University of Cambridge > > Centre of Governance and Human Rights Events > Beyond Clicktivism: New Models for Exposing Human Rights Violations in the Digital Age

Beyond Clicktivism: New Models for Exposing Human Rights Violations in the Digital Age

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The Digital Verification Corps is a new research model from Amnesty International to involve and train university campuses in open source human rights investigation to assist Amnesty’s research goals and the human rights community in general. It’s currently working with over 70 students at four university campuses around the globe – including UC Berkeley.

From Syria to the Democratic Republic of Congo to Mexico, it’s increasingly difficult for human rights researchers to operate on the ground and investigate reports of human rights violations. Simultaneously, access to camera-enabled mobile phones and mobile internet has grown globally. Human rights organisations now have to use content captured on mobile phones and shared on social media to investigate events.

How has digitalisation changed investigating, verifying and reporting on human rights violations? How have digital sources and big data been successful in investigating human rights violations? How can digital techniques be used in human rights work to affect change, address attribution of responsibility and fight impunity? What are the pitfalls and ethical concerns with using digital sources in human rights investigations? What are the successes and challenges of Amnesty International’s Digital Verification Corps as it evaluates its first year of activity.

Sam Dubberley (King’s 1995) is the manager of Amnesty International’s Digital Verification Corps – which has trained a network of students globally to monitor and verify open source data for use in monitoring human rights abuses. He is also a research consultant on the Human Rights and Big Data project at the University of Essex in the UK and the editor of CrossCheck – an initiative uniting 32 mainstream news organisations to monitor and report on social media content during the French presidential elections. He has published widely on the use of social media and human rights and journalism. Previously, he was a research fellow of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University and managed the newsroom of the European Broadcasting Union.

Alexa Koenig is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Center (winner of the 2015 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions) and a Lecturer-in-Residence at UC Berkeley School of Law, where she teaches classes on human rights and international criminal law. She is most recently the author, with Victor Peskin and Eric Stover, of Hiding in Plain Sight: The Pursuit of War Criminals from Nuremberg to the War on Terror (UC Press, 2016); the editor, with Keramet Reiter, of Extreme Punishment: Comparative Studies in Detention, Incarceration and Solitary Confinement (Palgrave MacMillan, 2015); and a contributor to The Guantánamo Effect: Exposing the Consequences of U.S. Detention and Interrogation Practices (UC Press, 2009).

This talk is part of the Centre of Governance and Human Rights Events series.

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