Innovation Challenge 2017: Part 1, Human Rights Defenders Security

Innovation Challenge 2017 focus on the security of our Human Rights Defenders, as well as creative reporting. You will be able to submit an idea related to either one of the two themes and compete to receive funding to turn your idea into reality.

This post will explore the “Human Rights Defenders Security” theme.

Surveillance and the use of apps to target human rights defenders, as well as internet censorship or shutdowns, media blackouts, trolls, etc. are some of the recurring strategies that, mainly, but unfortunately not only, authoritarian governments are using to undermine civil and political rights. In fact, we see more and more cases of governments turning to companies or hackers to advance their agenda. For example, as Civil Rights Defenders reported in March this year, the Azerbaijani government blocked all the primary independent news websites for several days.

These developments are not encouraging for human rights, still there are human rights defenders putting their lives at risk. This is why we call on YOU. You can turn the tables on these practices. Can you outsmart them? We look forward to hearing proposals that deal with innovations on physical security; organisational security; digital security; secure financial transactions; secure audits; or mental health improvements.

For instance, in 2009, Civil Rights Defenders launched, together with a partner organisation, a Free Media Help Line. This provided journalists with legal aid, as well as counselling to people working in media organisations in Bosnia Herzegovina.
Last but not least, we cannot help but mention Natalia Project, which triggered the Human Rights Innovation Initiative. This device is the world’s first alarm and positioning system for human rights defenders. It can be activated in case of an attack and send out a warning signal to people nearby and to our headquarter in Stockholm. It has served as a strong deterrent to authoritarian governments. Since the launch in 2013, none of the Natalia Project users have been arrested, showcasing its tremendous real life impact.

These two examples of how Civil Rights Defenders have applied solutions protecting civil and political rights against human rights abusers, serve to illustrate the core of the Innovation Challenge 2017 — how YOU can participate with your idea to increase the security of human rights defenders.

Submit your idea to Innovation Challenge 2017. Become the solution!