The future of human rights investigations: Using open source intelligence to transform the documentation and discovery of human rights violations

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: School of Law

Abstract

Technology is rapidly transforming how investigations of human rights abuses are carried out. Traditionally, investigations relied upon witness testimony and on-site evidence to prove the existence of human rights violations. More recently, however, human rights investigations have been turning to Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), such as social media content and satellite imagery, to overcome the physical, security, and societal barriers to gathering reliable evidence. In August 2017, the International Criminal Court issued its first arrest warrant based on social media evidence.

OSINT has the potential to democratise the flow of information on international human rights violations in an unprecedented way. By allowing investigations to be carried out remotely, and by enabling information to be received directly from witnesses and victims rather than through intermediaries, OSINT can break down some of the barriers that have silenced some voices in traditional investigations and prioritised others. However, new issues arise with these types of investigations. The huge volume of evidence retrievable from social media can make it difficult for investigators to extract truly useful information. There are further issues of informational bias that can be attributed to algorithmic bias or to misinformation posted online, intended to obfuscate or exaggerate human rights abuses.

By combining a unique multidisciplinary methodology, drawing on socio-legal, computer science, and geospatial analysis methods, this project asks:
"To what extent can OSINT be leveraged to contribute more systematically to human rights investigation and documentation? Can natural language processing and geospatial methods for analysing social media content assist in the discovery and analysis processes, and help overcome potential issues of informational bias and misinformation that may arise?"

It will:
1. Create the first ever overview of the use of OSINT by UN human rights fact-finding missions. Through interviews with members of UN Commissions of Inquiry and human rights investigations (many of whom we have worked with on other projects) and a project workshop, we will identify the barriers and reservations to their use of OSINT. Combining this data with a systematic review of reports produced by these investigations, we will determine the extent to which information gathered through OSINT methods could address some of the informational gaps inherent to traditional investigative methods.
2. Develop, in collaboration with human rights organisations, the Knowledge Hub Framework (KHF), a set of core microservices that will provide tools to gather data and carry out specific analytical tasks, such as comparing documents for similarity, identifying place names within free text and mapping them, and assigning weightings and confidence ratings to data sources based on automated crosschecks, validations, and historical accuracies.
3. Through the KHF, use natural language processing, text mining, and spatial analysis techniques, combined with legal analysis, in a case study to demonstrate how OSINT-based investigations could be made more systematic. Our case study will focus on The Philippines, where mass human rights violations have allegedly occurred, but which is not currently subject to a UN human rights inquiry, and which has witnessed a proliferation of social media accounts spreading counter-narratives about alleged human rights abuses. In a dedicated workshop, we will demonstrate the prototype KHF to stakeholders. We will later offer training sessions for human rights organisations. The Institute for International Criminal Investigations has agreed to host one such training session in The Hague.

As well as the KHF, which will be updated as new functionalities are created, the project will result in three academic journal articles and a Guide to OSINT for Human Rights Organisations. It has the potential to transform human rights fact-finding.

Planned Impact

A. United Nations Commissions of Inquiry, Human Rights Fact-Finding Missions, and Human Rights Non-Governmental Organisations
These organisations are increasingly denied access to affected regions (Kirby, 2014) and as such, are more likely to depend on Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) in the future. They will benefit from our research on this project in three important respects:
1. By mapping the space in which OSINT is used by UN human rights investigative missions, our research will make these organisations aware of the potentials of OSINT;
2. By highlighting the potential issues of informational bias in the use of OSINT, and determining whether systematic methods, as pioneered in our case study, could partly overcome those issues, our research will increase awareness of these issues;
3. Our Knowledge Hub Framework tool will be a useful for these organisations, by automating some of the discovery and verification processes that are currently carried out manually. The Knowledge Hub Framework will be developed in collaboration with organisations that we work with (namely, the Institute for International Criminal Investigations, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Amnesty International). It will be made available for use to them and to other human rights organisations, to whom we will give an access key.

We will ensure that these organisations have the opportunity to benefit from our research through:
1. Publishing three open access journal articles on the use of OSINT by human rights fact-finding missions, which will be widely distributed;
2. Presenting our findings and offering training and support on the Knowledge Hub Framework to OHCHR staff in Geneva and members of the Syria Monitoring Team in Beirut;
3. Interviewing members of missions, and inviting them and other OHCHR representatives to participate in project workshops;
4. Widely sharing the "Guide to OSINT for Human Rights Organisations" that we will prepare, and engaging with news media on our findings.

B. International Criminal Tribunals
These courts are beginning to use OSINT in their prosecution of international crimes (ICC, 2017). There is an acute need to identify and start to overcome issues of informational bias, given that the investigations are increasingly likely to depend on OSINT. In addition, our Knowledge Hub Framework will be a useful tool for investigators. We will conduct training on the tool with the Institute of International Criminal Investigations (IICI) in The Hague, which has agreed to host this training. As with (A) above, we will ensure that these tribunals are provided with a copy of our open-access journal articles and Guide to OSINT, and that staff are invited to participate in workshops. CI Koenig is Chair of the International Criminal Court's Office of the Prosecutor's Technology Advisory Board, providing an invaluable link to the Court, and she will transmit our findings to the Court.

C. Victims of Human Rights Violations
Ultimately, we hope that our findings will lead to enhanced accountability for human rights violations through stronger investigations. We are aware that this may seem like an ambitious goal, but it has been seen in recent situations like Myanmar that, through OSINT, human rights violations that would otherwise have been hidden can be revealed. Our findings will highlight how more systematic methods of gathering and verifying OSINT can be utilized, including through the use of our Knowledge Hub Framework tool, to which human rights organisations will be given access. Our case study on The Philippines will not only provide a test case for the development of the Framework tool and a means to demonstrate its functions, but will also potentially result in information on whether human rights abuses have been committed in The Philippines. We will share our with the International Criminal Court through a briefing paper, if it seems that international crimes may have occurred.
 
Description This project examined the extent to which open source information is currently used in UN-mandated human rights investigations, and the benefits and challenges of open source investigations in this context. Our research revealed the potential beneficial role of open source information in developing an investigation plan; generating lead evidence; overcoming access restrictions, and amplifying marginalized voices. Our research also identified some key challenges, including: cost and resource implications; issues of evidentiary weight; how open source information may influence witness perceptions, and the risks of disinformation. We argued (in Digital Witness, published by Oxford University Press in 2019) that the discovery, verification, and authentication of digital open source information have become critical skills for human rights organisations and human rights lawyers. As such, we have trained over 2000 professionals on open source research methods for human rights over the course of the project.

