What works? Share resources and tools for defenders for being well and staying safe.

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What works? Share resources and tools for defenders for being well and staying safe.

What types of tools and trainings seem to be working? How can we collaborate better around developing and rolling out these tools?

Share your thoughts, ideas and stories to this discussion thread by adding your comments below, or responding to existing comments.


As mentioned in other posts, there are many tools, resources and training available. One thing we have to remember that when we talk about being well and staying safe, it means that we work on changing cultures, habits, frame of thinking etc. We all know that change is a process and it requires time.

To support HRD to stay safe and well, we must provide support HRDs and their organization during their "change" processes. We hold the space while HRD trying out new tools, new way of thinking. We need to provide follow up sessions after each training to make sure the tools are being used and ultimately change happens.

One time training is not effective (if we want to see sustainable result)and in some cases might put the HRD in more vulnerable position because they have some idea about staying safe and be well but not clear on how to navigate the path.




I agree with Nina's point that security and well-being trainings can't be one-off, and further, should be one piece of a support package provided to human rights defenders.

One of the best practices I've been involved with around this involved both organizing trainings (a first step, to start the conversation going), then supporting defenders to continue to engage with each other (to keep the conversation going), as well as working with individual and organizational follow-up over a period of time. 

This kind of step-by-step, ongoing process is time-consuming. But it is effective, as it consolidates the change that happens during the training and essentially offers an accompaniment role to help to strategize as new challenges arise -- a support safety net.

The other thought that I have about training is this: There are many human rights defenders all over the world who have received at least one, if not more, security and well-being trainings, and a number of them are quite capable of running trainings themselves. 

Can we start sharing ideas centrally about these trainers and potential trainers to help build a cadre of trainers, or perhaps a loose affiliation? If yes, how could we do that?



Yes to a network of trainers connected to local hrds

Revolutions wrote:
Can we start sharing ideas centrally about these trainers and potential trainers to help build a cadre of trainers, or perhaps a loose affiliation? If yes, how could we do that.

This is one of our goals in the SaferMobile project at MobileActive.org -- to create a responsive and sustainable network of activists, journalists, human rights defenders, and trainers, who are knowledgeable in mobile security.

We've been speaking with trainers who work internationally and would love to help establish a strong network of mobile security trainers -- this could be a subset of the larger group of security/well-being trainers that Jane is suggesting.  Perhaps other members of this dialogue or readers are interested in taking the lead for other sectors?

I think these networks can and will be global, but that it's very important to connect local trainers with local organizations and individuals.  Here are a few reasons why I think this:

  • it is easier to build trust and repore with people you can see in-person
  • risk is, in part, a function of local political and social conditions, so local trainers may be better equipped to analyse risks and advise accordingly
  • response time to issues may be quicker

So maybe this loosely affiliated group can be rather informal at the international level, but we can think of ways to help local/regionally-based trainers to engage with activists and hrds in their regions.What do you think?Becky


Yes, yes, yes.... to building a "well being-security" network

A great idea, Becky.  Count me in: with several members of my organisation - the Institute for Women's Empowerment - I have been thinking and planning to do something like this for some time. To start by identifying and connecting people with expertise, people with resources - and devise a system to make these accessible to HRDs and activists who lack resources and opportunities for retreats and sabbaticals.

This might be a way to maintain the continuity of support and care that as has been mentioned by Nina, is necessary for sustained healing / well-being / security.


Building a cadre of trainers


Maybe we can learn from Capacitar on how to build cadre of trainers.

This is how Capacitar does it: Capacitar often does "taster" workshop; ranging from 2 hours to half day. Once participants learned the tools, they become multipliers and have to share the knowledge with others. If they have further interest, then usually they will participate in weekend/2 days Multi Cultural Wellness training.

And if they want to take it even further, Capacitar will train them as National Team (in each country). Ideally National Team receives training from Capacitar International once a year, one training module per year. Between each training they have to practice with their own communities. Capacitar Multi Cultural wellness training has been adapted/integrated to many other workshops /trainings for example trainings for children in crisis center, IDPs, HIV communities, school children, teachers, social workers, Violence Against Women activist etc etc..

And to be a Capacitar Trainer (not multiplier) you have to take the 4 modules and then work under supervision of the master trainer - a much longer process.

So... my thought on this: maybe we can have a gathering of practioners from different regions and together we discuss the Integrated Security's framework/philosophy, lessons learned, best practices, go over manuals etc..and maybe create a standard skeleton for Integrated Security training. Practioners then share the information with others in her/his region and create cadre of multipliers... ( Train the Trainers)

Practioners from the same region perhaps can meet in yearly basis to share lessons learned and success stories.. and the initial group meet again in 2 years?

Thank you for listening...



Establishing a Coalition? A Network?

Thanks to Nina, Becky and Lin for all your thoughts on bringing trainers/practitioners together!

Nina, I really like the Capacitar model, it sounds like a great, long-term and committed approach. I agree that this is ideal, and well-worth further discussion. As always, organizations with long-term, committed resources are needed to support these types of initiatives, but it is up to us as practitioners to help others understand what works (and what doesn't). And clearly, the Capacitar approach is successful. Many thanks for sharing this in more detail.

