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Nextview Event: From personal stories to concept-prototype

“I’ve never done it before. So I think I can do it.”

– Pippi Longstocking

 

By Nina Nout

We held our Nextview Event on June 19 surrounded by inspirational quotes in the beautiful workshop space of the Nextview Design Centre on the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. We had the opportunity to collaborate with Nextview on this ideation session, an innovative company which specializes in combining design thinking and technology. With their expertise and know-how for the day, we designed the first concept-design of our Early Warning System prototype.  Needless to say, it was a very productive day!

We had the pleasure of welcoming people from a variety of fields, from human rights defenders, tech experts, designers, and interested students. Most of our team also attended the event, so we could collaborate with others to create a concept design for our Early Warning System technology.

We started the day with general information on the structure of the event and information about our projects. We also invited human rights defenders to speak about their lives and the importance of ethical technology to support human rights activism. After that, we split up into two groups. We dedicated the rest of the morning to the exploration phase, where we discussed the problem, context and the needs of human rights defenders.

 

Shucheesmita draws attention to important moments in her activist journey using a Journey Map.

 

We created journey maps based on the lived experiences of the human rights defenders present at the event. In one group, we followed the journey of a Bangladeshi feminist activist who became the target of human rights violations. We established the key points in her story and discussed how online harassment against her began and escalated.

In the other group, the journey map detailed the story of a man who shared his story from Islam to atheism online. The subsequent storm of online harassment caused him to quit social media for a number of years. After which, he began to build connections and communicate again on social media, this time more aware of the risks of his activism online and offline.

Even though both journey maps had different stories, we found some distinct similarities between the two stories. The journey maps showed that both human rights defender did not intentionally set out to become activists. Their first activity did not come from a political or activist point, but from personal experience and opinions. This meant that they became aware of the importance of safety and privacy online only at a later stage in their work. The lack of a trustworthy source of information about online safety and what actions to take when they received threats was a common theme in both stories.

Despite the similarities, there were also clear differences. An important point that became clearer during the conversations with human rights defenders was that every human rights defender had different experiences and a threshold for what they considered a “serious” threat.

The nuances that came to light during this day proved the importance of trans-disciplinary design sessions . Offering reliable tech solutions takes more than one hackathon. We need to think, discuss and adapt our projects constantly to bring the separate worlds of human rights and technology  together throughout the problem-solving process. Another quote that we were reminded of at Nextview is the old saying: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” This is also why we need the infrastructure and resources to follow-up with the innovative ideas that come out of ideation sessions to transform them into concrete technologies.

 

One of the groups discuss the shape and characteristics of their Early Warning System technology concept-prototype.

Based on the journey maps, we began to design our tech solutions. Both groups designed variations of the Early Warning System technology. This technology takes into account the individual stories and viewpoints of human rights defenders but also monitors online trends and movements. We have since been busy with the development of these design ideas and have come up with a concept-prototype of the Early Warning System technology. Currently, we are working towards being able to make our first prototype.

Even though it’s summer we have not been sitting still on our other activities either. The Hague Hacks co-organized an informing session for the World Legal Summit on August 1st with The Humanity of Things and The Embassy of Canada to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. We were also invited to speak and educate a dynamic and talented group of youth from CISV about safe practices for activists on social media, as well as guide them through an ideation session to brainstorm new technologies for hate speech online. Several interesting ideas emerged, and the youth were excited about the possibility of seeing these ideas come to life!

We have also begun preparations for our third The Hague Hacks Festival this December. We’re very excited about this, and will update you on the latest news on our blog and our social media channels!

If you are interested in The Hague Hacks, or if you would like to learn more, collaborate, volunteer, or just want to drop a note, we’re happy to hear from you. Send us an email at haguehacks@thehaguepeace.org .

