Video Advocacy Example: ‘Yo Me Declaro’ Campaign for Human Rights Defenders

Posted on July 28, 2011 by Sam Gregory

Why You Should Watch This: 

Who is a human rights defender? Are you, am I?

In the human rights world we often talk about HRDs or ‘human rights defenders’ – but this is more than just an an acronym or a piece of jargon. Human rights defenders of every type play a key role in protecting, promoting and upholding the human rights of all of us. And they’re not just the people who work in NGOs like WITNESS or our partners.

This short video, which is oriented towards sharing on social media, is produced by the UN High Commission for Human Rights in Mexico. It tries to make the idea of the ‘human rights defender’ more accessible and is focused on generating strong peer-to-peer understanding of the concept. It emphasizes the role that each and every person can play in protecting and supporting the people who step forward to make a stand on human rights.

The video itself places a particularly heavy emphasis on the need for people to share the video with their peers. On its supporting site it provides a lot of detailed guidance on how to do this using Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

(The video below is in Spanish. For English subtitles on the video click on the CC button that will be visible at the bottom right of the player once you start the video)

Video Facts:

  • Title: ‘Declárate, yo me declaro’ (Declare Yourself, I Declare Myself)
  • Date Created/Posted: The video was launched in early July 2011 at an event in Mexico City with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay; and was launched online on YouTube and on a dedicated site at the same time.
  • Length: 3 minutes, 25 seconds (and all the time they encourage you to spend on then sharing it to friends via Facebook, Twitter and blogging)
  • Who Made It: The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico (with support from a range of production and distribution allies)
  • Location: Made in Mexico and aimed at a Mexican public, though should be relevant in many other countries
  • Human Rights Issues: The rights of human rights defenders. “Human rights defender” is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights. As the video emphasizes, anyone can be and should be a human rights defender – it does not require that a person be a full-time activist or work for an NGO.

Goal: Engage Mexican citizens in a collective effort to both see themselves as human rights defenders (or at least defenders of human rights defenders), share the video as widely as possible so that “policemen, soldiers, businessmen, students, artists, shopkeepers, opinion-leaders, policy-makers and anyone else” will see it; and generate a million views of the video itself to put pressure on authorities.

Primary Audience: Mexican public as broadly defined as possible – in fact they put emphasis on the hope that this will be seen by people who might be in authority, or might never have thought of themselves in a human rights context. (As the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders affirms, there is no professional requirement to be a human rights activist, and a civil servant, a public official or members of the private sector might, in some circumstances be human rights defenders).

Message: If human rights defenders have to defend themselves, they can not defend anyone.

Content/Style/Voices: The video starts with a somewhat cute-sy animation that enables the UNHCHR to communicate a generalized narrative about the role of human rights defenders and the role of other citizens in supporting them. Half-way through it transitions to a more standard straight-to-camera address from Saúl Hernández, a popular musician in the band Jaguares, and a well-known social justice activist.

One element that surprised me was the animation uses a set of very generic animated figures that does not seem to well-reflect the ethnic diversity in Mexico. Unusually (and I think productively) there is also a significant amount of time in the actual video devoted to asking the audience to share the video – it’s not just an add-on at the end as a final titlecard request. Alongside the video on the dedicated site, the number of views is emphasized (currently around 100,000) and the goal of reaching 1 million views.

Did You Know? They created a special ‘Defender’ font to use in the campaign. You can download it on the website.

Suggested Resources: The ‘Yo Me Declaro’ site has an excellent set of resources (only in Spanish) around how to use Facebook, Twitter and blogging to get the word out about the campaign either as an individual or an organization.

So, for your Facebook page they suggest a range of ways you can talk about it on your Wall,  and suggest posting it on friends’ walls, in Groups/Pages on related issues, and using Messages. For Twitter they also suggest a variety of ways to tweet about the issue, the hashtags to use (very important for tracking), and suggest using Direct Messages, and tagging it for prominent users by using ‘@username). They’re well worth looking at for anyone thinking about how to make it as easy as possible for someone to know how to participate in a social media based campaign.

WITNESS also has a range of resources that are useful for anyone who is a human rights defender – including extensive resources on safety and security and how to assess risk, particularly for those using video and other communications technologies. (for example, the ‘Safety and Security’ chapter in our ‘Video for Change’ book). We also recommend the resources from groups like Frontline and Tactical Tech. To learn more about being a human rights defender and the right you have as a defender visit the UN site for the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya.

Join the Conversation: Is there a way that this could be even more participatory? Clearly this video is trying to get people to take a first step towards being more engaged in understanding this issue. So it may be enough to have people share it with their friends, or as many people have done on the YouTube page where the video is posted add their own comment, ‘Yo me declaro…’

As someone who thinks about video and participation, I notice that there doesn’t seem to be a way to share a video response to the video itself (there are no reply videos on the page). In an earlier post on this blog on collective voice and individual voice we talked about the ‘It Gets Better” and “Candles 4 Rwanda” projects and power of creating your own video and engaging your own network with your own voice (rather than sharing someone else’s video). Could something similar have been used more effectively here? What do you think?

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What Others Are Saying

  1. randa July 28, 2011 at 10:17 am

    i don’t understand spanish but great video

    • Sam Gregory July 28, 2011 at 10:48 am

      Hi Randa – sorry you couldn’t see the English subtitles – click on the CC button in the bottom right of the player and you should be able to switch them on!

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