• Handheld Human Rights for Digital Advocacy

Handheld Human Rights for Digital Advocacy

The Obama Human Rights Conference

The election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States signaled the promise of change in foreign and domestic policy and a renewed focus on human rights. This conference will examine what the Obama administration has accomplished around human rights at home and abroad during its first two years and what remains to be addressed.

The invited speakers include significant human rights figures, government officials, civil society leaders and academics. The diversity of viewpoints will offer a balanced examination of pressing human rights issues and will provide the Obama Administration with objective suggestions for policy reforms moving forward.

American University looks forward to hosting this important conversation and raising awareness for global human rights issues that impact us all.


This session includes two innovative organizations that are using technology to document human rights support and abuses. Witness is an international human rights organization that uses video to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations and empowers people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change. They will highlight key principles of effective video for advocacy, emerging challenges and opportunities, and concrete next steps that human rights organizations, technology providers and social media communities can take to make the power of video-for-change safe, ethical and effective. Digital Democracy seeks to empower marginalized communities to use technology to build their futures, encourage democratic engagement and protect human rights.  They will discuss their Handheld Human Rights program in Burma which uses mobile phones to connect human rights workers around the country. Using mobile text messages connected with a detailed computer interface, HHR helps aid workers quickly and securely share critical information in order to coordinate responses and save lives. The program includes a systematic approach to localizing open source software, creating curriculum and working with groups on specific HR strategies, as well as aggregating existing info.

Confirmed Speakers:

Mark Belinisky, President & Co-Founder, Digital Democracy
Jenni Wolfson, Managing Director, WITNESS
(INTRODUCTIONS) Angelica Das, Associate Director, Center for Social Media, American University School of Communication

Date: April 2011 Client: American University Skills: Talk, University Website: www.american.edu/provost/human-rights/obama-conf/index.cfm