Advancing Human Rights and Humanitarian Responses

Development and critique of new approaches to human rights and humanitarian work using computational techniques.

Access to social media has generated an unprecedented quantity of data that is of potential significance in the documentation and evidencing of human rights violations. Big data on conflict and State repression provides new ways to map, monitor and document human rights violations by combining and triangulating disparate sources of data, such as social media and image data, in ways that can corroborate and verify accounts of human rights abuse.

It can also strengthen the ability of humanitarian actors to respond to conflict-driven or natural disasters. For example, social media, coupled with satellite imagery of the movement of displaced persons can assist in establishing secure and adequate refugee and internally displaced persons camps with the necessary facilities. This crucial information can further be used to track displacement and consequently the geo-location of potential human rights violations in the aftermath of disasters.

This area of research considers the extent to which big data, including social media, provides new opportunities to increase the effectiveness of human rights and humanitarian organisations. It assesses how big data, including social media, be used to map, monitor and document human rights violations and to respond proactively to humanitarian crises. It explores key challenges faced when seeking to use big data and social media in this way and how can they be overcome.


DatNav (2016)

How to navigate digital data for human rights research – The Engine Room, Benetech, Amnesty International

(S Dubberley – Writing Sprint Contributor)

Technical Memo (2016)

For Amnesty International Report on Deaths in Detention – The Human Rights Data Analysis Group

(M Price, A Gohdes and P Ball)

Tech Notes (2016)

Computing Multiple Systems Estimation in R – The Human Rights Data Analysis Group

(P Ball)


Our Partners

Queen Mary University of London
University of Cambridge
Eye Witness Media
FXB Center for Health & Human Rights
Human Rights Data Analysis Group
Universal Rights Group
World Health Organisation
Geneva Academy