How internet helps to shape a global civil society
Within ten days a video describing the atrocities perpetrated by Joseph Kony, a Ugandan warlord was viewed by more than 10 million people around the world. Millions of people around the world who cannot even put Uganda on a map or have never heard about this country shared this video and helped to raise awareness on the plight of child soldiers and human rights violations in this country.
The video caused such an outrage and was so widely shared that it forced Ugandan officials adress an issue they have been ignoring for years.
Two decade ago how long it would have taken to reach so many people and have the same impact? Several weeks if one wants to be optimistic, in fact months or years. Today, thanks to the internet, it takes only one click. Internet has opened up infinity of opportunities in the promotion of human rights and social justice.
Whether it is used to raise awareness, to disseminate information or to educate people, internet is one of the best and most powerful tools in the hands of human rights defenders. Because it allows people sharing the same vision of social justice and democracy to network, the relationship between internet and human rights has become stronger over the years.
Today thanks to the internet the protection of human rights is becoming a universal concern: via Facebook pages, online petition or web campaign, internet is now used to mobilize thousands of people around the world who share the same vision of human rights applicable to all. It has made it possible to reach and mobilize millions of people on human rights.
In Africa for example where there is a shortage of documentation on human rights issues, the internet helps to establish a link between various sources, initiate discussion on issues that empower people and communities.
Be it the plight of child soldiers in Uganda or women victims of crime of honour in Afghanistan, internet helps to highlight these human rights violations and to expose the perpetrators. It creates a platform for people from different background or origin, living in different region to engage on the same issue, guided only by their global awareness and conscience.
It also put those people on the same level when it comes to awareness and information access on human rights issues. Today it is only a click away for a person in a western and a developing country to access the same information at the same time.
A teenager in Chicago and Bamako in Mali, who are perhaps culturally and geographically thousands of miles away found themselves fighting and sharing the same values of democracy and social justice. Via the internet, those two are now part of the same global civil society.
By disseminating information and raising awareness via the internet, human rights defenders create a global civil society essential to bring about sustainable social and political changes. The rise of that global civil society which would have been impossible without the internet helps to promote and establish accepted standards of human rights and democracy applicable to all.