Global Human Rights Monitoring, New Technologies, and the Politics of Information

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Abstract

Antonio Cassese’s vision for the future of the international human rights and criminal justice regimes relied critically upon the availability of reliable and systematic sources of information about alleged violations, to be provided primarily by the major international human rights NGOs. But the reality is that the existing system is problematically fragmented, hierarchical, non-collaborative, and excessively shaped by organizational self-interest. The politics of information suggests that, in the absence of significant pressure for change, the major INGOs will continue to adopt a proprietorial rather than a communal approach to reported data. We argue that while new information and communications technologies have already demonstrated their potential to transform the existing human rights regime, there is a compelling case to be made for establishing a comprehensive reporting website, open to local actors as well as the international community, and equipped with a collaborative online editing tool that would begin to resemble a human rights version of the Wikipedia. The article explores the many advantages of a human rights wiki, and notes the range of choices that would need to be made in order to shape the structure, and modes of organization and management of such an initiative.

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