Welcome to The Hague Hacks

An Inclusive Approach to Problem-Solving

Connecting worlds

Grass-roots are embedded into our process

The Hague Hacks explores solutions to human rights challenges by integrating ‘problem-owners’ into the solution making process.

Diaspora Community

Human Rights Defenders

Our approach stems from our international network of human rights defenders at The Hague Peace Projects who provide invaluable information from the ground-up about human rights conflicts around the world.

Connecting Knowledge

Trans-disciplinary Exchange

We connect grass-root knowledge with expertise from other sectors of society to facilitate an inclusive problem-solving and idea-creation process.

Exploring Solutions

A Network of Opportunities

This stimulates new collaborations and opportunities to produce effective and well thought-out solutions to the human rights challenges we face every day.

Welcome to the world of human rights hacks. Hacks as in solutions, with the tint of creativity, to help solve global human rights challenges.

This is what we do here at The Hague Hacks. We are a natural progression from our activities at The Hague Peace Projects and were created by, and for, human rights defenders and actors as a means to stimulate new opportunities for human rights solutions, and as a resource for practical help in the here and now.

Since 2014, The Hague Peace Projects have been accumulating invaluable information about conflicts and human rights violations from around the world. We believe that such knowledge from human rights defenders and diaspora is paramount to any successful attempts at building peace or solving human rights problems.

Our mission at The Hague Hacks is to embrace this grass-roots expertise and share it with the outside world in search of answers.

Steen Bentall

Head Hague Hacks

•  Background

The Hague Hacks is an extension of The Hague Peace Projects, which was brought to life by human rights actors who together agreed that more could be done to provide people in Europe, and in countries of conflict, with genuine and reliable information about these conflicts.

Our core belief is that only thorough research, analysis, and regular personal contact with the diaspora, local journalists, and activists on the ground, can a reliable image of a conflict be given.

And only with reliable information about the true causes and consequences of conflicts, can adequate solutions be formulated and relevant action taken.

The Hague Hacks embraces this knowledge and experience to break down hierarchical divides in our inclusive decision making process.

New Technologies

Over the last decades, we have witnessed several major technological developments: breakthroughs in communication technologies, increasing access to ever growing volumes of data and the emergence and widespread application of technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence.

Many people fear the disruptive changes that these technologies can bring. Already many societies suffer from excessive state monitoring, crackdowns on civil rights and freedom of speech by advanced technological means, and there are legitimate concerns about the disproportionate power it provides to a very limited number of large corporations (eg. data collection by the NSA, the commercialization of personal data by Facebook, US election and Brexit manipulation).

However, new technologies also create a lot of new opportunities: not only for new sources of profit, but also as solutions to the non-profit sector. Using appropriate technologies can significantly alter and improve the protection, reach, methods and effectiveness of interventions by professional peace activists, human rights NGOs, international courts, and humanitarian aid and development organizations.

Human Rights Defenders

Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) play an important role in societies worldwide. By documenting, monitoring and addressing human rights violations, and by campaigning for social change and political accountability, they are crucial in the protection of the rights of all. However, their position is usually a vulnerable one. Intimidation and threats from the side of government and other powerful social actors make their work very hard, and in some cases impossible.

Human Rights Defenders are becoming increasingly empowered by new technologies. It has allowed them to extend their capacity to document and analyse abuses, to strengthen their worldwide networks and media outreach, and to more effectively organize their lobby locally and internationally. At the same time, technology has created new points of weakness: exposing HRDs’/activists’ locations, activities and networks, whilst creating evidence against them through data leaks, digital traces, and direct surveillance.

Attacks on HRDs and activists have escalated over the past ten years, with a significant increase in the number of techniques through the use of computers, cameras, mobiles phones and the internet. This rapidly changing landscape poses continual challenges to practitioners working in the field of security and protection of HRDs, affecting their ability to ensure the safe and reliable flow of crucial information and evidence.

Supporting HRDs

Society’s Changemakers

We recognise Human Rights Defenders as catalysts of social change. Without these voices there is little or no knowledge or agency to protect human rights. The role of HRDs in championing social change is evident. Unfortunately, so are the high risks that they contend with  (see Amnesty Report).

The Hague Hacks provides information that can be of valuable help to HRDs. Our special training courses are designed to equip HRDs with the necessary skills and protocols to safely and effectively pursue their human rights work.

Embracing Diversity

The Hague Peace Projects

Having worked intensively with refugees and human rights defenders who had come to the Netherlands from conflict areas, we recognized in them a powerful catalyst for social change. However, there was no infrastructure for these activists who had become victims of conflict and oppression to continue their work for peace and justice. Rarely did they get involved in the established human rights and development efforts.

Considering this omission as an enormous waste of wisdom and experience, we decided that a new organization needed to be created in order to provide them with the opportunity to continue their work from within their diaspora communities.

Creating ideas

The Hague Hacks Festival

The Hague Hacks Festival is our main ideation (idea creation) event of the year. Here we create a trans-disciplinary exchange where human rights defenders share their experiences and unpack human rights violations in their communities. At the Festival, we bring together expertise from diverse sectors with the goal of capitalizing on cross-sector knowledge to output effective and plausible tech solutions to current human rights issues.

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