CVT at RightsCon, a Premier Gathering for Activists | The Center for Victims of Torture

CVT at RightsCon, a Premier Gathering for Activists

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ayman Malhis is digital media coordinator, New Tactics MENA.

How do human rights defenders keep up with all the new thinking, skills and technology for their work? One way is to attend global conferences where experts share their latest insights. I recently had the opportunity to attend one of the best of these. RightsCon is an annual learning event for human rights activists, civil society leaders and tech innovators, held in a new location every year to showcase international cities that champion technology and human rights. Next year’s conference will take place in San José, Costa Rica, but this summer we gathered in Tunis, Tunisia.

CVT’s New Tactics in Human Rights program sent me along with a team including Brent Jensen, online engagement coordinator, to present the Tactical Mapping Tool (TMT) in a session entitled, “Tech Demos: Mischief Managed – Measuring and Mapping for Human Rights.”

In this session, we walked through how the TMT will help attendees to develop a problem statement, vision statement, relationships map, spectrum of allies’ diagram and tactical reports. We discussed how the selected inputs from the case study impacted the way advocacy and targeted action is implemented. We also provided attendees with real-life examples of how the tool has been used, in order to provide context around the implementation of the tool in human rights advocacy efforts.

At RightsCon, 32 rooms held over 400 sessions, with a total of 2,500 participants! I had the chance to network with and attend presentations by many organizations. Those organizations provided a fascinating look at their work and contributions to the field of human rights. Some highlight sessions and organizations were:

  • UC San Diego’s Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA), another presenter in our “Tech Demos” session, introduced the Internet Outage Detection and Analysis (IODA), a new tool that detects outages in internet connectivity in regions around the world precipitated by government-mandated shutdowns.


  • A new tool called the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) monitors a country’s human rights track record, compares it with that of other countries and helps activists apply a data-driven approach to advocacy work. Participants who brought their devices with them were able to follow along simultaneously.


  • This is My Backyard (TIMBY) is safe and speedy tool designed to address complex global issues.


  • The Eye Witness Project (eyeWitness) is a mobile app that allows users to capture and document human rights abuses so that perpetrators can be held accountable.


  • The Tor Browser (Torprevents third parties from following/tracking a user’s browser history. Cookies automatically clear after a user’s session so that the websites they’ve visited remain anonymous.


  • Speakers from Al-Haq, a Palestinian NGO based in Ramallah, discussed the targeting of human rights defenders and their work in Palestine, a situation becoming ever more grave.

Ultimately, the conference was a pleasant experience that added to my knowledge and expanded our team’s outlook. I met people from a great range of countries with a great deal of expertise. It was, without a doubt, an exceptional opportunity for learning, networking and putting yourself out there. I am still in contact with the professionals I met in the conference, and keep checking out news by RightsCon on a daily basis, as I now feel I belong to their mission.



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