HURIDOCS was born at a time when computers were barely used and human rights defenders struggled to organize their information. Three decades later, our organization has become a leader in its field through the development of innovative tools, methodology, and resources.
The HURIDOCS story began near Paris in 1979, when several key human rights organizations gathered to start talking about a new challenge: how to benefit from information and communication technologies that commercial companies and government agencies had developed?
The leaders of the NGOs decided to create a platform to answer this question – and that’s how HURIDOCS was born. The initiative’s first donor was The Ford Foundation. In 1982, the first conference took place in Quito, Ecuador, and the same year saw the founding assembly of HURIDOCS, in Strasbourg, led by Martin Ennals (1927–1991), a dedicated human rights activist who had been the first Secretary-General of Amnesty International.
The creation of HURIDOCS was the first opportunity to apply information science to human rights. In its first years, HURIDOCS worked on library documentation. Much needed to be done so grassroot organizations could understand how to classify and manage their documents. HURIDOCS also had to develop methodological tools and standards, as there was no terminology in place at the time for library science that applied to human rights.
They are an NGO that supports human rights organizations to use information and technology in the simplest and most efficient way.
With smart information management, their partners are able to expose human rights violations for the protection of survivors and to hold perpetrators accountable.
Based in Geneva, HURIDOCS is an NGO that since 1982 supports human rights defenders use information technologies and documentation methods to organize and present data about violations. They are passionate about providing NGOs with the simplest and most efficient tools and techniques to advocate for their cause.
Their team working in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe understands the specific challenges of each of these contexts.
They want human rights defenders to be able to:
Organize an efficient strategy as a result of the information they have
Use tools and methods that improve the impact of their work at a global level
They also aim to strengthen international and regional human rights mechanisms by making their datasets openly accessible – case law, reports, communications or resolutions – that can lead to more effective advocacy and litigation.
A complex reality
Some years later, a network of NGOs interested in managing libraries had been established. However, groups based in the Global South had another question: how can organizations successfully document human rights violations? HURIDOCS’ experience led to a method they can summarize as “Who Did What to Whom”: reporting crimes by representing the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator.
This system evolved in the next five years to better represent what happened, where it happened, the people involved, and the nature of the violation. In 2000, HURIDOCS’ work moved into a third phase: development of indicators to track violations of economic, social and cultural rights.
Where is HURIDOCS - Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems, International