Open Briefing began in 2011 with a simple idea: the defence, security and foreign policies that progressive think tanks were developing and advocating for could be made stronger by using open source intelligence to provide a solid evidence base.
Over the past five years, we have provided intelligence support to a number of think tanks, foundations and networks, and in the process made a name for ourselves for both our intelligence activities in support of other NGOs and our own research and policy work.
During this time, we have become increasingly concerned for the ordinary people who are risking their lives every day to protect vulnerable communities and a fragile environment within an increasingly restricted civic space. Each year, thousands of civilians, journalists, aid workers and human rights defenders are killed, injured or kidnapped while fighting for social or environmental justice. Many of these tragedies are preventable if the right security risk management approach is adopted. It has become clear that our team of former intelligence, military, law enforcement and government professionals has much to offer civil society beyond the intelligence and policy work that we have focussed on to date.
It has also become clear that the scale and complexity of the challenges that the world faces – including climate change, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international terrorism and increasing socio-economic divisions – requires the combined leadership of civil society, governments and the private sector to work together in new ways that fosters mutually-reinforcing collaboration. However, NGOs and other civil society actors are frequently overlooked in this ‘partnership’, as they do not have the influence and resources to effectively confront unilateral government and corporate action and inaction on global social and environmental challenges and bring about fundamental change. We believe that the appropriate use of intelligence and security services could be a game changer – a ‘force multiplier’ for civil society – but they are frequently viewed with suspicion by NGOs because of negative associations with violent conflict and unaccountable state institutions.
Open Briefing wants to see a stronger civil society that can protect vulnerable communities and a fragile environment and support the development and implementation of policies based on diplomacy, human rights and the rule of law. In order to realise this, we are today launching a complete package of low-cost, high-impact intelligence, security, training and equipment services for organisations and individuals striving for social and environmental justice, particularly those working in or on fragile and conflict-affected states or under repressive regimes. This includes risk management, security advisers, the extraction and evacuation of personnel, remote medical support, hostile environment and first aid training, cyber security audits and training, ballistic protection, first aid kits and satellite phones among many other innovative services.
The protection of aid workers, human rights defenders, journalists and civilians in war zones and other insecure environments is an immediate and essential need. However, Open Briefing recognises that there needs to be a fundamental shift away from war being perceived and used as an extension of foreign and security policies if our efforts on the ground are to be more than just a sticking plaster. As such, we will continue to strengthen our public open source intelligence service and our work scrutinising the actions of governments and militaries and generating alternative defence, security and foreign policies.
These developments are a significant and rapid expansion of our work. However, over the past five years we have repeatedly proved our ability to deliver impact and influence far beyond what our limited resources would suggest possible. The new strategic plan that we are launching today sets out how we will deliver on our pledge to protect and inform all those striving for social and environmental justice. It is an ambitious and truly groundbreaking plan, but with your support we can achieve real change.
Founder and executive director
Our strategic plan is over 40 pages and 15,000 words! However, it will form the basis of a range of new – and digestible – communications, including brochures and a new website, which will be released over the coming weeks. In the meantime, please contact us for more information.