Design for Activism

By Nina Nout

On June 13, we had the pleasure of hosting our Design For Activism lab at the Border Sessions Festival. The goal of the lab was to design a workflow that creates opportunities for tech experts and companies to support human rights activists online. In other words, we wanted to find out how we can engage tech companies long term in order to establish and maintain a sustainable cooperation between human rights defenders and tech companies. In this lab, we also wanted to introduce people to the issues human rights defenders face online, from harassment and arbitrary banning to threats of violence.

We kicked off our lab by getting to know two human rights defenders from Rwanda and Pakistan. Their stories gave us insights into the complicated dynamics of online activism. Technology has been an incredibly powerful tool for them to communicate with others and raise awareness of human rights violations, but it has also exposed them to threats and harassment.

 

Karen van Luttervelt from We Are listens attentively to the stories of our human rights defenders.

 

Online harassment is a worrying trend, as a study conducted in the United States by Pew Research Center (2017) shows. According to Pew, 66% of adult internet users have seen online harassment and 41% have personally experienced it [1]. Among human rights defenders this number may be even higher, as they stand up for the rights of minority groups and victims, resist State and extremists attempts to silence them, and hold existing power structures accountable. Unfortunately, big tech companies have not yet made adequate steps to address and prevent online harassment. An Amnesty International report on online violence against women on Twitter explains: “The company’s failure to meet its responsibilities regarding violence and abuse means that many women are no longer able to express themselves freely on the platform without fear of violence or abuse.” [2]

During the Border Sessions Lab, we used the case of Twitter’s policy on online harassment to demonstrate the power imbalance that human rights defenders’ experiences. We addressed the lived experiences of one of our human rights defenders in detail during a role-play simulation. We divided the group into three smaller groups: human rights defenders, State actors, and Twitter, to discuss how Twitter currently handles online disputes between individuals and the government. This was followed by a discussion about how Twitter could additionally support human rights defenders on their platform. The main question that seemed to form during the discussion was how to translate freedom of expression to an online environment. This showed itself to be a multi-faceted problem. On the one hand Twitter gives human rights defenders a platform to voice their opinions. On the other, the platform enables people to harass and intimidate human rights defenders, as well as spread false information.

The exercise was eye-opening. As we moved further along in the discussion, our participants learned that tech companies frequently use freedom of expression as an excuse not to take action. We also discussed the technological aspects while retaining social understanding of the problem. Another interesting finding was that the human right defenders’ group was overshadowed by the arguments of Twitter and the government. A situation that is also so often the case in real life.

 

Steen Bentall, Head of The Hague Hacks, writes down points discussed during the brainstorming session.

After the simulation we took a short lunch break before we continued with the second part of the day. We split up into two groups to address the question ‘How do we engage tech companies?’. The morning had helped to create a basic understanding of the importance of tech to human rights, and so we built upon this idea during our brainstorming sessions.

We were very happy to see how motivated everyone was to discuss possible solutions. Both of the groups came up with some insightful practical steps and focus points on how to establish and maintain contact with tech companies. The knowledge we acquired from the brainstorm sessions is incredibly valuable. We will incorporate some of the findings into future collaborations with tech companies to ensure support for human rights defenders long-term.

This lab was another example of how important it is for people from different disciplines to come together and talk about tech and human rights. It helped us focus on possible ways of involving tech companies. Our Nextview event also had some great results. We will soon update you on that event too!

If you are interested in The Hague Hacks, or if you would like to learn more, collaborate, volunteer, or just want to drop a note, we’re happy to hear from you. Send us an email at haguehacks@thehaguepeace.org

 

 

References

[1] Online Harassment 2017. (2017). Pew Research Center.

[2] Toxic Twitter – A Toxic Place For Women. (n.d.). Amnesty International.

Onderzoek bevestigt: negatieve berichtgeving over moslims domineert

The Hague Peace Project heeft onderzoek gedaan naar stereotype beeldvorming in de vier grootste kranten van Nederland. Dit was een samenwerking met Stichting NieuwWij en Republiek Allochtonië.

In de beleving van veel Nederlandse moslims maken landelijke media zich regelmatig schuldig aan partijdige, stereotyperende en overmatig negatieve berichtgeving. Deze klachten worden al jaren geuit en zijn ook in verschillende onderzoeken aan de orde gekomen. Het onderzoek Moslims in Nederlandse kranten bouwt voort op deze traditie: de vier grootste Nederlandse kranten zijn drie maanden lang systematisch geanalyseerd. Wat zijn de resultaten? Hieronder staat een samenvatting, hier is het hele rapport te downloaden.

Onderzoeksvraag

De hoofdvraag van het onderzoek is: Hoe worden moslims in Nederlandse kranten geportretteerd? Historicus Tayfun Balçik van The Hague Peace Projects presenteerde op 21 maart in Amsterdam tijdens een bijeenkomst in Pakhuis De Zwijger, in bijzijn van veel publiek en vertegenwoordigers van de Nederlandse journalistiek, de onderzoeksresultaten.

Resultaten

In het onderzoek zijn van november 2018 tot en met januari 2019 alle berichten over moslims in De Telegraaf, Algemeen Dagblad, de Volkskrant en NRC Handelsblad systematisch onderzocht. De kranten hadden in die periode tussen de 573 en 783 berichten waarin het over moslims ging. Deze vijf categorieën komen het meest voor:

  1. ‘Moslimterreur’;
    • 20% van alle berichten over moslims gaat over terrorisme
    • 83% van alle berichten over terrorisme gaat over ‘moslimterrorisme’
  2. ‘Wij-zij nieuws’ – tussen een verondersteld ‘wij’ die vaak als het ‘westen’, ‘de joods-christelijke cultuur’ wordt gedefinieerd en ‘de moslims’ en/of ‘de islam’ die een ‘bedreiging’ vormen vanwege ‘islamisering’, ‘dubbele loyaliteiten’ enz.;
    • 11% van alle berichten over moslims gaat over een botsing tussen culturen
  3. ‘De onvrije moslima’;
    • 8% van alle berichten over moslims gaat over de ‘onvrije moslima’.
  4. ‘Moslims als (ongewenste) migranten/asielzoekers’;
    • 7% van alle berichten over moslims gaat over moslims als ongewenste migranten/asielzoekers.
  5. Pro-diversiteitsberichtgeving (met o.a. berichtgeving over moslimdiscriminatie & diversiteit).
    • 7% van alle berichten over moslims gaat over de diversiteit en de thema’s die spelen binnen de moslimgemeenschap.

Conclusies

Conclusie 1: Negativiteit domineert

De kwantitatieve en kwalitatieve inhoudsanalyse in de periode van 1-11-2018 t/m 31-1-2019 toont aan dat over ‘de moslims’ en/of ‘de islam’ negatieve berichtgeving domineert:

  • Er bestaat een grote consensus bij alle onderzochte kranten over wie ‘terreurdaden’ plegen: individuele moslims en/of moslimgroepen;
  • Het wij/zij denken in termen van ‘het vrije westen’ en ‘de islamitische ander’ is vaak aanwezig in berichtgeving over ‘de moslims’ en/of ‘de islam’;
  • Het stereotype beeld van de ‘onderdrukte moslima’ is vaak aanwezig in berichtgeving over ‘de moslimvrouw’;
  • Moslimimmigratie wordt vooral als een bedreiging gezien en daarom ongewenst.

Deze negatieve zaken komen qua frequentie en intensiteit (taalgebruik) over het algemeen vaker voor in de Telegraaf en het AD dan in de Volkskrant of NRC. Moslims worden in de Telegraaf en het AD vaker met terreur geassocieerd, in deze kranten is het wij/zij denken sterker, wordt moslimmigratie vaker ongewenst beschouwd en komt het stereotype beeld van de onderdrukte moslima veelvuldiger aan bod.

Conclusie 2: Moslimbetrokkenheid in het nieuws heeft vaker een nuancerende werking

Het lijkt erop dat de mate van moslimbetrokkenheid bij de berichtgeving, als nieuwsmakers of als experts dan wel als sprekers namens de moslims, ook bepalend is voor de mate waarin negatief wordt bericht over ‘de moslims’ en/of ‘de islam’.

Hoewel het zeker niet altijd het geval is, geldt het volgende mechanisme bij een meerderheid van de behandelde thema’s: hoe hoger de moslimbetrokkenheid zelf in de nieuwsverhalen, des te minder de negatieve framing.

Dit mechanisme wordt ook bevestigd bij het aanbod van ‘pro-divers nieuws’ in de berichtgeving. In kranten waar de moslimbetrokkenheid hoger is, is er ook meer ‘pro-divers’ nieuws: dat geldt voor de Volkskrant en de NRC.

Lees hier het hele onderzoek.

 

The 2018 General Elections in the DRC – What next?

The 2018 general elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, held on 30th of December, were set out to determine a successor of the long-standing president – Mr. Kabila (Wembi 2017). As a matter of fact, power transfer has never undergone a peaceful process in Congo. In this regard, Mr. Kabila, who ruled as of 2001, attempted with all his might to obstruct the democratic voting processes in the country. The 2011 election which he purportedly won in a legitimate manner, were widely unpopular and considered as mockery and corruption. His last term in office was expected to come to a final end in 2016. However, even when it expired, Kabila did not leave his riling position. Instead, he decided to shift public attention to the chaos in the country and cite it as the primary reason for the government’s inability to organize elections. Thereafter, he consolidated his grip of power for two more consecutive years and ruled against postulations in the Congolese national constitution, while ruthlessly murdering and slamming down pro-democratic movements and demonstrations (The Economist 2019).

In the context of the 2018 general elections in the DRC, Félix Tshisekedi (Union for Democracy and Social Progress) was found out to win the votes on the 10th of January with an overwhelming turnout of 38,6% of the total vote, surpassing his oppositional candidates Martin Fayulu and Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. Importantly, Mr. Fayulu, who was second in the voting turnout, asserted that the vote was set up hastily and was absolutely not representative of the popular political affiliation. He then moved to challenge the outcome of the elections in the Constitutional Court of the DRC. The state’s influential Roman Catholic Church took his side claiming that the official voting turnout was not compliant with the results of its own observations. In this regard, the Church had deployed nearly 40,000 election monitors which, as stated, “place Fayulu as the winner” (Burke 2019). Thereafter, the Constitutional Court came up with a decision on the 19th of January declaring that Fayulu’s challenge to the outcome will not be taken into consideration and shall thereby be deemed invalid. As a result, the victory of Mr. Tshisekedi was upheld and conceived of as indisputable and final.

In relation to the other oppositional leader – Mr. Shadary, prior to the vote, opinion polls revealed an evident popularity of the opposition candidates against Mr. Shadary himself, who was backed by the ruling People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy. He was seen to offer nothing but a continuation of the present grievances facing the country – widespread poverty, rebel cruelties such as rapes and robbery which go unpunished due to ubiquitous corruption and negligence of the officials and government. Nevertheless, Mr. Shadary possessed indisputably advantages as measured against the backdrop of his opposition. That is to say, he instilled fear and terror in voters by commanding police to threaten people with physical violence unless they casted their vote in his favour. What is more, police blocked oppositional campaigns’ marches in the capital and installed presence of soldiers in the Eastern regions, wherein the latter would forcefully “convince” voters to vote for Shadary: “They were telling people that if they did not choose him, they would be stopped and beaten” (The Economist 2019).

Despite the concerted efforts on part of Fayulu and Shadary with their trusted appointees, Félix Tshisekedi was appointed as the 5th President of the DRC on the 24th of January 2019, marking the first, purportedly peaceful transition of power in the state since it gained its independence in 1960 from its former colonizer – Belgium (Burke 2019).

