 10-mn video clip where he speaks himself. In case you want to hear it:

About the growing importance of images in the human rights world and the big challenges it poses

January 16, 2013

Yvette Alberdingk Thijm, executive director of the US-based NGO Witness, wrote a post in the Huffington Post of 15 January about this fascinating topic on the occasion of Witness’ 20th anniversary. Here are some quotes before making a more critical comment:

Twenty years ago, WITNESS was created because a world with many cameras — a world “where the eyes of the world are opened to human rights” — did not yet exist, a big bold vision at the time. Today, building on two decades of experience in creating tangible human rights change by exposing the truth through video, we are envisioning the next frontier: a world where video is not only ubiquitous, but has given millions the power to hold human rights abusers accountable, to deliver justice and to transform the human rights landscape.”….”So in 2013 and beyond, we are committed to building “video-for-change” communities, supporting networks of human rights defenders, from communities fighting forced evictions in Brazil to youth in the U.S. campaigning to protect the environment.”

In 2012, Witness launched the Human Rights Channel in partnership with YouTube and Storyful to ensure that important human rights stories are seen and contextualized. “We are committing in 2013 and beyond to take on the systems. The technology companies that run the platforms must create more human rights friendly spaces for all of us. And we decided to focus on the international legal systems to improve the understanding of how to authenticate citizen media to hold perpetrators of abuse accountable. We are working to achieve this vision by partnering and sharing in order to meet the challenge in front of us. We’ll join forces with technology mavens and mobile developers, with courageous human rights defenders worldwide, with brave bloggers, with witnessing citizens, with peer networks and effective organizations.”

Witness has indeed greatly advanced the use of images in the struggle for human rights and its future plans are daunting. What is missing – understandably in a piece that celebrates the achievement of a group’s anniversary – is the wider picture of what the human rights movement is doing with images. From the visualization of human rights defenders (the Martin Ennals Award, Front Line Defenders, Rights Livelihood Awards, Tulip Award, Civil Rights Defenders, HRF to mention just some who regularly make film portraits and/or stream their proceedings), the production of films on HRDs (e.g. True Heroes foundation),  the systematization of access to images (e.g. by HURIDOCS) and the showing of films by a myriad of human rights film festivals (HRW, AI, Movies that Matter, and some 30 others). This modest blog alone has made some 60 references to the use of film images for human rights, many by Witness and the organizations mentioned above.

I mentioning this not because of ‘fairness’ in the sense that others need to be mentioned also, but because the full scope of the challenges ahead needs to be seen and addressed. Human rights images face the same problems as documentation: (1) information overload; (2) finding the most relevant information (even more daunting for images as searching directly on images is still far away); (3) authenticity and veracity; (4) ensuring quantity and quality  of dissemination (what goes ‘viral’ is not necessarily what serves human rights) and (5) protecting of sources and participants (have the persons in the film given informed consent?). And I am sure there are quite a few other important issues.

So when the executive director of Witness states that it excites her “that we, together with so many allies, are taking the challenge for the future head on“, one must hope that it includes all those who can contribute to her vision of a world ” where many, many more citizens and human rights defenders have access to knowledge, skills and tools enabling them to create compelling, trustable videos and to make sure that their video is acted upon and human rights change happens.”

Follow Witness on Twitter:  see its annual report:  annual report

On-Line Video contest also in Turkey

November 28, 2012

On 23 November I referred to the video contest on human rights in Armenia and wondered where the others were. Here is one more, in Turkey as reported by BIANET on 27 November:

With its slogan “Make a film. Be Viral. Create a Change”, Human Rights Online Video Contest selected five young directors who recorded stories about how they see and interpret human rights issues in the environment. Finalists were selected by a jury including Ece Temelkuran, Melek Özman and Fatih Keskin.

The winner video will be selected following a public voting ending on December 3. Anyone can vote for the contest through  The delegation also urged social media users to share the video through Twitter and Facebook. The winner–the most viral video on social media–will be announced on the delegation website.

