Human Rights Team
"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home—so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere."
|Overview||Human Rights and Wikimedia||HRIG||CEE Statement||Digital Safety||Glossary||War in Gaza & Israel|
The Human Rights Team of the Wikimedia Foundation supports volunteers persecuted due to their good faith contribution to the projects and facilitates the organization's commitment to protect and respect the full range of human rights across our projects. The Team operates in the Legal Department.
The Wikimedia Movement aims to ensure that everyone, everywhere can freely and safely share in the sum of free knowledge. To this end, more than 300,000 volunteers add, edit, and update content on Wikimedia projects, working together to provide reliable, well-resourced, and uncensored information.
However, contributors and users of Wikimedia projects can be a target for those who want to control information, sway narratives and silence voices. As a result, Wikimedia volunteers can find themselves intimidated, harassed, surveilled, and persecuted, threatening their safety and obstructing their right to free speech and other fundamental rights (Read more about human rights and how Wikimedians can be threatened here).
The Wikimedia Foundation believes that volunteers under threat should not be left alone. As the Foundation’s Human Rights Team, we are determined to support the safety and security of volunteers who are at risk of persecution, reprisal or harassment for their good faith participation in the Wikimedia Movement.
Who we are and what we do edit
We are a group of dedicated and experienced human rights defenders with diverse regional expertise. Our work focuses on people. We implement solutions to support those under threat for their participation in Wikimedia projects, provide resources for risk-mitigation and build networks of reliable partners who help us support volunteer safety. In doing so, we advance the WMF’s commitment to protect and respect the full range of human rights across all of our projects in-line with the Foundation’s Human Rights Policy. Our work involves three pillars:
Digital Safety edit
Do you leave your door unlocked when you leave your house? Do you publicly walk around with a name tag? Do you use the same key for your car and your office? While many of us are taking measures to stay safe offline, staying safe online comes with new and unfamiliar challenges: Do you use different passwords for different accounts? Do you have a picture of yourself on your userpage? Is your username simply your first and your last name? (Read about how a username can keep you safe.) Being aware of digital safety risks and taking precautionary measures has become extremely important to protect yourself and those around you from surveillance, cyberattacks, and offline harm.
Through digital safety resources, training courses and sessions and regular office hours, the Human Rights Team is here to help you increase your security when participating in Wikimedia projects or being on the Internet more broadly. After all, privacy and digital safety are critical to sustaining freedom of expression and enabling knowledge and ideas to thrive!
Digital safety training edit
Have you ever heard of ‘digital hygiene’, ‘doxxing’ or ‘social engineering’? How do the things you talk about miraculously appear as ads on your feed? Why is free and open source software (FOSS) usually a lot more secure than proprietary software? What is a ‘VPN’ or ‘end-to-end encryption’? Let’s tackle these important questions together! We are in the process of developing a series of digital safety learning modules designed to make you aware of vulnerabilities, guide you in maintaining best practices and be wiser from the get-go.
Digital safety does not have to be a huge burden – it can actually be quite fun! Check out:
- Our curated resource-kit on digital safety.
- To assess your digital safety risks interactively, take our Learn.Wiki course!
- For a quick guide, see this list of digital safety considerations for Wikimedians.
- To support your emotional safety and wellbeing, see this list of multilingual mental wellbeing learning resources and emergency helplines
Human Rights Partners edit
Human rights work is a joint effort. In order to protect our volunteers, the Human Rights Team works with a range of international, regional and national partner organizations. Maintaining and expanding this global network of human rights partners is essential to fill gaps in local expertise, increase capacity and keep community members safe.
Are you an organization passionate about defending open-knowledge, freedom of expression and other fundamental rights? Do you see content gaps on the Wikimedia platform that you would like to fill? Do you have expertise in supporting threatened individuals? Partner with us!
Much like the work that we do and the community we support, the regional and local partnerships we are sustaining are diverse, going from legal support to digital training and from threat monitoring to translation. We are always keen on collaborating to support our threatened community members. Please reach out to us, we look forward to hearing from you at talktohumanrights wikimedia.org.
Human Rights Interest Group edit
Community is an important part of our work to enhance the security of Wikimedians. To this aim, the Human Rights Team is keen on working in close collaboration with Chapters, User Groups, WikiProjects and individual volunteers on establishing and expanding our Human Rights Interest Group (HRIG). The HRIG is a loose group of community members who meet with the Human Rights Team on a semi-regular basis. The HRIG has the following objectives:
- Foster human rights awareness when creating content: Freedom of expression does not mean freedom of consequences – both contributors and people they may have contributed about can face the real life effects of their involvement with Wikimedia projects. To help create awareness, the Human Rights Team offers digital security training, a human rights learning module in regards to its projects and hopes to facilitate community events and edit-a-thons.
- Fill content gaps on human rights: Many Wikimedia projects strive towards content, perspectives and sources with a strict neutral point of view. However, such neutrality is often hindered by systemic biases that come with the shared social and cultural characteristics of editors, often leading to an imbalanced coverage. We see one such imbalance in the field of human rights, wherein the amount and diversity of human rights related content is relatively slim. We hope to help you ensure that the human rights concerns of your country and region are expressed on the various projects, heard within the broader Wikimedia community and understood by the Foundation. If you want to make sure that everyone has access to neutral, fact-based, and current information on human rights, also take a look at the #WikiforHumanRights campaign.
- Stay in touch on human rights: The HRIG creates a platform for ongoing cooperation and dialogue between community members and the Foundation on human rights related issues. Human Rights concerns are not static – they vary from region, community and circumstance and can change from one day to the next. We hope to stay in touch on important issues, come together to think ahead how to increase community safety and spread the word on the importance of human rights.
Does this sound interesting to you? Are you interested in making your community’s human rights related concerns more visible on the projects and to the Foundation? Are you unsure how to stay safe when contributing from a hostile environment? Please reach out to us and sign up here! It would be our honor to invite you to be part of the HRIG interest group and tackle these big challenges together. We look forward to hearing from you at talktohumanrights wikimedia.org or see you during our office hours.
Community Conversation Office-hours edit
The Human Rights and Digital Safety office hours will serve as a space to engage directly with Wikimedia volunteers, affiliates, and anyone who is interested in Wikimedia’s human rights work. The office hours are meant to be a safe space to discuss human rights concerns within your community or have broader dialogues on what human rights mean in the context of Wikimedia. We aim to hold conversation hours every month, the timetable will be shared here.
We will also answer questions you may have on the Human Rights Team’s work and discuss digital safety challenges, how to best mitigate them or even plan curated workshops for your community. Join us! We would love to meet you, hear your thoughts and support you in any way we can.
As the Human Rights Team is in the process of building and refining its workflows, please refer to the established processes of Trust & Safety for your most immediate concerns. If you have any questions, concerns, contributions or suggestions regarding our work and objectives, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have credible threats of physical harm or persecution please email email@example.com
Disclaimer on Case Information edit
In the interest of safeguarding confidential information and ensuring the safety of our community members, the Wikimedia Foundation will not publicly disclose details regarding human rights cases. Our primary concern is to uphold the safety and privacy of everyone involved. Affected individuals or parties may seek clarification directly from the Human Rights Team at firstname.lastname@example.org, but please be aware that we will prioritize the confidentiality and safety of our community members. As such, we won’t divulge any specifics that could compromise individual safety or breach confidential data. Additionally, we will not engage in discussions regarding the merits of the case.