I wonder if we could also work on more cross-training -- i.e., integrated security facilitators with Capacitar techniques and vice-versa (which we are already doing in our work with Nina, Yvonne and Sandra), but also cross-training with groups like Becky's on mobile phone security, and with many others on this dialogue. 

So this brings me to the next idea, which Lin called a 'Well Being-Security Network'. I think this is a great idea -- so many of us are getting to know each other informally and through these dialogues, and it is clear that we would like to strengthen our connections and exchange of ideas (and ability to turn to each other for support).

If we are interested in this idea, then what concrete steps do we need to take to make it happen?

Can we brainstorm together on next steps?

I would throw out the following thoughts to kick this off:

1. We need an ongoing virtual 'gathering' space to have conversations -- this would need to be a reasonably secure space in the long-term.

2. We need some individuals to commit to helping move the idea forward.

3. We should as a group discuss what the objectives of a network would be, and how it might function.

I think this is an exciting next step in our dialogues, and would love to hear more from others!


More on a coalition/network & principles

Thanks to Lin, Nina, Becky, Eva and Marie for your thoughts on a coalition/network.

For a little more elaboration on this thinking, and what I'm hearing, it sounds like we are talking about forming a larger network of all practitioners, human rights defenders, organizations and grantmakers who are interested in this topic. 

Within the larger network, we may be envisioning more specific working groups, such as:

1. Practitioners in well-being and security support (both in facilitating trainings but also providing individual and organizational support). This could also include within it the network that Becky was talking about, working specifically on communications security). This would be a space where we could at a minimum be able to develop a list/group of practitioners, share experiences, ask each other questions, make referrals and find ways to cross-train.

2. Human rights defenders who are seeking to learn more about what types of support are available, ask questions, speak to each other, receive referrals. This part of the network/communication would have to be very secure and sensitive, and I think we are all aware of that -- but on the other hand, the reality is that we are all having these conversations every day in an ad hoc way, anyway -- and one of the biggest challenges to defenders in the field is the lack of access to information/spaces like this. So, despite the challenges, I think we can do it, particularly since we have communications security experts already in our dialogues!

3. Grantmakers who are seeking to support their partners better on security and well-being, as well as develop their own internal practices. This would be a safe space where grantmakers could also have discussions about the challenges they face and develop a closer referral network. It strikes me that Saira's question about how to build a grantmaking program on supporting hrd sustainability would fit right into this type of group.

I like Lin's suggestion about next steps:

linchew wrote:

I am eager to work on this - my little group has been brainstorming for quite a while, and we have some ideas how we would like to start - so I would certainly like to join the brainstorming and to work to bring the ideas forward.  Initial steps could be: to develop a common platform of principles and values when doing this work - of 'defending the defenders' or 'caring for the carers'; identifying people and other resources; mapping needs and good practices...... go, Jane...we're with you.. 



I also feel that in terms of some of the basic values and 'principles' of a network, we are already hearing some great ones.

First, that the way in which we form and take forward the network (or loose coalition) be safe at the outset (thanks Marie for asking that we find a way to continue this discussion, but on a more private (i.e. secure) platform).

Second, that we also keep the network reasonably loose and informal at the international level, and make sure to support national and regional networks (Becky, I think this is your point?)

Third, that 'intersectionality' is a core value -- the ongoing incorporation of a way of working that always considers the varying forms of risks and challenges that human rights defenders face in respect to context, locations and identities -- including for example, genders/gender expressions, physical and mental abilities, race, caste, religious beliefs, etc (I know this is a much longer list, just throwing these out as examples).

Fourth, that respect for the resilience, passion, power and capacity for love inherent in human rights defenders is always a starting point in our conversations.

Fifth, that we recognize and respect the many different ways that defenders may choose to be safe, to care for themselves and to heal, and that no one model fits all.

OK, these are just some ideas to develop core values/principles, please comment/add as you all see fit, I am just continuing the brainstorm! 

Thank you for a great dialogue!

Thank you everyone for a great dialogue!

The New Tactics Team will work on summarizing the comments added to this dialogue.  That summary will be posted on the dialogue page in about one month.  I will send you all a message when that summary is available. 

New Tactics will continue to work with Jane Barry and others to identify the next steps for developing a network of practitioners/defenders/grantmakers interested in continuing this dialogue!  Please contact Jane or me to share any other ideas or concerns regarding this.  Thanks, everyone!

Trainings & Retreats

I also like the idea of an international network and trainings to bring HRD together. But I also wanted to share an example from one of our partners, a women's group that supports survivors of sexual violence in Haiti. This group, KOFAVIV, has 66 agents that work in the camps and neighborhoods around Port-au-Prince. Their work is grueling, often dangerous, and psychologically taxing. 

Every year the agents of KOFAVIV take a weekend trip to the beach. It's an opportunity for them to unwind, and take care of themselves for once. KOFAVIV's leadership recognizes the retreat as such an important part of their work that they fund it by taking money from everyone's salaries, including agents' monthly stipends. That is a hardship, but it is one that they believe pays off. It helps the women relax and unwind, builds the team up from within, and gives them strength to keep doing the hard work for the rest of the year.