A closing ceremony will be held in Ankara to award the winner on December 12.

UNICEF: the top ten cartoons for children’s rights

November 23, 2012

UNICEF has just released the ‘Top 10 Cartoons for Children’s Rights’, as selected by polling broadcasters and communicators, to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Cartoons for Children’s Rights is a UNICEF broadcast initiative that aims to inform people around the world about children’s rights. So far, the effort has forged partnerships with many well-known animation studios that have developed more than 80 half-minute public service announcements (PSAs). Each PSA illustrates a right described in the global rights treaty, such as ‘Freedom from Child Labour’ or ‘Protection from Neglect’. All the spots are non-verbal, in order to get the rights message across to everyone, regardless of language.


New international training institute for online tactics for HRDs being set up in Florence

November 6, 2012

Normally I would not feel that BBC news (5 November – by Sean Coughlan, BBC News education correspondent) needs to be repeated in my blog but this story is so specifically linked to Human Rights Defenders and so much ‘hidden’ in the education/business section that I want to alert you all anyway. This is a shortened version.

An international training institute to teach online tactics for human rights campaigners is being set up in the Italian city of Florence. The first students, starting in the new year, will be drawn from human rights activists around the world – with the aim of arming them with the latest tools for digital dissent. There is a dangerous, high-stakes, hi-tech game of cat and mouse being played – with protesters needing to balance their secrecy and safety with their need to achieve the maximum public impact.

This training centre, being set up by the European wing of the US-based Robert Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, wants to combine academic study with practical skills and training. With a good dose of irony, the training institute is based in a former prison building, donated by the city of Florence.

Murate, FlorenceFederico Moro, the director of the project, says the intention is to use “technology to promote democracy, human rights and justice”. “The idea is that with social media you can achieve change,” he says. He says campaigners might have passion and belief in their struggles, but they also need practical knowledge. These students will be blog writers and campaigners, who will be able to study in Florence on scholarships provided by the Robert Kennedy Center. Recruiting will be complicated by the need to protect the privacy of people who might be put at risk even by applying.

As well as teaching individuals, the institute wants to provide information for organisations and businesses, advising on areas such as human rights legislation and ethical investment. But what does a digital activist – or a so-called “smart dissident” – need to know? Chris Michael, from the Brooklyn-based human rights group Witness, describes the practical steps that protesters are using to stay ahead.

There are websites that allow for anonymous internet access, allowing people to organise without revealing identities. There are also means of circumventing censors’ attempts at blocking websites. The Tor project software, an unexpected spin-off from military technology, is favoured by human rights campaigners. Mr Michael says there are also “work arounds” to make online video and phone calls more secure from surveillance.

Another practical development is software that can easily pixellate faces in video footage, protecting bystanders who might be put at risk by identification. In terms of posting videos of protests or repression, Witness is working with YouTube on a dedicated human rights channel. It’s already hosting hundreds of user-generated videos from a wide number of countries, at the moment including Syria, Pakistan, Libya, Burma, Chile, Spain, Russia, China and the United States. There’s a daily update of video reports which include anything from student protests to forcible evictions. Selecting and showcasing the most relevant videos is important to make an impact on YouTube’s global audience, Mr Michael says. “Very few people are going to watch for hours. You might be able to get their attention for 45 seconds, that’s the world people live in,” he says.

The spread of mobile phones means there is an unprecedented ability for recording and distributing evidence of violence against citizens. We’re living in a global goldfish bowl. But is this making the world a safer place? Can cheap video and social networking defrost dictatorships? To put it bluntly, could Hitler and Stalin have been exposed at an earlier stage by Twitter and YouTube?

Facebook poster in Cairo protestThe Arab Spring saw social networking becoming a forum for protest. But the question remains whether Facebook really enabled Arab revolutions, or whether it enabled the rest of the world to find out more about a revolution that was going to happen anyway. Stephen Bradberry, a community activist in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, uses the word “slacktivism” – as a caution for the idea that clicking on a “like” button is a sufficient alternative to grassroots organisation. He also makes the point that while the internet makes so much information accessible, the power to find it is handed over to the search engines and their algorithms.