A key research theme was the issue of bias and 'blind spots' in open source research. This is a theme that was explored further in a dedicated project expert workshop, held in Swansea in April 2019, with participants from a broad range of human rights investigative organisations and academic institutions. At a time when the use of digital open source information is becoming more widespread (a move hastened by Covid-19 and related restrictions on investigators' movements), our research (published in the Journal of International Criminal Justice and Opinio Juris) warned of the cognitive and technical biases that can impact upon open source investigations. At the information-gathering stage, there are particular crimes, regions, and groups of people whose experiences are more likely to be overlooked or hidden in digital open source investigations. When it comes to analysing digital open source information, there is a danger that cognitive and technical biases may influence which information is deemed most relevant and useful to an investigation, and how that information is interpreted. Our research proposed some steps that can be taken to mitigate these risks, and has fed into industry standards (i.e. the 'objectivity' principle of the Berkeley Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations, an initiative led by Co-I Koenig at UC Berkeley in collaboration with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) and training. We found that tools for the automation of investigative tasks, while of great utility to investigators in analysing huge quantities of user-generated evidence, may actually introduce more biases into investigations, and as such should be approached with caution.

On the technical side of the project, we created a Virtual Machine, the 'Knowledge Hub Framework', which allows end-user applications to programmatically access a range of microservices. These tools assist with particular evidence verification and discovery tasks in relation to open source information, including object detection, face recognition and place name recognition. To preserve the confidentiality of evidence and to avoid the need for users to upload their evidence to the cloud, the 'Virtual Machine' format allows users to download the Knowledge Hub Framework to their local machine and run the tools from there. Certain tools developed in this project were also created as Docker images, again allowing them to run locally on users' computers. Natural Language Processing methods were developed to, inter alia, identify place names and detect hate speech.

We tested these technical methods in a series of case studies, namely: The Philippines, Syria, and Armenia/Azerbaijan. In these case studies, we worked closely with human rights organisations to demonstrate the methods developed, customize our tools to ensure their utility to organisations, and provide support and advice on applying these tools/methods.
Exploitation Route Our socio-legal research findings, both the use of open source evidence in practice and the risk of bias in that evidence, have already informed the scholarly literature and practice in the field of human rights investigations (see e.g. citations in: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s42984-020-00008-9 and https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/OHCHR_BerkeleyProtocol.pdf). Team members are frequently invited to present on this research to diverse academic and stakeholder audiences (see 'engagement activities' section).

The technical tools developed in this project provide insight into the potentials of technology to support investigations, and the challenges of creating and sustaining such technology for human rights investigations. In a dedicated project workshop, held online in February 2021, we brought together over 100 people working in tech development, human rights, and academia to provide a space for discussions and the development of future collaborations. The workshop provided a forum to discuss key issues faced by both users and developers, including: data protection and privacy; safety and wellbeing; interoperability between tools, and ensuring the sustainability of tools.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy

URL https://osr4rights.org
 
Description This project has achieved impact with three key stakeholder groups:1. UN human rights bodies and human rights NGOs; 2. International and domestic courts and tribunals, and 3.The general public. 1. UN human rights bodies and human rights NGOs Our research created the first-ever overview of the use of open source information by UN human rights fact-finding missions. Through interviews with representatives from the United Nations OHCHR and UN-mandated fact-finding missions, as well as leading NGOs, a systematic review of primary and secondary sources, and a project workshop, we identified the benefits and challenges of using open source information for human rights investigations. Our journal article on 'mapping the use of open source research in human rights investigations' sets out these findings and analyses the current use of open source evidence in UN-mandated human rights investigations, discussing key issues like institutional buy in; resourcing issues; the provision of training, and the development of relevant methodologies for open source investigations. Our article on 'Open Source Information's Blind Spots' highlighted the various cognitive and technical biases that can impact upon digital open source investigations for human rights. Our outputs on this project, including our journal articles, blog posts, working papers, website, and Guide to Open Source Research (freely available on our website) have been widely disseminated amongst human rights investigators and advocates working with United Nations bodies and in civil society organisations with the aim of informing their practice. We contributed to Amnesty International's free two-part online course on open source investigations for human rights, which is available in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Farsi via the Advocacy Assembly platform. We also created in-depth tutorials (hosted on our project website and YouTube channel) on specific tools, including the 'FaceSearch' tool developed as part of the Knowledge Hub Framework created by this project; using SnapMap to conduct open source human rights investigations, and using TweetDeck for open source human rights investigations. Dubberley, Koenig and Murray edited Digital Witness: Using Open Source Information for Human Rights Investigation, Documentation, and Accountability, which was published by Oxford University Press in 2019. It is the first book of its kind to teach the methods and best-practice of open source research, and features contributions from some of the world's most renowned open source investigators. A launch event for the book in February 2020 was attended by over 250 people from across the human rights NGO world. A podcast of this event is available on our website. We have presented on our research findings by invitation to a wide range of stakeholder organisations, including at workshops convened by various United Nations bodies, NGOs and academic institutions, and attended by representatives of international and local human rights organisations (e.g. Amnesty; Videre est Credere; Witness; International Bar Association; Human Rights Watch), domestic and international courts (e.g. ICC prosecution and defence teams; domestic police forces; Europol, lawyers) and international organisations (UN/EU/OSCE). We have trained an extensive range of human rights organisations on open source research methods. Koenig and her team at the Human Rights Center at the University of California Berkeley developed, in collaboration with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, an International Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations, launched in December 2020, which sets common standards and guidelines for the identification, collection, preservation, verification and analysis of online open source information, with an aim towards improving its effective use in international criminal and human rights investigations. Establishing legal and ethical norms for online open source investigations will professionalize the field and, in doing so, increase the likelihood that such information will be useful for justice and accountability purposes. The Protocol will serve as an invaluable resource for practitioners. The technical tools developed as part of this project have been deployed as part of dedicated case studies working in partnership with local and international organisations. In collaboration with partners in The Philippines, we created a secured incident monitoring platform that allows for submission or recording of victim/witness reports via SMS or Web. The system is designed for localized and customized use in communities who need an ICT-based tool for reporting human rights violations, which allows for verification and validation. Features of the system include its ability to detect emotions and behaviours from narratives through natural language processing, which in turn can signpost users to psychosocial support available through project partner WAPR, and the incorporation of geospatial elements so that incidents can be viewed on a map. In another use case, our FaceSearch tool was used by a partner organisation to try to identify victims from thousands of photos of detainees who were tortured and/or killed in Syria, on the request of families seeking to determine what happened to their loved ones. In a third application of the technical tools developed as part of this project, members of the team developed machine learning-based models for classifying a social media post/message as containing 'hate speech', as defined by the United Nations. The classifiers obtained precision and recall of 96% and 87%, respectively, on a data set of ~25K tweets. We are currently working on a follow-on project, which will package our NLP models into a standalone graphical web-based tool. In a bespoke application designed in collaboration with our partners at Amnesty International, we developed a hybrid (rule and machine learning-based) model for recognising Arabic place names in video descriptions. Using a combination of rules and machine learning, we have been able to address the challenging task of recognising Arabic place names, outperforming the state-of-the-art tools for the same task by at least 17 percentage points (in terms of F-score, the harmonic mean of precision and recall). This tool was used by Amnesty International on an existing dataset. 2. International and domestic courts and tribunals Lawyers working on trials of people alleged to have committed war crimes and/or crimes against humanity have expressed an interest in our research findings. To this end, we co-edited a Special Issue of the Journal of International Criminal Justice (JICJ) on 'New Technologies and the Prosecution of International Crimes', expanding on some of the key issues that can arise. Our own research on bias in open source investigations (McDermott, Koenig and Murray) and on investigating sexual violence with digital open source information (Koenig and Egan) featured as part of this Special Issue. The JICJ is an important reference point for international criminal lawyers. We also hosted an expert webinar on "Open Source Evidence and the Prosecution of International Crimes" in December 2020, with speakers Judge Joanna Korner, recently elected as a Judge of the International Criminal Court; Alan Tieger, Senior Prosecutor, Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor's Office and Lindsay Freeman, Law and Policy Director, Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley School of Law. Over 80 people, from both international and domestic criminal practice as well as representatives from human rights organisations, academia, and international organisations, attended. Partnering with GLAN, Bellingcat, Mnemonic/Yemeni Archive, VFRAME, Huridocs, and Digital Evidence Vault, with funding from Nesta's Collective Intelligence Grants scheme, we developed a database of airstrikes & cluster bomb attacks in Yemen. VFRAME developed computer vision algorithms for the detection and categorisation of videos and pictures that contain indicators of cluster munitions. The user-friendly database brings together key pre-existing technologies to allow online user generated content and private evidence to be stored and viewed together. It enables the cross-referencing of large quantities of evidence and will be available to trusted organisations seeking to promote accountability for violations of international law in Yemen. We have conducted training and outreach with prosecution and defence teams practicing before the International Criminal Court and other international and domestic courts. Notably, a partnership with the Institute of International Criminal Investigations saw team members deliver training to over 40 professionals across two courses, one in person (2020) and one online (2021). Issues surrounding the admissibility and weight of digital open source information have not yet been fully tested in the courts of England and Wales. To that end, we organised (in collaboration with GLAN and Bellingcat) a hearing to explore the admissibility of a piece of online open source evidence in a mock criminal trial. The hearing concerned the admissibility into evidence of a real video depicting an airstrike in Yemen in a fictional trial, with legal arguments put forward by prosecution and defence counsel, witness and expert evidence subjected to cross-examination, and a final judicial determination. This event generated huge interest, with 522 registered participants and close to 400 attendees, including human rights defenders, NGOs, staff from UN investigative bodies, journalists, lawyers practicing in England and Wales, in international courts, and in domestic courts abroad. 3. General public The research team has been active in engaging with a range of national and international media outlets, through interviews on our research outputs and current events that relate to this project. For example, Koenig featured extensively on a video report produced by The Economist entitled, 'The Battle for Truth: Fake News vs. Fact', where she discussed the challenges of open source human rights investigations. In February 2019, McDermott was interviewed by the Today programme, BBC Radio 4's flagship current affairs programme, where she discussed the proliferation of citizen evidence for crimes committed by Islamic State. Our research has also featured in The Washington Post; MIT Tech Review, Foreign Affairs, and Wired, amongst many others. We authored an Opinio Juris blog post on the blind spots of open source information, which garnered almost 14,000 impressions on Twitter. It was shared by a broad range of lawyers, investigators and scholars, with comments such as: "Excellent, nuanced piece on potential biases/blind spots in the context of open source investigations" and "Thought provoking piece about the unintended effects of the new flood of evidence from open source investigations: risk of bias and increased expectations of what an 'investigation' should look like." At an event entitled "Getting to the truth: Using open source data to defend human rights" held at the Houses of Parliament in February 2020, we presented the project's findings. The audience included journalists (Institute for War and Peace Reporting; Thomson Reuters; The Atlantic; BBC; LBC); representatives of government departments (Foreign and Commonwealth Office; HMRC; Office for National Statistics; Government Digital Service) and third sector organisations (Amnesty; International Bar Association; Transparency International; Media Legal Defence Initiative; Chatham House; Liberty), as well as parliamentarians and academic researchers. Our Guide to Open Source Research; YouTube videos of tech demos, tutorials and conversations on research themes, and the Amnesty International online course on open source human rights investigations to which we contributed to are all freely available online to interested members of the public.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Developing a Protocol on Open Source Investigations
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Led by Co-I Koenig, the Human Rights Center at the University of California Berkeley has developed, in collaboration with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, an International Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations, which will set common standards and guidelines for the identification, collection, preservation, verification and analysis of online open source information with an aim towards improving its effective use in international criminal and human rights investigations. Establishing legal and ethical norms for online open source investigations will professionalize the field and, in doing so, increase the likelihood that such information will be useful for justice and accountability purposes. The Protocol will serve as a resource for practitioners, as well as a valuable training and teaching tool for those using OSINT and online investigations to assess security risks, protect witnesses, track fugitives, monitor crime data, develop investigative leads, and collect evidence.
 