Recommended readings on the protection & security of HRDs

Jesse shared the recently published AJWS grantmaking strategy paper, entitled "Risk and Responsibility: Protecting Human Rights Defenders" in another thread in this dialogue.  In addition to a wonderful list of best practices for grantmakers, it also includes a "Further Reading" section on page 12, which includes the following articles and papers:

Claiming Rights, Claiming Justice: A Guidebook on Women Human Rights Defenders, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (2007)

Front Line Handbook for Human Rights Defenders: What protection can EU and Norwegian Diplomatic Missions offer? researched and written by Chris Collier and published by Front Line

Insiste, Persiste, Resiste, Existe, Jane Barry with Vahida Nainar. Project partners: Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation and Front Line International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (2008)

New Protection Manual for Human Rights Defenders, researched and written by Enrique Eguren and Marie Caraj and published by Protection International (2009)

Security in-a-box: Tools and Tactics for your Digital Security, Tactical Technology Collective and Front Line International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Self-Care and Self-Defense Manual for Feminist Activists, Marina Bernal. Artemisa, Grupo Interdisciplinario en Género, Sexualidad, Juventud y Derechos Humanos and Elige—Red de Jóvenes por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos (2006). Published in English by CREA (2008)

What’s the Point of Revolution if We Can’t Dance, Jane Barry with Jelena -Djordjevic. Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights (2007)

SaferMobile resources

The goal of the SaferMobile Project is to help activists, human rights defenders, and journalists assess the mobile communications risks that they are facing, and then use appropriate mitigation techniques to increase their ability to organize, report, and work more safely.

We do this through:

  • Online and offline educational and tactical resources (risk evaluation tools, case studies, how-to guides, security tool reviews);
  • Trainings and curricula;
  • Specific mobile security software focused on the needs of rights defenders, activists, and journalists.

Our list of available content to date is below with Training Curricula available in early July.  We're tracking the project on our wiki for now, and will be launching a site around the end of the summer.  Please feel free to get in touch with suggestions for additional content or with comments about existing content.  

Mobile Security Risks: A Primer for Activists, Rights Defenders, and Journalists.  A description of security vulnerabilities associated with mobile phone technology and specific uses of mobile devices; tactical advice on how to mitigate some of these risks.

A Guide to Mobile Security Risk Assessment. A guide to assessing mobile security needs and creating security policy in your work.

Security Guides to Common Applications and Services, under development, early May. Guides to include tools commonly used by activists and rights defenders including but not limited to: mobile data collection, SMS systems, crisis report aggregators, mobile web sites, voice systems, java apps.

Security Tool Reviews, under development. Reviews of open-source and proprietary security tools available in the commercial market; and guides to choosing appropriate tools for your specific risk level.

Tactical Guides for Mobile Security, ongoing development. Guides to using mobile phones more securely while participating in activitism.

Mobile Basics Help in understanding the basics of mobile devices and networks, and how they work so that you can better understand risks. This includes longer written descriptions as well as a glossary with short definitions for common terms.

  • Lock-Down Guides for Your Phone, week of 6/27. Guides for using native settings on your device to use your phone more safely. These are device-specific and will be available for a variety of manufacturers and models

Mobile Security Reports Blog posts about current events and topics in mobile security, some cross-posted from MobileActive.org.

More resources


Thanks to everyone for adding so many useful resources!

To add to the list:

We've just published: Integrated Security: The Manual, Jane Barry. Kvinna till Kvinna and Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights (2011), which is a guide for facilitators in the integrated security method. It's intended to be used and adapted as facilitators see fit to their context and training themes/approaches, so it can be used in conjunction with many other methods (and it incorporates exercises from several of the resources we've already listed, building on the body of experience of defenders and organizations working on security and well-being.)

The Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) has also recently released a great document called: Urgent Responses for Women Human Rights Defenders at Risk: Mapping and Preliminary Assessment, Inmaculada Barcia. Association for Women's Rights in Development (2011).

Also, AWID's April 2012 Forum in Istanbul may offer an excellent opportunity to further discuss security and well-being for defenders/activists, well-worth attending!




Hi, and thanks Jane and others for already sharing the tools we have been part of!!


I think it would be brilliant with a network with trainers with different angels on security trainings. It would help so much when one of our partner have seen a need for a specific training and we (if we cannot do it ourselves or if we do not know anyone) need to look high and low for the right person! Would be great to have one place to go to and find out a lot!!!



More resources

Greetings to all! Since we are welcome to continue adding to the dialogue if we'd like, I thought it would be interesting to add resources and thoughts as they arise.

So, just ran across this announcement and was wondering if anyone has more information -- it is the creation of a new 'Embattled NGO Assistance Fund' -- it would be great to hear more about the funding parameters and how to access this, the more resources the better (but it is also good to understand how the different funders/resources complement each other). 

On another note, I was wondering if we had more information about Civil Rights Defenders (Sweden) and their grantmaking criteria to support human rights defenders? Also worth finding out more. 



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