Walking the Talk: Holistic Security

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Walking the Talk: Holistic Security
Presenter(s) A. Ravi, D. Ó Cluanaigh, S. Ljubinkovic, M. Tenthoff, Maka, Xeenarh
Organization(s) Initiative for Sustainable Action, Digital Defenders Partnership, Open Tech Fund
Social media
2017 theme Journalism & Media

The objectives of this session are as follows:

1. For the uninitiated, further socialising the concept of Holistic Protection of Activists, Journalists and Human Rights Defenders (explicitly including in this case journalists, trainers and digital rights advocates) and the work done on the concept to this point

2. Examining the concept from the perspectives of journalism, digital rights activism, and those who supply training/support to HRDs

3. Experiencing different aspects of the approach through exercises and reflection aimed at participants' own experience

4. Identifying areas for improvement in their own well-being, protection and sustainability, and mapping resources which can help them with this upon returning to their work.

5. Exploring how these groups can self-identify with their role vis-a-vis protection of HRDs


In this session, we will guide participants through an experiential analysis of their security, protection and well-being from a "holistic" perspective. Participants will be encouraged to understand their own well-being and protection as fundamental to their activism, and indeed their support of other activists.

The input will focus on (re-) introducing the fundamental aspects of holistic protection, and locate the importance of these distinct but related communities "walking the talk", not only in terms of more efficient work, but as consistent with an empowering, positive, and transformative action which subverts the systemic and intersectional violence to which we, like many human rights defenders and communities in resistance, are subjected.

We are particularly happy in this session to explore the concept from the perspectives of particular communities that will be present at the IFF, including:

-> the role journalists do play in security and safety of HRDs, and illuminating the role the can play in not only exposing the truth, but also contributing to the resilience and overall sustainability of themselves as well as the HRDs they engage. -> digital rights activists, including developers: the particular dynamics of their work and the risks they face, and the challenges and opportunities of building online and offline, individual and collective resilience in this context -> digital security trainers, and particularly illuminating issues of security management and well-being of trainers in an otherwise, often very technical field of work.

Therefore, this session will encourage individual and collective reflections on our personal and professional experiences, the risks associated with our work and ways in which we can act to manage them. It will *not* focus on theoretical discussions or frameworks beyond a useful extent.

We will identify and build not only strategies for individual well-being and protection, but also identify means of building solidarity and practical support within the community. This is necessary as a platform for journalists, digital rights activists, and trainers to pass on these practices to the communities and human rights defenders they support or whose voices they seek to amplify.

Finally, we will invite participants to accompany us in the further development of the approach, supporting each other and supporting our allies in resistance and transformation of society and technology.

We see the session as a platform for kicking off further conversations about this approach and general building of resilience and solidarity, for which the IFF provides a fertile ground. Therefore we are happy to follow up the session with further facilitated or informal conversations, skill-building sessions, walks on the beach, or whatever people request.

Format Workshop
Target Groups Journalists, Digital Rights Activists, Digital Security Trainers, Human Rights Defenders
Length 3 Hours
Skill Level Novice
Language English (Español, Catalan & Farsi per request)

Session Outputs

- Introductory awareness of the concept of Holistic Security, for the uninitiated - Personal and collective reflections on challenges faced in various fields of activism, in view of this perspective - Basic analyses of strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats - Entry points to personal and collective plans for building resilience, solidarity and sustainable action.

Next Steps

Additional Notes

Relevant Resources

Holistic Security: A Strategy Manual for Human Rights Defenders https://holistic-security.org

Manual de Protección para Comunidades Rurales y Defensores de Derechos Humanos http://movimientom4.org/wp-content/docs/manual-proteccion-comunidades-rurales-y-defensores-DDHH.pdf


A. Ravi, D. Ó Cluanaigh, S. Ljubinkovic, M. Tenthoff, Xeenarh