Description Development of teaching materials
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The PI (McDermott) teamed up with Linklaters (a leading law firm) to develop a module on 'the Law and AI', which will be provided to new trainee solicitors in the firm from April 2020, before becoming a staple component of the firm's training contract for solicitors. Patrick McCann, global head of learning and development at Linklaters, who is leading the initiative, said: "We want our lawyers of the future to be equipped with a deep understanding of how technology can be deployed in a variety of legal contexts in order to deliver outstanding client service." McDermott gave a guest lecture to Harvard Law School students on 1 April 2020, on the topic of 'Open Source Evidence and Human Rights Investigations', together with Nick Waters from Bellingcat.
URL https://www.thelawyer.com/linklaters-brings-in-academics-to-school-trainees-in-legal-tech/
 
Description Training of human rights professionals
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Over the course of this project, members of our team have trained over 2000 professionals in conducting open source human rights investigations, through the following activities: 1. Dubberley led the creation of, and other team members contributed to, Amnesty International's free-to-anyone two-part online course (MOOC) on the basics of open source investigations for human rights, launched in January 2021. This course is available in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Farsi. 1200 people signed up to take this course in its first month alone. 2. Open Source Investigations courses, designed and delivered with the Institute of International Criminal Investigations (IICI), were attended by 24 professionals in December 2019 (in-person course in The Hague) and 22 professionals in January 2021 (online course). Another in-person course, designed and delivered in collaboration with Berkeley Center for Advanced Media trained 24 professionals in January 2020. 3. OSR4Rights workshops, webinars, and events have been attended by over 400 professionals, from UN organisations, international courts, domestic legal practice, NGOs, academia, and members of police forces. 4. Bespoke training has been delivered to over 250 undergraduate and postgraduate student researchers working with Amnesty International's Digital Verification Corps since 2018. 5. Koenig and her team at the Human Rights Center have trained approximately 200 professionals on the Berkeley Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations, including: Interpol, various UN groups, ICC prosecution and defense teams, and various domestic and European legal teams. 6. We have provided bespoke advice and presentations to UN bodies, NGOs, lawyers, and academics, including coordinating and leading trainings for human rights teams in Chile and Brazil, Amnesty and OSF in Latin America and Caribbean; as well as for expat Uyghur and Syrian communities. 7. We have developed specific tutorials and materials on open source investigations for human rights, including a "Guide to Open Source Research" for human rights professionals seeking to start to employ open source research methods in their work, freely available on the OSR4Rights project website. Our YouTube channel contains useful tutorials, tech demos, webinars and conversations on open source investigations for human rights. 8. Dubberley has delivered training on vicarious trauma for Forensic Architecture, the IBA (Eyewitness to Atrocities team), and SITU Research. 9. We have provided bespoke training and assistance on using the technical tools developed in this project to the NGO groups using those tools.
URL http://osr4rights.org/
 
Description CHERISH DE Escalator fund: Building a Digital Evidence Database
Amount £14,980 (GBP)
Organisation Swansea University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2018 
End 12/2018
 
Description Designing a Secure Helpline for Reporting Unlawful Killings in the Philippines (supported by Swansea University's GCRF and Cherish-DE funds)
Amount £25,324 (GBP)
Organisation Swansea University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2020 
End 09/2020
 
Description Developing the Knowledge Hub Framework - a tool for open source human rights investigations
Amount £34,682 (GBP)
Organisation Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2020 
End 07/2021
 
Description Human Rights and Trust in Evidence in the Digital Era
Amount £2,730 (GBP)
Organisation Universities UK 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2021 
End 10/2021
 
Description Nesta Collective Intelligence Grants: Documenting mass human rights violations through collective intelligence
Amount £20,000 (GBP)
Organisation Nesta 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2019 
End 03/2020
 
Description Supporting the Identification of Social Media Hate Crimes using Natural Language Processing - ESRC IAA
Amount £20,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Manchester 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2021 
End 05/2021
 
Description What does Artificial Intelligence Mean for the Future of Democratic Society? Examining the societal impact of AI and whether human rights can respond
Amount £1,000,000 (GBP)
Organisation United Kingdom Research and Innovation 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2021 
End 01/2025
 
Title FaceSearch 
Description Docker-based tool specifically created to assist victims from the Syrian conflict to locate their missing relatives in a collection of photographs of detainees. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Our FaceSearch tool was used by a partner organisation to try to identify victims from thousands of photos of detainees who were tortured and/or killed in Syria, on the request of families seeking to determine what happened to their loved ones. Unfortunately, the differences between the detainees' appearances (many of whom had been subjected to torture) and their appearances in their families' photographs of them, meant that FaceSearch was unable to find many matches in that instance. 
URL https://youtu.be/4znGnGSmbjY
 
Title Hate Speech Detection models 
Description The team developed social media post classifiers: machine learning-based models for classifying a social media post/message as containing 'hate speech', defined by the United Nations as 'communication that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender or other identity factor'. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The classifiers obtained precision and recall of 96% and 87%, respectively, on a data set of ~25K tweets. We are currently working on a follow-on project, which will package our NLP methods into a graphical web-based tool. 
URL https://osr4rights.org/technical-tools/
 
Title Identifying Arabic place names in a dataset of videos 
Description In a bespoke application designed in collaboration with our partners at Amnesty International, we developed a hybrid (rule and machine learning-based) model for recognising Arabic place names in video descriptions. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Using a combination of rules and machine learning, we have been able to address the challenging task of recognising Arabic place names, outperforming the state-of-the-art tools for the same task by at least 17 percentage points (in terms of F-score, the harmonic mean of precision and recall). This tool was tested by Amnesty International on an existing dataset. 
URL https://osr4rights.org/technical-tools/
 
Title Knowledge Hub Framework 
Description We created a Virtual Machine, the 'Knowledge Hub Framework', a VirtualBox Virtual Machine based on Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS (Bionic Beaver) Install includes: Python3, pip3, tweepy, numpy, scipy, gensim, psycopg2, python3-opencv, face_recognition, websockets, pandas, matlibplot, sklearn, seaborn - https://www.python.org/ R, R studio - https://www.rstudio.com/ Ruby - https://www.ruby-lang.org/en/ GRASS GIS - https://grass.osgeo.org/ PostgreSQL, pgAdmin4, postgis, pgrouting - https://www.postgresql.org/ NodeJS, NPM - https://nodejs.org/en/ Node-Red (set up as background service) - https://github.com/node-red/node-red access UI locally from web browser on 127.0.0.1:1880 help on core nodes found here: http://noderedguide.com/node-red-lecture-4-a-tour-of-the-core-nodes/ Apache2 with CGI enabled - https://httpd.apache.org/ Mapserver (CGI) - https://mapserver.org/ PHP - http://www.php.net/ Tensorflow for Python2.x - https://www.tensorflow.org/install/ VLC (video player), GIMP (image manipulation), Audacity (sound edit tool) ffmpeg Dejavu audio tool - https://github.com/worldveil/dejavu Computer Vision Applications Installed Places365 - https://github.com/CSAILVision/places365/blob/master/run_placesCNN_unified.py + http://places2.csail.mit.edu/demo.html YOLO - https://www.arunponnusamy.com/yolo-object-detection-opencv-python.html + https://timebutt.github.io/static/how-to-train-yolov2-to-detect-custom-objects/ Databases Geonames - download and install a local copy in PostgreSQL using Ruby script (/tools/other/ruby/download_geonames.rb) https://gist.github.com/kaspergrubbe/b0f87329319e6442d676c0edbf635be9 (or restore from pg backup file: geonames_backup) VM folders: /tools - for custom tools and scripts /data - for language dictionaries, GIS data etc used by the tools /workspace/input -- for files and images to be scanned /workspace/output -- for output from running the tools /workspace/tmp -- used by the tools in processing the files 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The KHF allows end-user applications to programmatically access a range of microservices. These tools assist with particular evidence verification and discovery tasks in relation to open source information, including object detection, face recognition and place name recognition. To preserve the confidentiality of evidence and to avoid the need for users to upload their evidence to the cloud, the 'Virtual Machine' format allows users to download the Knowledge Hub Framework to their local machine and run the tools from there. We are currently working on a cloud-based version of the Virtual Machine. 
URL https://www.timemirror.com/downloads/osint4rights-vm
 
Title The future of human rights investigations: Using open source intelligence to transform the documentation and discovery of human rights violations 
Description This data collection contains transcripts of interviews carried out with experienced human rights investigators. Throughout these semi-structured interviews, participants were invited to share their views and experiences on: - the extent to which OSINT has affected investigative practices; - the representativeness of open source research sources to affected populations; - the tools that assist in data gathering and verification; and - the challenges and opportunities presented by this type of evidence. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Dataset is currently being finalised for deposit to the UK Data Archive. 
 
Description Collaboration with Amnesty International 
Organisation Amnesty International
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution A team at the University of Manchester, under the supervision of Co-I Batista-Navarro, conducted Natural Language Processing research, in partnership with Amnesty International's Digital Verification Corps. This research serves as an illustration of how NLP can be used to filter evidence (in this instance, YouTube videos) of war crimes. Amnesty International's Evidence Lab, based in the Crisis Response Programme, has tested the Knowledge Hub Framework as part of its mission to test and experiment with new methodologies for human rights research and using new technologies in doing so. The KHF has been tested as part of the investigations that Amnesty has done into the upswing in protests around the globe, and Amnesty's team has provided feedback to the KHF researchers on the effectiveness of its use in Amnesty's mission to both monitor human rights abuses during the protests, and test and use new methodologies in its work.
Collaborator Contribution Amnesty provided relevant data, and tested the tools and methodologies that we have developed as part of this project. Amnesty's International Evidence Lab has provided feedback on how these tools and methods could be improved in helping it and other human rights organisations in its work on monitoring and documenting human rights abuses. In 2020, Batista-Navarro (Co-I), McDermott (PI) and Ikoro (post-doctoral research assistant) submitted an application to the University of Manchester's ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, for a collaborative project with Amnesty International. The proposed project (if funded) will build upon this project's research findings on hate speech detection. Amnesty has offered to host three workshops and test the tool to be developed.
Impact The primary outcome has been the strengthening and development of the methodologies (including NLP methods) and tools developed as part of this project, particularly the Knowledge Hub Framework tool. The research is multi-disciplinary: bringing together law, human rights, and computer science.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Collaboration with GLAN (Global Legal Action Network) 
Organisation GLAN Law
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution GLAN is a legal NGO that plays a leading role in taking innovative legal actions to ensure accountability for human rights violations worldwide. In July 2018, we co-convened an expert workshop on Best Practices in Building Evidence Databases for Human Rights Investigations, which informs the present research project. PI McDermott and Co-I Murray took part in the expert workshop, together with the project consultant, Dubberley. The PI collaborated with GLAN on an application to Nesta's Collective Intelligence Grants scheme for a project, 'Documenting mass human rights violations through collective intelligence', which builds on some of the key findings from this research project to examine the potentials of a collective intelligence approach to human rights investigations.
Collaborator Contribution GLAN's pioneering work involves collecting both open source and closed evidence of human rights violations in Yemen in order to take a legal challenge through the UK's court system. To support this work, a secure means to manage this collection of evidence had to be created. The PI advised on admissibility requirements to inform the creation of a secure evidence database, which was enabled by further funding from Nesta. In August 2019, GLAN, working together with a Yemeni partner, Mwatana for Human Rights, submitted a detailed dossier of evidence to the UK Government, showing the extent of unlawful attacks carried out by the Saudi/UAE-led coalition in Yemen, and arguing that the evidence shows that the UK government must cease the sale of weapons to Yemen. Having appropriate evidence management systems in place enabled GLAN and Mwatana to work together to analyse the facts and the law governing the Coalition's actions in Yemen. Mwatana conducts field investigations at the sites of alleged airstrikes, interviewing witnesses and collecting photographic evidence. GLAN used open source evidence to add to the body of evidence gathered by Mwatana. Preparations are underway for the first legal action to be taken (by GLAN) using the database, which will then be shared with other trusted organisations.
Impact This collaboration is interdisciplinary in nature, as it sits on the boundary between law and computer science. The collaboration has allowed us to test the possibility of introducing open source evidence of mass human rights violations in legal proceedings before the courts in England and Wales. The integration achieved in the Nesta project has been recognised as a sector-leading approach, which has garnered a lot of attention from fellow human rights organisations (Centre for Human Rights Science, 2019; Finch, 2019). In 2021, we co-hosted (together with Bellingcat) a mock admissibility hearing on the admissibility of open source evidence. The hearing concerned the admissibility into evidence of a real video depicting an airstrike in Yemen in a fictional trial, with legal arguments put forward by prosecution and defence counsel, witness and expert evidence subjected to cross-examination, and a final judicial determination. This event was attended by over 300 people, including practicing lawyers, human rights advocates, staff of international fact-finding missions and human rights NGOs. Proceedings were presided over by Her Honour Judge Joanna Korner CMG QC, with prosecution and defence counsel teams led by: Helen Malcolm QC and Andrew Cayley QC, together with junior counsel Joshua Kern (9 Bedford Row) and Shina Animashaun (Garden Court Chambers).
Start Year 2018
 
Description Collaboration with UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 
Organisation United Nations (UN)
Department Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Country Switzerland 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The research team have worked closely with staff from the OHCHR over the course of this project. In particular, Co-I Koenig and a team based at UC Berkeley led the creation on an international protocol on digital open source investigations, to which other members of the research team have had input. The Protocol was finalised in 2020, and officially launched at a special event to honor the 75th Anniversary of Nuremberg Trials in December 2020. It will be available in all of the languages of the United Nations, and aims to set common global standards for using public, digital content-including photographs and film-as evidence to strengthen a new era in accountability for violations of international criminal, humanitarian, and human rights law.
Collaborator Contribution - Collaboration on the International Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations - Extensive participation at workshops and project events - Staff members were interviewed by the PI and Co-Is (Murray and Koenig) for an empirical inquiry into how online open source information can strengthen the investigation and prosecution of mass human rights violations.
Impact International protocol on digital open source investigations; 3 x academic journal articles
Start Year 2019
 
Description Collaboration with organisations in The Philippines 
Organisation Ateneo de Manila University
Country Philippines 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution In partnership with Ateneo de Manila University, The Philippines and WAPR, we created a secured incident monitoring platform that allows for submission or recording of victim/witness reports via SMS or Web. The system is designed for localized and customized use in communities who need an ICT-based Human Rights Violation reporting tool which allows for verification and validation. Features of the system including its ability to detect emotions and behaviours from narratives through natural language processing, which in turn can signpost users to psychosocial support available, and the incorporation of geospatial elements so that incidents can be viewed on a map. This project received financial support from Swansea University's GCRF and Cherish-DE research funds.
Collaborator Contribution Ateneo de Manila University developed a platform underpinned by blockchain technology, which integrated the NLP tools to be developed by the Co-I (Batista-Navarro) and post-doctoral researcher from this project. WAPR-Philippines are the project partner who tested and utilise the platform to be developed.
Impact Interdisciplinary (Law/Computer Science) collaboration. Outcomes include the creation of a secure incident monitoring platform underpinned by blockchain and NLP sentiment detection methods.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Collaboration with organisations in The Philippines 
Organisation World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation
Country India 
Sector Learned Society 
PI Contribution In partnership with Ateneo de Manila University, The Philippines and WAPR, we created a secured incident monitoring platform that allows for submission or recording of victim/witness reports via SMS or Web. The system is designed for localized and customized use in communities who need an ICT-based Human Rights Violation reporting tool which allows for verification and validation. Features of the system including its ability to detect emotions and behaviours from narratives through natural language processing, which in turn can signpost users to psychosocial support available, and the incorporation of geospatial elements so that incidents can be viewed on a map. This project received financial support from Swansea University's GCRF and Cherish-DE research funds.
Collaborator Contribution Ateneo de Manila University developed a platform underpinned by blockchain technology, which integrated the NLP tools to be developed by the Co-I (Batista-Navarro) and post-doctoral researcher from this project. WAPR-Philippines are the project partner who tested and utilise the platform to be developed.
Impact Interdisciplinary (Law/Computer Science) collaboration. Outcomes include the creation of a secure incident monitoring platform underpinned by blockchain and NLP sentiment detection methods.
Start Year 2019
 
Title Machine-learning based models for NLP tasks 
Description Three types of new NLP tools have been developed: a. New machine-learning based models for hate speech detection b. "In Today's Hate", a web application that detects hate speech from tweets in real-time c. A hybrid (rule and machine learning-based) model for recognising Arabic place names These will be or have been incorporated into the KHF virtual machine. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2019 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Using a combination of rules and machine learning, we have been able to address the challenging task of recognising Arabic names of places, outperforming the state-of-the-art tools for the same task by at least 17 percentage points (in terms of F-score, the harmonic mean of precision and recall). This tool was tested by Amnesty International on an existing dataset. Social media post classifiers (machine learning-based models for classifying a social media post/message as containing hate or not) obtained precision and recall of 96% and 87%, respectively, on a data set of ~25K tweets. The next step is to package our classifiers into a tool that will be usable by human rights investigators. To this end, we shall develop a web application with a graphical user interface, following the requirements of Amnesty International. We will also provide well-documented web services that will allow for programmatic access to the classifiers. 
 
Title Virtual Machine with a collection of open source software and custom tools for integration on which to build the KHF 
Description A Linux Virtual Machine with the following tools and applications installed: Python3, pip3, tweepy, numpy, scipy, gensim, psycopg2, python3-opencv, face_recognition, websockets, pandas, matlibplot, sklearn, seaborn - https://www.python.org/ R, R studio - https://www.rstudio.com/ Ruby - https://www.ruby-lang.org/en/ GRASS GIS - https://grass.osgeo.org/ PostgreSQL, pgAdmin4, postgis, pgrouting - https://www.postgresql.org/ NodeJS, NPM - https://nodejs.org/en/ Node-Red (set up as background service) - https://github.com/node-red/node-red access UI locally from web browser on 127.0.0.1:1880 help on core nodes found here: http://noderedguide.com/node-red-lecture-4-a-tour-of-the-core-nodes/ Apache2 with CGI enabled - https://httpd.apache.org/ Mapserver (CGI) - https://mapserver.org/ PHP - http://www.php.net/ Tensorflow for Python2.x - https://www.tensorflow.org/install/ VLC (video player), GIMP (image manipulation), Audacity (sound edit tool) ffmpeg Dejavu audio tool - https://github.com/worldveil/dejavu Computer Vision Applications Installed Places365 - https://github.com/CSAILVision/places365/blob/master/run_placesCNN_unified.py + http://places2.csail.mit.edu/demo.html YOLO - https://www.arunponnusamy.com/yolo-object-detection-opencv-python.html + https://timebutt.github.io/static/how-to-train-yolov2-to-detect-custom-objects/ 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2018 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact This VM will be used as the basis to build the Knowledge Hub Framework (KHF). 
URL https://www.timemirror.com/downloads/osint4rights-vm
 
Description AI for Social Impact conference/research 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Human Rights Center's Human Rights and Business Initiative co-hosted a conference with UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business and Microsoft on "Artificial Intelligence for Social Impact" all day on March 7 2019. Co-I Koenig moderated a conversation on the ways that artificial intelligence is impacting the human rights of children globally. She is currently supervising a research team at UC Berkeley who are doing research into that topic. The research team presented their case studies at the conference and hope to release a report in Spring 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
 
Description Appearance on the Today Programme, BBC Radio 4 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact PI McDermott was interviewed by John Humphrys on the BBC's flagship news and current affairs programme, Today, on Friday 15 February. In the context of a discussion on the prosecution of foreign fighters and those responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria, McDermott discussed the breakthroughs provided by 'citizen evidence' (the subject of the current project), and the challenges of using that evidence to prosecute serious international crimes. This sparked a related question from Humphrys to McDermott's co-panellist, Clive Walker from Human Rights Watch.

The Today programme reaches over 7 million listeners per week.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0002hxp
 
Description Book launch: Digital Witness: Using Open Source Information for Human Rights Investigation, Documentation, and Accountability 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact OSR4RIGHTS team members Sam Dubberley, Alexa Koening and Daragh Murray launched their co-edited book Digital Witness: Using Open Source Information for Human Rights Investigation, Documentation, and Accountability with a sold-out event at Amnesty UK's office in London. The audience of 250 people - from across academia and the human rights NGO world - heard presentations about the book from Kate Allen, the head of Amnesty UK, and Clare Algar, the senior director for research at Amnesty International, as well as chapter authors from the Syrian Archive, UC, Berkeley Human Rights Centre, the Centre for Governance and Human Rights at the University of Cambridge, and the human rights NGO WITNESS. Attendees included representatives from organisations including: Videre es Credere, Eyewitness to Atrocities, Forensic Architecture, First Draft News, Reuters, Global Investigative Journalists Network, and NBC News.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/groundbreaking-book-open-source-investigation-be-launched-...
 
Description Briefing at Houses of Parliament organised by Foreign Policy Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Co-I Murray presented the project's key findings at an event entitled "Getting to the truth: Using open source data to defend human rights" at the Houses of Parliament in February 2020. The other panellists were Co-I Koenig and project consultant Dubberley, and MP Chris Bryant. The event was chaired by Anne Koch of the Global Investigative Journalism Network. Dubberley discussed the issues surrounding the volume of evidence, while Koenig spoke about how facts are under attack and how people in the human rights space can build trust in facts in this new age of open source data. Murray presented this project's findings on the role of open source data as lead and corroborating evidence; OSINT's potential to allow access to sites that investigators could otherwise not reach, and the role of OSINT in shaping advocacy strategies and narratives.

The audience included journalists (Institute for War and Peace Reporting; Thomson Reuters; The Atlantic; BBC; LBC); representatives of government departments (Foreign and Commonwealth Office; HMRC; Office for National Statistics; Government Digital Service) and third sector organisations (Amnesty; International Bar Association; Transparency International; Media Legal Defence Initiative; Chatham House; Liberty), as well as parliamentarians and academic researchers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://fpc.org.uk/events/getting-to-the-truth-using-open-source-data-to-defend-human-rights/
 
Description CogX talk: Exploring the Interplay between AI and Collective Intelligence 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact McDermott appeared on the "Cutting Edge" stage of CogX. CogX is the world's leading Festival of AI & Emerging Technology, with over 15,000 people in attendance from the highest levels of business, government, industry and research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Engagement with Amnesty International to support their investigations into human rights violations, using open source methods. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A team at the University of Essex supported Amnesty International's investigations into human rights violations by providing support with respect to the verification of open source materials, and facilitating broader lines of investigation. A key element of this support was work on a large scale investigation into the coalition attacks on Raqqa - during its liberation from ISIS - in order to identify civilian casualties. The immediate actor engaged with was Amnesty International, but the outcome of this report (due to be released end of April) will be targeted towards a significantly larger public, addressing both policy makers and the general public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Engagement with two UN Commissions of Inquiry. For this engagement we supported the investigative process for two UN Commissions of Inquiry by conducting open source investigations in support of their broader investigative plan. The specific Commissions are subject to a non-disclosure agreement. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We developed a relationship with two UN Commissions of Inquiry to support their investigations into human rights violations. Myself and a team of students at Essex worked on open source investigations and the verification of open source information, in order to both provide leads to the UN Commissions of Inquiry and to support specific elements of their investigations. The UN Commissions of Inquiry are subject to non-disclosure agreements and so cannot be named. The specific audience engaged with was the UN Commission of Inquiry investigative team, but the impact of their work is significantly broader, a principal audience of which is State-level policy makers at the UN Human Rights Council.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
 
Description Ethics and open source investigations workshop, Berkeley, January 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Co-I (Koenig) and project consultant (Dubberley) organised a workshop in January 2020, which was held at UC Berkeley. The goal of the workshop was to provide feedback on and discuss next steps relevant to a set of guidelines that aim to address several ethical considerations that have emerged in the field of open source investigations (whether conducted for journalism, human rights reporting, or legal fact-finding). The expert workshop was attended by human rights investigators, journalists, lawyers and academics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Interview (Wired) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The PI (McDermott) was interviewed by Chris Stoekl-Walker for a story on 'How digital sleuths unravelled the mystery of Iran's plane crash' in January 2020.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.wired.co.uk/article/iran-plane-crash-news
 
Description Interview for Declarations podcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Project consultant, Sam Dubberley, was interviewed for an episode of Declarations: The Human Rights Podcast entitled 'What Can Maps, Twitter, and the Crowd do for Human Rights?', in which he discussed the use of open source evidence for human rights research and, amongst other things, the asymmetries inherent in open source research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://anchor.fm/declarations/episodes/What-Can-Maps--Twitter--and-the-Crowd-do-for-Human-Rights--w...
 
