Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law together with the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution and Google.org, convened a two-day workshop to advance strategic thinking on how to leverage new technologies to strengthen U.N. human rights monitoring around the world. Bringing together a small group of United Nations Human Rights Council mandate-holders, leading civil society activists, government representatives, and technologists working at the intersection of technology and human rights, the workshop developed concrete proposals for how technology platforms can be used to amplify the voices of mandate-holders, broaden their engagement with activists and citizens globally, and increase the awareness and impact of U.N. human rights monitoring mechanisms.
On the first day of the workshop, participants identified the needs of special rapporteurs, learned how technology is currently being used to promote human rights, and discussed the possibilities presented by new technologies for strengthening U.N. human rights mechanisms. The second day was conducted in the form of a design workshop. Hosted at Stanford’s Design School (“d.school”), participants engaged in a day-long exploration of the needs of particular constituencies of the U.N. Special Rapporteurs, and designed and prototyped potential solutions to meet those needs.
Key findings/prototyped solutions:
– A victim-oriented platform of reporting, tracking, and responding to complaints of human rights abuse would allow victims and UN mechanisms to engage one another more directly and effectively;
– A dashboard-style case-management system designed to collate and analyze data would help manage and broadcast the work of UN mandate-holders, facilitating timely reporting and public engagement at all steps of the process;
– A tool for crowd-sourcing support for specific tasks like language translation could help address the lack of financial resources and human capital that hinders effective human rights monitoring
Can technology facilitate the work of the global human rights movement by advancing the U.N. human rights system? The New Technologies and Human Rights Monitoring workshop hosted at Stanford University in August 2012 explored the means by which this could be possible.