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  • Writer's pictureJason

The Forum On Human Rights, A Community For Human Rights Defenders

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

In President Jimmy Carter's 2014 book, "A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power", he suggests an online gathering place where human rights defenders around the world could collaborate and learn from each other. In 2016 I was honored to be hired as the Web Communications Specialist at The Carter Center to complete development of the platform then known as The Forum On Women, Religion, Violence, and Power and get it off the ground.

After reviewing several CMS', I selected Drupal for its security and open sourcing. Then I selected and managed the platform's development and support vendors, and set the strategy. Following launch, I produced content to sustain the online community with occasional help from college interns who I hired and managed.

Eventually changing its name to The Forum On Human Rights to better encompass its mission, a major advantage of the platform was its ability to amplify issues being faced by human rights defenders in their work. My background in live video helped to create a regular series of live "Roundtables" on human rights that covered a wide range of topics. All a guest needed was an internet connection and a device and we could speak to them anywhere in the world. We covered peace communities in Colombia, the changing climate's role in violence against women, the relationship between the arts and women's empowerment, and many more (until August 2022). I created the process, scripts, runs of show, all material, promotion, and production of the live events. Sometimes I had to step in as host (ALWAYS BE READY!).

**One of the most important things I learned is the critical value of rehearsal. Make an effort to check in with online guests in advance to make sure you can at least hear and see each other.

Some of my most satisfying work was in producing video profile interviews with human rights defenders as I traveled to Senegal, Ghana, Washington, D.C. and the United Nations in New York to meet with leaders and policy makers. I planned the interviews, contributed to questioning, recorded the audio and video, wrote the scripts, and worked with a contract video editor to produce the final product.

I was deeply involved in planning and presenting the Center's annual Human Rights Defenders Forum, where I coordinated guests, introduced them to the Forum platform, managed the live streaming crew, planned and conducted video interviews, created promotional materials and copy, and everything else that could be needed.

A promotional card I made for the Forum On Human Rights.
The front of a promotional card I made for the Forum On Human Rights.

Following the annual conference, we traveled with a group of defenders to Washington, DC, where I photographed and taped as they met with U.S. legislators and non-profit leaders.

The 2018 Human Rights Defenders Forum
The 2018 Human Rights Defenders Forum

The Forum also serves as an aggregator of important resources related to human rights. I established a framework to sort, tag, solicit, and surface resources as documents, video, audio, or web links. With contributions from our community, myself, and my college interns, the Forum collected and now provides over 1,000 informative resources to serve human rights defenders worldwide.

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