Peter co-founded WITNESS in 1992. A year earlier, a bystander, George Holliday, recorded the brutal beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers. For the first time, people around the world saw the power of video to expose hidden abuses and catalyze social movements. This event started a global conversation around accountability. In response, Peter with the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First) and the Reebok Foundation for Human Rights, established WITNESS with the vision that video technology could be used as a tool for the advancement of human rights.
Today, WITNESS is an international organization that trains a new generation of human rights defenders by providing resources on the safe, effective, and ethical use of video – and by providing innovative technology solutions that allow citizen media to play a stronger role within justice and accountability mechanisms. WITNESS has partnered with hundreds of organizations, trained and equipped thousands of activists, and created customized resources, so that anyone, anywhere can harness the power of video for human rights.
“In this age, when the mass media rest in fewer and fewer hands, we must have strong, vital, independent voices if we ever want to hear all the stories or seek justice. We have an incredible opportunity to change lives.” – Peter Gabriel
As more people use video-enabled mobile phones to document, WITNESS empowers citizens around the world with the training, tools, and timely support to create real, lasting change. More people are capturing injustices on camera than ever before – and WITNESS is working to ensure that these videos change the course of history.
On 11 May 2017 WITNESS celebrated its 25th anniversary. Watch Peter’s video address to the WITNESS 25th Anniversary Gala that took place at The Edison Ballroom in New York.
“It’s extraordinary work that you’ve done.” says Peter. “Thank you so much. A brilliant 25 years and here’s to the next 25 years.”