Description Interview for The Economist 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Co-I, Alexa Koenig, was interviewed by The Economist for a video report entitled. 'The battle for truth: fake news v fact'. This video, with the caption 'Smartphones and digital platforms are enabling people to watch the state-uncovering lies and holding the powerful to account. Evidence from open-source investigations is now being used by the United Nations and The International Criminal Court.'. examined the use of open source evidence for human rights investigations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM1ZAFcu1Vc
 
Description Interview for Washington Post 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact PI (Dr McDermott) interviewed by the Washington Post on the use of open source evidence by UN fact-finding bodies and quoted extensively in resulting article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/un-rights-investigators-comb-new-conflict-zone-internet-hate-speech/2018/11/25/cd83d5b2-dc50-11e8-b3f0-62607289efee_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.cef16076ad72
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/un-rights-investigators-comb-new-conflict-zone-int...
 
Description Interview with FFWD magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The PI (McDermott) was interviewed by Sanjana Varghese of FFWD for a story on 'takedowns' by social media companies and their impact on human rights fact-finding: 'YouTube's Drive to Clean Up its Platform is Erasing Vital Evidence of Potential War Crimes'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://ffwd.medium.com/youtubes-drive-to-clean-up-its-platform-is-erasing-vital-evidence-for-open-s...
 
Description Meeting with Open Society Foundations lawyers 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact On 31 January 2019, Co-I Koenig presented on and met with lawyers at Open Society Foundations in New York City. Koenig participated in three projects: 1) a panel on the ways that open source information can be helpful to disseminating information about human rights abuses and war crimes to the public and building case files for possible accountability (joined by colleagues from the Syrian Archive, SFOR, and the New York Times); 2) she led a workshop with Haley Willis (one of the team manager from UC Berkeley's Human Rights Center) to provide an introductory training on how to conduct open source investigations; and 3) she consulted with their legal teams on the kinds of open source content that could be helpful to their cases.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Participation in OHCHR Expert Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project consultant, Sam Dubberley, represented the project at an Expert Roundtable on "Using Tech Innovation to Combat Conflict-related sexual violence", which took place on 18 and 19 February 2019. The Expert Roundtable was organised by OHCHR and Legal Action Worldwide, and brought together experts in the tech innovation space with those working on prevention and response to sexual violence in conflict to discuss how technology may be used to better respond and to contribute to the prevention of conflict-related sexual violence in fragile and conflict-affected contexts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description RightsCon 2019 roundtable: Responding to Mass Atrocities in the Digital Age: Challenges and Lessons Learned from Myanmar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The PI (McDermott) co-organised a roundtable at RightsCon 2019 (with Dr. Barrie Sander, Fundação Getulio Vargas, Brazil) on the issue of accountability for mass atrocities in a digital age. Drawing on the events in Myanmar, participants were invited to discuss two core questions:

1. What is the key lesson we can take from the Myanmar Fact-Finding Mission's work on the use of social media evidence for human rights investigations?

2. What are the responsibilities of social media companies to prevent, detect and/or remove hate speech, giving particular consideration to the trade-off between freedom of expression and policing hate speech, as well as the kinds of accountability mechanisms that may be applied to direct perpetrators and the platforms they rely upon to spread hate speech in practice?

Panellists included David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression and a member of the Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, Chris Sidoti.

A symposium of posts was published on the Opinio Juris international law blog in December 2019 following this roundtable.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://rightscon2019.sched.com/event/Pvjl/responding-to-mass-atrocities-in-the-digital-age-challeng...
 
Description Talk at Harvard Law School 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact McDermott presented (together with colleagues from Bellingcat) to the Harvard Law School Advocates for Human Rights group, advising them on their research involving open source information.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Talk to Royal College of Art - The Grand Challenge programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact McDermott presented a lecture on the extent to which open source evidence is transforming human rights fact-finding, and how technology can help overcome some of the barriers to its use in legal accountability processes as part of the Royal College of Art's 'Grand Challenge' series of talks. The Grand Challenge is an interdisciplinary project that gives MA students across the RCA's School of Design the opportunity to work collaboratively with other disciplines, including: Design Products, Fashion, Global Innovation Design, Innovation Design Engineering, Service Design and Textiles. Students work in interdisciplinary teams over four weeks to find solutions to a series of different global issues.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description TechDemo: RightsCon 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Co-I Batista-Navarro and post-doctoral researcher Ikoro presented a 'TechDemo' of our Knowledge Hub Framework tool at RightsCon Tunis in June 2019. RightsCon is the world's leading human rights and technology conference. Members of the audience expressed an interest in the early prototype of the tool presented, including requests for further information on the tool as it develops. This, in turn, led to new connections being established and further demos presented to interested persons via video-conference after the conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://rightscon2019.sched.com/event/Pw0z/tech-demos-open-source-for-business
 
Description Workshop on Tech Development for Human Rights Investigations 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact The workshop aimed to provide a space for discussions and the development of potential collaborations between tool developers and potential users from human rights organisations. It also provided a forum to discuss key issues faced by both parties, including like data protection and privacy; safety and wellbeing; interoperability between tools, and ensuring the sustainability of tools. At the time of the workshop, internet shutdowns had been particularly prevalent in two recent contexts: the elections in Uganda and the military coup in Myanmar. In this context, the workshop programme also incorporated a training session on 'top tips' for documenting in an internet shutdown (with Yvonne Ng, WITNESS) and choosing a documentation app (with Wendy Betts, International Bar Association).

5-minute 'tech demos', followed by 10 minutes of Q & A and discussion, were interspersed with discussions on key common themes. The tech demo components were recorded and are available upon request. Under Chatham House Rules, those present at the workshop discussed key shared issues in our work, including:

- Protecting the rights of human rights defenders and documenters;
- Data protection, cloud storage, and privacy;
- Protecting researcher wellbeing and supporting 'resilience by design';
- The interoperability of tools and ways to get tools to 'talk to one another';
- Bespoke solutions for specific contexts vs. designing tools with broad utility;
- Ensuring the longevity and sustainability of tools;
- Licensing agreements;
- Barriers to tool adaptation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://osr4rights.org/workshop-2/
 
Description Workshop: Ensuring Representativeness in Open Source Human Rights Investigations, Swansea, April 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A project workshop took place in Swansea in April 2019, which was attended by 25 participants from organisations including the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; Human Rights Watch; Amnesty International; EyeWitness; Syrian Archive; Legal Action Worldwide and Deutsche Welle, and a range of Universities including Cambridge, Essex, Berkeley, Leiden, Manchester, Herriot-Watt, and Swansea, amongst others. Participants engaged in a fruitful discussion on the issues surrounding the representativeness of OSINT, and its potential 'blind spots' when used to shape and inform investigations of mass human rights violations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019