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Human Rights Team/Human Rights Interest Group

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The Human Rights Interest Group (HRIG) consists of Wikimedians, individuals and affiliated organizations interested in human rights as they pertain to Wikimedia projects. It is a movement-wide initiative aiming to create a safe space wherein the human rights concerns of our diverse communities can be heard, discussed and addressed. The HRIG also aims to support the sharing of notable, reliable knowledge regarding human rights ideas, challenges, movements and actors so our readers are informed of the state of human rights around the globe and in their own part of the world. The mission of the HRIG is to create an equitable and global approach to human rights in Wikimedia projects.


  • To raise awareness of the intersection between human rights and the Wikimedia movement, and involve Wikimedia in the broader discussions around tech and human rights
  • To create a support network to discuss and help address the community’s human rights concerns
  • To assess and close gaps regarding human rights content

Why a HRIG?[edit]

To support Wikimedians where their ability to freely share in the sum of all human knowledge is in danger because the right to the freedom of expression is not respected

Fundamental rights of Wikimedians from different parts of the world are infringed upon by governments and other institutions of power. The HRIG is an effort to listen, learn, and act to support our community members living under governments where their ability to participate in our projects is at risk because the right to free expression is not respected, to bring their voices to our movement and find ways to ensure they can contribute without fear of being persecuted.

To deliberate upon Wikimedia project policies that potentially have negative human rights consequences

Wikimedia projects are governed by policies that guide what information and knowledge are and are not permissible on the platform. While these policies ensure relevance to the topics covered, it is imperative to reflect and assess what human rights consequences certain policies may have. For instance, at a time where facial recognition is becoming increasingly sophisticated and theuse of such technologies more widespread, is the Wikimedia Commons policy on the publication of images of identifiable people taken in public without their consent sufficiently protecting the rights of the individuals in those pictures? While the above is but one example, there are likely other policies that could have negative human rights consequences, both for our community members as well as other online and offline groups and individuals. The HRIG is an effort to start a conversation regarding such policies and create a momentum for amendments when needed.

To assess and address human rights content gaps

The known systemic biases of Wikipedia have an influence on the coverage of human rights subjects. While the we are working to transparently gather the data to corroborate the above claim, the HRIG aims to be a movement-wide effort to review, understand and help address this bias to make human rights content available to the people who might benefit most from access to reliable knowledge about the subject. A comparison of the article “human rights" on German Wikipedia to its counterpart in Burmese, for instance, highlights this issue. After all, the people of Myanmar are engaged in a renewed crackdown on their fundamental rights. Another example is the article “Freedom of Religion in India”, an immensely important topic considering the plight of religious minorities in the country. Yet, out of the 22 constitutionally recognised languages in India, that article is onlyavailable in Urdu and that too is a stub.

To foster a human rights conscious platform and movement

What responsibility do we as a movement have to ensure the safety of people covered or depicted in the articles and media files we create, especially when some current regimes are actively pursuing people it deems to be its enemies? How do we balance between creating the sum of all human knowledge, having a public archive of the war of Afghanistan for example, and protecting people that may come into harm's way because of it? There is a larger conversation needed to address such questions and the HRIG will allow for such a space and thereby create a human rights conscious platform and movement. The hope is that through a HRIG one can create an awareness of how certain content may affect someone else's human rights and ensure contribution precautions are taken in light of such information.

Avenues of activity[edit]

Details to follow on the events tab (still in planning).

Conversation hours

  • A space for community members to voice their human rights concerns and share their experiences
  • A space to hold informational sessions by the team and community members on specific topic areas pertaining to human rights and Wikimedia projects
  • A space where experts working in the field of human rights and technology can provide webinars and answer questions (not be confused with the digital security office hours traditionally hosted under the Voices under Threat approach)
  • A space where community members can highlight gaps in content pertaining to human rights in their local language

Human rights knowledge gaps

The HRIG will work to assess and help address the knowledge gaps arising in the field of human rights topics on Wikimedia projects. This effort will be amplified by individuals and organizations working in the field of human rights to allow for a more coordinated approach within community policies. With this in mind we hope to organize edit-a-thons, translate-a-thons and much more.

Join Us! We need you![edit]

  • Wikimedia chapters, user groups, affiliates and projects, make the human rights concerns and challenges of your community, of your localities heard
  • Community leaders, let's mobilize to increase the human rights impact of Wikimedia
  • Human rights organizations, let us work together to achieve our common human rights goals
  • Wikimedian editors, new and seasoned, your skills are needed to achieve these ambitious endeavors

So click here to sign up! Or send us an email with your thoughts, comments or concerns at talktohumanrights(_AT_)wikimedia.org. We look forward to hearing from you.