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Showing posts from October, 2011

Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference

This blog first appeared in the Huffington Post . This week marked a first-ever gathering of human rights activists with Silicon Valley technology developers. The Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference hosted a series of discussions about how technology is used to expand and sometimes undermine essential freedoms around the world. Organized by the nonprofit group Access and sponsored by Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Skype, Mozilla and other major tech companies, the conference brought together business leaders, policy makers and online activists, especially from the Arabic-speaking world. This morning we saw live video of democracy protesters in Yemen who have been following the discussions via streaming video. The event helped create an extended dialog between participants of the Arab Spring and the developers of technology tools that activists have used to circumvent government censorship. We discussed strategies for holding companies accountable for human rights and encouraging the

Eliminating Blinding Trachoma

As I mentioned in my previous two blogs about my Africa trip of last July, I had the pleasure of meeting many interesting people and learning about numerous exciting, cool projects during that three week long visit to Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana. In Ghana, I greatly enjoyed meeting Peter Ackland, CEO of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. Peter is spearheading the wonderful campaign Vision 2020 “The Right to Sight”: a global initiative seeking to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020. We sat under a tree and talked particularly about the race to eliminate trachoma, t he world’s leading cause of preventable blindness and one of Vision 2020’s five priority diseases . I think social entrepreneurship is all about looking at root causes and addressing them: elimination of a disease is a pretty good approach to addressing the root cause instead of just treating symptoms. And that's Peter's goal as part of this effort. Trachoma starts with a rela

Benetech’s Daniel Guzmán Publishes Account of Landmark Guatemalan Human Rights Case

Benetech’s Human Rights Program supports critical human rights cases around the world helping to end impunity and bring justice to communities torn apart by violence. Benetech statistician Daniel Guzmán has just published his account of one legal case which set a historic precedent for human rights in Guatemala. Guzmán’s article, entitled Speaking Stats to Justice: Expert Testimony in a Guatemalan Human Rights Trial Based on Statistical Sampling , appears in the most recent issue of CHANCE, a quarterly journal published by the American Statistical Association. The story illustrates the crucial role that scientists can play in analyzing large collections of human rights data and presenting findings that can help hold perpetrators accountable for terrible crimes. The article describes Guzmán’s presentation of key evidence in the trial of two former Guatemalan National Police agents accused of forcibly disappearing 26-year-old student and union leader Edgar Fernando García. A husband an