The underlying causes of violent conflict, oppression, and the climate crisis will never be addressed without open civic spaces and vibrant, diverse, and robust civil societies. But only 3.1% of the world’s population lives in countries with open civic spaces and 2021 was the 16th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. Around the world, courageous people and communities are fighting to turn the tide of authoritarianism, environmental destruction, and social injustice. But they face attacks, harassment, and censorship from powerful vested interests. Many pay the ultimate price. At least 358 human rights defenders, 129 aid workers, and 45 journalists and media workers were killed in 2021. Many others were arrested, kidnapped, or forced to go into hiding.
About Open Briefing
Open Briefing is a vital part of the response. We prevent and respond to serious attacks on the people and organisations fighting for peace, human rights, and environmental justice around the world, and work to create the conditions in which they no longer happen. Our ‘holistic security’ support allows human rights defenders and other activists and organisations to remain active and effective in local movements.
As a social enterprise, we also provide consultancy, training, and retained support to help high-impact nonprofits and foundations understand and meet their risk management and duty of care commitments to staff, grantees, and local partners.
We support many well-known organisations and high-profile defenders at risk; you will know them and their work. But you will likely never hear of most of our partners: human rights defenders in Yemen, women’s rights activists in Afghanistan, environmental defenders in Mexico, peacebuilders in Myanmar, pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, LGBT+ activists in Sri Lanka, community leaders in South Africa, indigenous defenders in Ecuador, journalists in Russia, and humanitarians in Central African Republic. Their work is the very heartbeat of civil society.
By enhancing their self-protection efforts, Open Briefing empowers those targeted for their advocacy to remain in the struggle for peace, human rights and environmental justice, both in their countries and internationally. For 10 years, we have stood together with those speaking truth to power. And we are just getting started.
“Open Briefing’s holistic approach to security has enabled Goldman Environmental Prize winners to continue their work. They go far beyond what is expected to provide excellent support. Open Briefing is a trusted partner that we depend on to support our most at-risk activists, organisations and partners.”
Goldman Environmental Foundation
We provide holistic security capacity building and mentoring to civil society organisations and activists under threat.
We build multilingual tools and guides to strengthen the individual and collective safety and resilience of civil society organisations and activists around the world.
We collaborate and advocate to defend civil society and protect civic space wherever it is threatened.
We provide consultancy, training and retained support to help charities and foundations meet their risk management, duty of care, and data protection commitments.
Cutting across our four programmes are our three holistic security workstreams:
- Safety and security
- Digital security
- Wellbeing and resilience
Last year, our international teams of protection specialists, digital security trainers, and counsellors and psychologists answered over 300 calls for assistance and provided over 6,000 hours of direct support to civil society organisations and activists under threat in 41 countries.
Last year was a time of global pandemic and closing civic space, not least of all with the coup in Myanmar and the fall of Afghanistan. And while COP26 offered some small reasons for hope, the climate emergency looms large over everything we do. The number of calls for our help nearly trebled compared to the previous year. Despite these challenges, those we worked with reported a 15% increase in capacity and a 14% decrease in risk.
“Open Briefing supported me to understand the threats I face in my complex security situation. They collaboratively developed strategies to improve my physical and digital security and personal wellbeing. This enables me to make practical decisions around my security and resilience, while continuing to advocate for the human rights of women in a difficult and high-risk environment”.
Human rights defender, Afghanistan
We are funded by Oak Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Sigrid Rausing Trust. We are also supported by a community of major donors.
These foundations and donors support the fight against authoritarianism, environmental destruction, and social injustice. They understand that local organisations and activists have the radical solutions that the world needs at this time. And they seek through Open Briefing to defend, strengthen, and empower those groups in the face of attacks and repression.
As civic space closes around the world, Open Briefing is experiencing a surge in the scope and scale of the demand for our holistic security support. We find ourselves standing against powerful, state-level adversaries and organised criminal gangs. But we are poised to make a major step change to meet this challenge responsibly and sustainably. We must move from a lean start-up to a global organisation. We just need the resources.