The world is changing, and video is changing the world. For twenty years, from Rodney King to the Arab Spring, video has changed the course of history. And WITNESS has been there, to help activists expose human rights abuse – safely, effectively, and ethically – and bring the perpetrators of abuse to justice. Peter Gabriel, a co-founder of the organization in 1992, had a vision that video technology could be used as a tool for the advancement of human rights. That vision is now a reality. Today, with partners around the world, WITNESS is there. To see it. To film it. To change it.
WITNESS has partnered with more than 300 human rights groups in 86 countries, including the U.S. It has trained over 4,500 human rights defenders, developed widely-used training materials and tools, created the first dedicated online platform for human rights media, the HUB, and supported the inclusion of video in hundreds of campaigns, increasing their visibility and impact all over the world. Over the past 20 years, the organization’s video productions, media, resources and staff have reached audiences of over 262 million worldwide.
IMPACT AS OF JAN. 2013:
- In Spring 2012 WITNESS launched YouTube’s first designated channel for human rights in partnership with Storyful, the pioneering social newsgathering organization. The Human Rights Channel sheds light on under-reported stories and amplifies previously unheard voices. With over 100,000 views so far and coverage on CNN, the New York Times blog and Huffington Post, the channel is proving to be a valuable resource for journalists, activists and mainstream media alike.
- On March 14, 2012 the International Criminal Court convicted Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga of conscripting child soldiers. Not only was this a huge victory for human rights, it marked the first time video was admitted as evidence by the ICC – and it was cited by the lead judge as a key factor in the decision. WITNESS first began working on this issue in 2003: we co-produced two videos with partner AJEDI-Ka and used them to lobby the ICC.
- WITNESS released its “Cameras Everywhere” report in September 2011 that provides critical recommendations for how human rights groups, technology companies and developers, policymakers and the media, can help create new global norms, policies and practices that can promote innovative tools and solutions for human rights use.
- In a collaboration with the National Council on Aging WITNESS helped produce more than 100 testimonies on elder abuse, which were sent to Congress with a request to pass the Elder Justice Act. Shortly after, the bill was enacted into law as part of the Health Reform Bill in 2010.
- In a landmark decision in 2010 — which for the first time included the use of video as evidence — the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights ruled that the expulsion of Kenya’s Endorois people from their ancestral land was illegal — a major victory for indigenous peoples across Africa.
SEE THEIR WORK IN ACTION: