Journal Entry – 26 October
So, what is the first thing one does when offered this challenge:
how can we engage the wider public into the process of supporting and advancing initiatives that strengthen human rights mechanisms and structures?
For us, it was to take a step back. There were a plurality of questions that came to mind. But that is to be expected. At least we had a lot to talk about.
If you’re not a big fan of incredibly open-ended questions, things only went from bad to worse. Among our first tasks was to complete a journal entry (yes, what you are reading right now…!) and the prompt is:
what is your potential solution to tackle the challenge provided?
Yep, that’s maybe a step down from – so, how are you (maybe) going to change the world – and again, we had to take a step back. Now it’s time to step up; here it goes.
Engagement is a difficult task. It is predicated on at least two premises; first) you have to be able to convince others of your idea: second) you have to set up enough of a project for others to join. While it may be true that most are convinced of some broad understanding of what the concept “human right” constitutes, there have been few if any successful campaigns to translate that concept into the grounds for action, for engagement. We believe that the first task to get at the challenge will be to move towards developing a reporting mechanism.
Our solution is to develop a mobile app meant to be used by those facing human rights violations. Due to the compressed nature of our timeline, we expect to be able to have a fully developed project proposal prepared for presentation with preliminary background and baseline ready by 6 December. The core of the concept centers on the potential of the graphical user interface model to bridge the linguistic and social gaps that have acted to keep victims from reporting to the relevant authorities. We want to give all users, regardless of linguistic competence, with a tool meant to made the connections that can break the cycles of oppression that ground human rights violations.
Beyond this primary task, we are looking ahead to the ways that the app may be able to ground and fuel public engagement. From being a tool to build public engagement through tracking the number of reports made through the app to being a way to connect those who want to give their time as volunteers to NGOs working in support of efforts to combat human right violation, to give their money to help with legal representation, with the cost of housing and food, with supporting training and employment opportunities. We even envision the graphic user interface becoming a way for people to be able to reach out and communicate through images more broadly, combating the social isolation of those who are victims of human rights violations. So, there are many elements to consider and many questions we are still working to answer. Potential and promise balanced by caution: hopefully, we will be able to create something meaningful.