 

References:

Burke, Jason. “Congo Election Runner-up Rejects Tshisekedi Victory as ‘Electoral Coup’.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 10 Jan. 2019, www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/10/congo-election-felix-tshisekedi-declared- winner-in-contentious-result.

“Congo’s Flawed Vote.” The Economist, 5 Jan. 2019, pp. 26–27.

Wembi, Steve. “Uncertainty as DRC Sets Election Date to Replace Kabila.” GCC News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 9 Nov. 2017, www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/uncertainty- drc-sets-election-date-replace-kabila-171109074747003.html.

World Refugee Day 2018

 

Refugee protection under threat: In search for new strategies

 

Refugee protection is under threat. The refugee crisis of 2015 has created anxiety and resentment among host populations and changed the political landscape of many European countries. Right wing and centrist political parties have scapegoated refugee communities to push their nationalist agendas. Challenging the 1951 Geneva Convention has become salonfähig with even mainstream political parties. People have been sent back to war torn countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

How can we turn the tide? In what way does the political discourse on the refugee crisis resonates with the day to day experience of newcomers and local communities?

During this program we will discuss with a.o. Tineke Strik ((Senator and Professor on migration), Valentin Akayezu (lawyer) and Palwasha Hassan (Don’t Send Afghans Back) what is at stake, but more importantly discuss strategies of change on an institutional and foremost individual level. How can we create sustainable long-term solutions for refugees arriving and residing in Europe? Merlijn Twaalfhoven, composer, activist and founder of The Turn Club, will guide the audience in a creative manner towards making individual commitments for the near future.

With a performance by Kamerkoor JIP and Syrian singer and musician Wasim Arslan.

This program is a collaboration of the The Hague Peace Projects, Music and Beyond Foundation, The Turnclub and De Balie.

 

 

De bescherming van vluchtelingen staat onder grote druk. De vluchtelingencrisis van 2015 heeft niet alleen geleid tot veel maatschappelijk onrust, maar ook daadwerklijk het politieke landschap van veel Europese landen veranderd. Vluchtelingen zijn gebruikt als zondebok door rechtse partijen om hun nationalistische ideologie op de agenda te krijgen. Het openlijk in twijfel trekken van de handhaving van de Geneefse Conventie van 1951 wordt niet meer gezien als extreem, maar is zelfs salonfähig geworden bij partijen die zich in het politieke midden bevinden. Mensen worden zonder pardon terug gestuurd naar conflictgebieden als Afghanistan en Irak.

Hoe kunnen we het tij keren? Op wat voor manier verhoudt het politieke discours over de vluchtelingencrisis zich tot de dagelijkse ervaring van nieuwkomers en lokale gemeenschappen?

Tijdens World Refugee Day gaan we in gesprek met o.a. Tineke Strik (lid Eerste Kamer en universitair docent migratie), Valentin Akayezu (rechtsgeleerde) en Palwasha Hassan (Don’t Send Afghans Back) over wat er op het spel staat vanuit een politiek en juridisch perspectief. Daarnaast gaan we met elkaar in gesprek over wat voor strategie er nodig is om het politieke en maatschappelijke tij te keren op een institutioneel, maar vooral ook op individueel niveau. En, wat is er op de lange termijn nodig om op een duurzame manier vluchtelingen in onze maatschappij op te nemen?

Merlijn Twaalfhoven, componist, activist en oprichter van de Turnclub gaat met het publiek in gesprek over de manier waarop je op een creatieve en effectieve manier als individu een verschil kan maken.

Met muziek van Kamerkoor JIP en de Syrische zanger en musicus Wasim Arslan.

Dit programma is een samenwerking van The Hague Peace Projects, Music and Beyond Foundation, The Turnclub en De Balie.

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