Safeguard Your Videos with a New Guide from WITNESS

In addition to reporting on Internet rights challenges around the world, Global Voices Advocacy provides a platform for partner NGOs to discuss Internet and human rights-related projects with goals similar to ours. This article was written by Yvonne Ng, Archivist at WITNESS.

A Syrian group has over 160,000 videos of human rights abuses, collected over more than two years. The group wants to ensure that these videos can be used in the future to prosecute crimes and build a better political situation. But how do they find footage of a specific massacre or war crime from this collection? How much of it could be lost if their storage system fails?

Does this scenario sound familiar? In today’s digital environment, it is easier than ever to capture video, building a large archive quickly. However, just as quickly the files can be lost, corrupted, or rendered unusable.

Fortunately, there is something you can do about it, and our new Activists’ Guide to Archiving Video can help!

The Activists’ Guide to Archiving Video breaks down the process into eight stages.

Developed for human rights activists, small NGOs, media collectives, and citizen activists, this guide provides practical steps for managing, storing, sharing, and preserving your videos.  If you are creating, collecting, or curating videos, this guide will walk you through how to maintain your videos so that they stay intact, authentic, and accessible. It is currently available in Arabic, English and Spanish.

We created this guide because we frequently hear from activists and other organizations that managing their videos are among their most difficult challenges. While many of us take great care to capture important events as they unfold, or to interview survivors of human rights abuses, we often have no plan for making sure the recordings remain safe and usable over even a short period of time.

Unfortunately, we hear stories about videos that are accidentally deleted, that cannot be retrieved from hard drives, that cannot be found in a collection, or that are unidentifiable and unverifiable due to lack of documentation.

The Activists’ Guide to Archiving Video is an easy-to-understand resource that demystifies and clearly explains archiving concepts and practices. The guide breaks archiving down into eight stages, and shows how to incorporate it into your work.

While archiving is part of making your videos accessible and usable in the present, we also must bear in mind their long-term purpose. By protecting and preserving videos, we enable them to be used as human rights evidence (article in English only) and for the historical record.  Our archives ensure that underrepresented voices endure and act as a bulwark against impunity and forgetting.

Take a look at the Guide and share it with your colleagues! Tell us what you think – we’d love to know how you use it.


The Activists’ Guide to Archiving Video is now available in Arabic, English and Spanish. We look forward to adding more languages in the near future. It is licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

A version of this post appeared on WITNESS’ blog.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.