STAND & WITNESS: Partnering to Use Video for Change

This online video advocacy guide has been created to support the partnership between STAND, the student-led division of Genocide Intervention Network (GI-NET), and WITNESS, an international human rights organization.  STAND and WITNESS are partnering this fall to create videos to help support STAND’s advocacy efforts.  These efforts involve pushing for a comprehensive US government strategy to prevent genocide and mass atrocities.  November 6-9, 1,000 students and community leaders will gather in Washington, D.C. for Pledge2Protect, the anti-genocide movement’s 2009 national conference.  On the last day of the conference, students will lobby their members of Congress on Capitol Hill to commit to protecting civilians and ending genocide by implementing recommendations of the Genocide Prevention Task Force’s (GPTF).

“…preventing genocide and mass atrocities is not an idealistic addition to our core foreign policy agenda.  It is a moral and strategic imperative.”  –  Secretaries Madeline Albright and William Cohen, Co-Chairs of the GPTF

Achieving Structural Change to Prevent and End Genocide
STAND envisions a world in which the international community is willing and able to protect civilians from genocide and mass atrocities.  This means not only pushing our government to respond to current crises like those in Darfur, Burma, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also advocating for long-term, structural improvements that will allow the United States and the international community to more effectively address and help prevent these types of crises in the future.

The GPTF was convened by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the United States Institute for Peace, and the American Academy of Diplomacy and launched on November 13, 2007 and released its report to the public on December 8, 2008. Its goals are: (1) To spotlight genocide prevention as a national priority; and; (2) To develop practical policy recommendations to enhance the capacity of the U.S. government to respond to emerging threats of genocide and mass atrocities. This group came together to assemble their diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise to develop a 174-page guide to the institutionalized prevention of genocide and mass atrocities.  The report, released on the 60th anniversary of the Genocide Convention, outlines in 6 critical areas what the United States can do to prevent and stop genocide and mass atrocities across the globe – and one of the first actions they cite is empowering the American people to build an anti-genocide constituency.

The GPTF report is a “unique blueprint for preventing genocide rather than relying on military force which always seems to come too late.”  –  Warren Christopher, Former Secretary of State

GI-NET and its partners are currently working to translate the GPTF’s recommendations into reality, including through legislation intended to be introduced in the United States Senate.  More broadly, GI-NET and its partners will look to incorporate key recommendations into other legislative vehicles and/or advocate for their adoption through advocacy campaigns directed at the executive branch.  As the student voice of the anti-genocide movement, STAND will play an essential role in mobilizing around these initiatives, throughout the fall, culminating with student lobbying at Pledge2Protect.

Video Advocacy: How we will use video to support the campaign
WITNESS and STAND will use video as a primary tool to lobby each member of Congress. WITNESS and STAND will collaboratively create a template video advocacy piece for the campaign that will serve the effort to gain Congressional support for the Genocide Prevention Task Force recommendations. The end goal is for each STAND chapter to remix the template video or create a new video with shared media for their Representatives – thereby creating a 535 unique advocacy videos, one for each member of Congress. Envisioned as a five-minute final video, the WITNESS-STAND video will be a primary piece of content that can be re-purposed and remixed as needed by local chapters and advocates per their local needs – choosing the best messages and messengers that will have the most impact or sway for their Representatives in Congress. Video and multimedia content would be sourced from existing, available content through the WITNESS human rights archive and other archived media, as well as content shot by STAND activists and its allies.

This innovative model of video advocacy will illuminate many of the ways in which existing and readily accessible technology can be strategically harnessed to create and amplify multimedia to spur change, and the materials and documentation developed will inspire and help enable others to employ the lessons learned in their social change work. Additionally, though the base of this partnership would be the collaborative video creation, editing and distribution to support and advance the Pledge2Protect campaign, STAND and WITNESS will co-create and share training materials, particularly on online and mobile video advocacy, with the larger human rights community.

Collaborative editing for targeted advocacy

WITNESS and STAND will partner with a technical provider that will centrally house all applicable content in an online space that would enable STAND activists and allies to upload and share their content, edit from existing content within the website and/or download any and all sharable content to their computers to edit. The content would have as much meta-data information (who’s in the footage, credits, date, location, context, etc.) as possible, to ensure appropriate use – as well as safety and security measures to mitigate risk (blurring of faces where applicable, for example).

Innovation: Exploring new models of targeted, collaborative video advocacy
This partnership’s focus on collaborative editing and the creative use of online and mobile tools for video advocacy is not only innovative, but can stretch the boundaries of how activists can use multimedia tools to create change. The partnership would yield not only a comprehensive case study on how it was done, but regular updates and lessons learned would be circulated via all organizational websites and distribution mechanisms – as well as a significant, national media campaign to support the lobby-day activities.  Additionally, this project will help spotlight innovative technical platforms to inspire more citizens to collaboratively use video to create change.


STAND, the student-led division of Genocide Intervention Network, envisions a world in which the international community protects civilians from genocidal violence. At its core, our mission is to empower individuals and communities with the tools to prevent and stop genocide. To do so, STAND’s Leadership Team recruits, trains, organizes and mobilizes students around the world by providing materials, educational information, online resources, policy expertise, and a network of concerned and active peers. Born out of the fight to stop the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, STAND is devoted to creating a sustainable student network that actively fights genocide wherever it may occur. We seek to unite students around the world in a permanent anti-genocide constituency.


WITNESS uses video and online technologies to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. We empower people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change. Co-founded by musician and humanitarian Peter Gabriel on the belief that compelling videos combined with opportunities for self-empowerment create social change, in our 17-year history, WITNESS has helped hundreds of human rights defenders in over 70 countries put on screen stories of human rights violations that often remain unseen and unheard.

WITNESS uses video campaigns to create powerful impacts, change human rights abuses, and secure justice. With local human rights organizations, we help them design targeted advocacy campaigns around a video produced by the group. The powerful stories told in these videos have an unrivaled candid authority and humanize issues of human rights and justice. Videos are integrated into campaigns drawing upon a range of traditional advocacy strategies such as litigation, lobbying, media outreach, research, and community organizing, where these powerful personal stories raise awareness, prompt concern, and motivate action.

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