Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog will know that at The TAS Group we try to support the great work being done by the folks over at WITNESS, the charity founded by musician Peter Gabriel. WITNESS uses video and online technologies to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations..
I’m delighted to say that on November 11, at the WITNESS Focus for Change Benefit Dinner in New York, we will be joined in supporting WITNESS by a number of fellow members of the Dealmaker Partner Network.The work that the folks over at WITNESS do is very important, and a quick look at the WITNESS Hub puts into perspective the minor trials and tribulations we face in general commercial life everyday. I’m very pleased that our partners in the Dealmaker Partner Network are sufficiently philosophically aligned with us to join us in supporting WITNESS. If you’d like to join us, just sign up for the event at the WITNESS Focus for Change Benefit Dinner website. It’s a very cool event anyway, and is both good fun, and a good thing to do. At least take a minute to have a look.
Recently I caught up with the Executive Director of WITNESS, Yvette Alberdingkthijm, and I continue to be humbled by the work they do. I’m also intrigued by how well they use Web 2.0 to defend human rights – something more of us should take time out to do. I thought that the WITNESS story might be of interest to the readership of this blog, so I asked Yvette to put together a short tale of how they use Web 2.o. Here’s the story in her words.
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Using Web 2.0 Tools to End Human Rights Abuses
I’m celebrating my first year as Executive Director of WITNESS (www.witness.org), the human rights organization that musician and activist Peter Gabriel founded nearly 17 years ago, with the mission to use video and new technologies to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations.
WITNESS partners with and trains human rights groups around the world in the strategic use of video to create change. My “customers” are human rights defenders all over the world, experts in their fields, who need to beef up their skills to have more impact. In the past 17 years, our expertise in how to best use video and technology, has powered up my customers’ campaigns and, as a result, has changed people’s lives and delivered justice to victims of human rights abuses.
WITNESS is known as an organization that is innovative and on the cutting edge of technology, applying the latest tools and tactics to the field of human rights. We were recently recognized as the world leader in ‘video for change’. How did we do this? By constantly tapping into evolving trends in technology and listening to our customers’ on-the-ground needs. In Cambodia, they want “flip camera” skills to document and fight evictions; in the U.S., they want to improve their skills with mobile video to fight against the abuse of older people; in Iran, they need to understand how to stay safe when using Twitter against a repressive regime.
We used video as a technology before anyone did; we created a website where human rights defenders could share human rights videos before YouTube existed (http://hub.witness.org). We use social networks, blogs and online networks to solicit feedback, support for campaigns, and share learnings in video for change. We reach our customers where they are: www.youtube.com/witness; www.facebook.com/witness) www.twitter.com/witnessorg); we monitor our impact by analyzing web metrics; we partner with our donor base through social networks and email; and we significantly increased our reach and network by sharing our training materials online.
Today, everyone with a mobile phone can become a witness to a human rights violation and technology is enabling the sharing of those videos for change. Technology is facilitating collaboration and coalitions, sometimes across oceans, that were inconceivable a few years ago. WITNESS is currently adapting its strategy to scale the value we deliver (e.g.video toolkits), to seek impact in collaborative partnerships that build on our respective expertises, pool resources, and deliver an integrated solution to human rights defenders. That is the way we realize the 2.0 change we seek.
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To become a partner and support WITNESS, go to www.witness.org/donate.