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Centre of Governance & Human Rights (CGHR)


The 2019 Times Higher Education Award for International Collaboration of the Year was awarded  to a partnership between Amnesty International, Airwars and the Digital Verification Corps (DVC) for their innovative open source investigative work. The Cambridge DVC made up of student volunteers at CGHR and in collaboration with DVCs at five other universities, produced findings that fed into a more extensive investigation by Amnesty International and Airwars.  This investigation, ‘War in Raqqa: Rhetoric versus Reality,’ revealed evidence that the US-led Coalition's 2017 military campaign to remove the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) from Raqqa killed more than 1600 civilians – tenfold the number admitted by the coalition.

Reacting to the news of the award, Sam Dubberley, Head of Crisis Evidence Lab at Amnesty International and Manager of the Digital Verification Corps project, said:

'We're delighted, and this award recognizes what we and our university partners around the world already knew – that the Digital Verification Corps has gone from strength to strength since its inception only a few short years ago.

'Whether it's gathering digital evidence of potential war crimes or verifying content in real-time amid the recent wave of protest crackdowns in countries including Hong Kong, Iraq and Chile, this collaboration has pioneered some of the most cutting-edge human rights research in the world today.

'Open source investigations have really come into their own, bringing invaluable depth and context to journalism, litigation and other fields. What the dozens of students in Amnesty International's Digital Verification Corps at […]our […]university partners do is bring the same rigour and methodology to investigate some of the most pressing human rights issues of our time, to bring justice to the victims and hold perpetrators to account.'

About the collaboration, the award judged stated that they were 'incredibly impressed with the nature of the partnership, how it led to an impressive network of student investigators, and how it has delivered and continues to deliver data-driven evidence that can be used to prosecute war crimes and support society-building and social justice'.