Rana Husseini, a Jordanian activist and journalist who uncovered stories about honour killings, says the internet has given a voice to public opinion. She also shares concerns that digital technology can be used as tools for surveillance and control as well as openness and investigation. But she speaks passionately about the way that ordinary people risk their lives to record video clips on their mobile phones in conflicts such as Syria. “This couldn’t have happened in the past – and probably this person will vanish.”

But the act of documenting is an important statement in its own right, she says. The idea of so many individuals making their own video history in this way is “something new and important”.

As an educational project, the human rights training institute project in Florence is an unlikely collision of influences. It’s a highly individual project. Stephen Bradberry warns of the risk of relying on online campaigns instead of grassroots protests. Inside the sturdy medieval prison walls, in the birthplace of the European renaissance, there is this hi-tech centre for online civil rights, awaiting students from around the world. Into this mix is added the legacy of Robert Kennedy’s 1960s idealism. The foundation was set up in memory of the assassinated senator and is now headed by his daughter, Kerry Kennedy.

The article finishes with a good question “Does online technology help to protect the rights of the individual?” and a range of reactions. Read it and participate.


Amnesty short video on refugees on YouTube

June 19, 2012

It is only 2 minutes long but tells a lot:  when you don’t exist

New Global Channel For Human Rights Videos launched

May 26, 2012

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

On 24 May 2012 two NGOs, WITNESS and Storyful, launched a new  channel devoted to human rights videos. The channel specializes in collecting and sharing citizen videos relevant to human rights. “The new human rights channel will give people an ‘on-the-ground’ perspective of underexposed stories often absent from mainstream media, highlight ways to take action and develop new collaborations amongst interested citizens,” says Sam Gregory, WITNESS’ Program Director. The exponential growth of portable video devices – especially in developing countries – has enabled everyday citizens to record otherwise hidden abuses and to advance human rights from the grassroots level.

The channel will feature:

  • Daily updates of breaking stories, alerts and related campaign videos
  • Featured stories through playlists gather videos together to provide insight into an evolving situation or an under covered issue
  • Profiles of videographers and organizations on YouTube who have made a major impact or a significant contribution to video for change
  • Tools and tactics offering 20 years of WITNESS expertise in video for change

This project will offer users new avenues for action and impact on Google+, where the broader human rights community will take part in discussions, share their material, and find collaborators.

The channel can be found at the following link:

And the conversation continues on Google+:


from: WITNESS And Storyful Launch New Global Channel For Human Rights Video – PR Newswire – The Sacramento Bee

High Commissioner Pillay speaks out against homophobia

May 17, 2012

High Commissioner’s message for International Day Against Homophobia 2012

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and the UN has published a video. In this video message the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay  (the one whose mandate has just been renewed for 2 years) talks about the human cost of homophobia and transphobia. Around the world, people are arrested, attacked, tortured and killed, just for being in a loving relationship. “We cannot let these abuses stand”, she says, calling on States to repeal discriminatory laws and ban discriminatory practices. “Punish violence and hatred, not love”.

a more irreverent view of the Kony-2012 campaign

March 19, 2012

The interest in the Kony-2012 video discussion has been such that I would be amiss in not referring you to the irreverent but sometimes funny treatment given by Charlie Brooker in the 10 o clock live on Channel 4

Love it or hate it, the online phenomenon that is KONY 2012 offers valuable lessons to development communicators.

March 16, 2012

The Kony 2012 campaign is not focused on Human Rights Defenders, but this blog has always taken a fierce interest in the link between videos and human rights and that is now the real issue at hand. There have been many views expressed by experts or those who think they are experts, but the reflections by Riona McCormack in her post “Lessons learned from the KONY 2012 campaign” REPSSI website, I find the most complete and forward-looking until now. I will quote her literally:

Never has a video – and certainly not one created by an NGO – generated such heated and conflicting responses, or achieved such global reach. Fast approaching the 100-million-viewer mark, in the week since the campaign’s launch, coverage of “KONY 2012” has infiltrated every major news outlet and online forum, and ignited a storm of commentary among Facebookers and Tweeters of all ages. However, there is a side to this public debate that has been relatively under-explored: and that is the lessons for media and communications professionals, and specifically those of us working in the development sector.

