Communicators of the Week: Human Rights Watch

The savagery of modern armed conflict in the Middle East may seem a strange choice for a post on a PR website. This week’s communicators of the week though have used techniques which can be applied to a wide range of PR campaigns or crisis responses.

The bloody civil war in Syria has developed into a regional conflict with the viability of Iraq as a country under threat by an armed insurgency from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis). A central part of the rise of Isis over the last few years has been its use of the internet to spread its message, attract support and undermine the morale of its opponents.

As the New York Times reported, “Isis may practice a seventh-century version of fundamentalist Islam, but it has demonstrated modern sophistication when it comes to using social media, particularly Twitter and other sites like WordPress and Tumblr.”

Just as the internet and social media is used as a tool for propaganda by Isis it can also be used against them. Gone are the days when it was only governments who had access to satellite images – now we all have the power of mapping technology on our computers, phones or tablets – this, plus in-depth analysis of images and video posted by Isis has exposed the brutality of this armed group.

Last week Human Rights Watch, a US based international campaign group, published analysis of satellite images and photographs which the group claim is proof of war-crimes being committed by Isis in Iraq.

Human Rights Watch hesitated to put an exact number on the victims as the danger involved in accessing the area has prevented a full investigation. Although the pressure group has been savvy enough to piece together available data and images to tell a compelling, if depressing story, to the world. What Human Rights Watch has done is publish a blend of publicly available historical photos, satellite images, posts from Isis fighters and analysis from military experts to show strong evidence of war crimes being committed.

These carefully pieced together images and the ensuing international condemnation of the brutality of Isis led the news around the world and highlighted for the first time the threat Isis pose to the security and stability of the entire middle east. This is why Human Rights Watch are my Communicators of the Week.

Communicator of the Week is written by Ed Staite.

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