Gather Festival 2017: Tech, Innovation & Human Rights

Last week Civil Rights Defenders’ Human Rights Innovation Initiative participated in the Gather Festival in Stockholm, Sweden: a conference, a music festival, and a series of innovation labs, all together.

Under the banner of “question, collaborate, and think different” social entrepreneurs, artists, programmers, and many other interesting personalities met under three days to discuss the future of inclusive societies. All conference days concluded with music, performances and art exhibits around Stockholm, further opening up for the conversation and convergence of technology, culture and innovation.

In this spirit of sparking creativity to bring new ideas to solve some of the most acute issues affecting our globe today, Mathias Antonsson from the Human Rights Innovation Initiative took the stage to start the conversation around the intersection of technology, innovation and human rights. He emphasized how leaders of repressive regimes are really creative, using digital opportunities and tech to further expand their control.

“We did not necessarily choose to work with innovation, in order to serve our human rights defenders, we have to.” — Mathias Antonsson, Civil Rights Defenders

He also stressed how security is one of the most important concerns for the partners of Civil Rights Defenders:

“Arrests, torture, lengthy and arbitrary prison sentences are unfortunately all too common. So we need to innovate to keep them safe, we need to innovate to improve the security of human rights defenders in their context, and of course without impact their work will be futile. So we also need to innovate to support the effect of the evidence they collect and share. That we innovate to empower them to increase their impact on civil and political rights in their own context.” — Mathias Antonsson, Civil Rights Defenders.

We also took the opportunity to introduce the brand-new Innovation Challenge 2017 and planted the seeds for how we can all get involved in supporting human rights.

See the whole presentation at Gather Festival below.

Mathias Antonsson at the Gather Festival 2017, Stockholm.

Our three main reflections of Gather Festival 2017:

  1. It was great to see a new (and young) group of individuals passionate about creating a sustainable and equitable future;
  2. It was inspiring to hear about future visions for society, the role of tech, and how will revolutionise our understanding of ourselves and our environment;
  3. Altogether we had several enriching dialogues with many new actors for cross-sector collaborations. Let’s see what the future will bring.