Here are five important lessons that we can draw from this campaign:

1)  Emotion sells:  Empathy, sorrow, joy, anger – these are the things that make us human, and motivate us to act, learn, or care. The KONY2012 campaign provides emotional resonance in abundance, and the success of this approach is evident. If we are honest, many of us probably felt at least a niggling worm of jealousy watching that YouTube counter climb into the millions. How many excellent, worthy causes have we been pushing for years, wishing for a response just like this? We can learn from this, in terms of how we present our work. At the same time, these tactics, familiar from the film industry, have the dangerous potential to become a form of emotional pornography. We must be careful in how we employ this approach, so that we do not compromise our mission, or our ethics, in order to provoke a reaction. An example of a feel-good video that doesn’t ignore the agency of the people involved is Mama Hope’s glorious celebration of connectivity, their “Stop the Pity. Unlock the Potential” Campaign.

2)  Urgency equals action: Another key to the success of the campaign was the inherent sense of urgency woven into it. The video emphasises the “window of opportunity” that will soon close, the terrible suffering of children which must not continue. For the same reason, efforts to fundraise for earthquake relief funds and other sudden disasters or famines are radically more successful than for ongoing issues of malnutrition. How can we use this in our own campaigns? How can we make long-standing issues with no easy answer into a cause of immediate concern? The Girl Effect is one very slick example of how to introduce a sense of urgency into a long-term problem – education for girls.

3)    People want to act (1): Once people care about something, they usually ask “so what can I do?” If there is no answer to this question, your audience may be left more cynical and apathetic than before. The KONY2012 campaign’s infectiously viral success is due to the clear, simple action it provided for ordinary people to take. Whilst the simplistic nature of this action (especially in the context of a highly complex, distant conflict) has been the subject of much of the criticism facing the campaign, there are many cases in which liking, tweeting or forwarding on a message would be a perfectly appropriate action to encourage. There have also been great examples of creative actions that go beyond simply clicking a button – such as the inspired Movember moustache drive. Bear this in mind the next time you create your own campaign: don’t just inform, ask. Let’s transform viewers into activists. We might be surprised by the response.

4)    People want to act (2): … because it’s worth repeating. We need to recognise that however dubious the message or methodology of the campaign, the millions of people who watched the video, forwarded it on, and bought “action packs” from Invisible Children were motivated by a genuine desire to make a difference. Yet how many of us have at one time or another bemoaned the apathy and ignorance of the vast, amorphous “general public”? Is this is an opportunity for all of us as development communicators to recognise that if we are failing to engage the public, perhaps we need to look at ourselves and how we are communicating?

5)     We need debate, not derision: Many supporters of the KONY2012 campaign have said “at least it has started people talking.” And this is certainly true; some truly excellent pieces of investigationanalysissatireand reflection have been published, including a gratifyingly large number of responses from Ugandans. However, much of the debate taking place last week was bitter, simplistic, and divisive – the detractors classifying supporters as ignorant and uninformed, the supporters calling the detractors pompous and cynical. Both ‘sides” in this debate were to blame for the lack of a balanced discussion. If you disagree with aspects of the KONY2012 campaign, alienating those who support it will not change their viewpoint, nor will it encourage them to read more, learn more and engage more critically with complex issues. How can we find a way to transform the desire to be of service, so evident in the KONY2012 campaign, into sustainable, well-thought out actions?

I share her conclusion that we should not do as if there is only one choice: hate or love the campaign: “Rather, we can take from it what is useful – and discard the rest.”

You can contribute to this debate via The Drum Beat Network:

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