Sunday, 29 April 2007

Launch of the WITNESS Hub

Nelson Mandela Theatre, Said Business School
Wednesday 28th March 2007

Peter Gabriel at the 2007 Skoll World Forum Oxford University — photo Fruchterman

• This was another pre-conference session in which Peter Gabriel and Gillian Caldwell launched their new YouTube-style internet hub for the WITNESS project. WITNESS is a project which distributes video cameras and other tools of communication to help people record evidence of human rights abuses.

In 1988, Peter Gabriel was part of Amnesty International’s Human Rights Now! Tour. He was struck by the stories he heard from survivors of human rights abuses and the lack of attention these stories received. Gabriel had brought along one of the first camcorders and realized the potential of video as a tool against the abuse ... the perpetrators were often brought to justice when photographic or video evidence of abuses existed.

The independent nonprofit organization WITNESS was set up in 1992, not long after video of Rodney King being assaulted by four Los Angeles police officers catalysed interest in the use of video to bring attention to human rights issues. WITNESS is based in Brooklyn, New York, and it’s Executive Director, Gillian Caldwell, has been active in several of the main social entrepreneur networks.

WITNESS works with diverse groups around the world, carefully selecting partners based on the strength of their human rights work, the clarity of their mission, and the ability of video to enhance their campaigns. Currently, its partner groups are active in the fight for the rights of indigenous people, for an end to systemic gender violence and the use of children as soldiers, and for environmental protection where human communities are at stake.

• “The Hub” is envisaged as a YouTube-style forum where people can upload human rights related footage video from handheld devices or laptops, to create communities of support for action on the abuses that they witness. The Hub will be fully operational in June this year.
— YouTube video of Peter Gabriel’s speech to the 2007 Skoll World Forum
— Pilot project of The Hub
Peter Gabriel speaking on human rights and citizen journalism (TED Talks February 2006)

Peter Gabriel’s speech to the 2007 Skoll World Forum