Citizen Media

Editor's Note: This post is written by Ibrahim Mothana who is an Atlas Corps Fellow with in 2011/2012. He is a Yemeni citizen from Sanaa. 

In Yemen it’s difficult to know just how many wars are raging in the country at any one time. For centuries the country has been plagued by revenge killings and tribal conflict and the result is hundreds of deaths each year with many more injured. These localized wars can last for decades and are one of the most serious issues facing the country today.

In rural regions of Yemen, formal legal systems and a legal infrastructure do not exist, and tribal law has significant legitimacy as the only effective and efficient means of conflict resolution. Tribal laws are based on consensus, and conflicts are resolved through complex mediation processes and appeals procedures presided over by tribal elders and leaders (sheikhs).  Due to the lack of many formal legal channels and the corruption in the legal infrastructure that exists, tribal law is faster, more efficient, and enjoys greater legitimacy.

Yet one of the biggest obstacles in using tribal law as a tool for conflict resolution is the lack of communication -- which is, in fact, often the root cause of many of the disputes between tribes. Creating dialogue between communities becomes an extraordinary challenge in a country with 24 million people dispersed over 150,000 human settlements. 

11.29.11 IbrahimMothana Citizen Media

Armed with a few Kodak Zi8 cameras, 6 HTC Wildfire mobile phones, energy, expertise in training citizen journalists, Small World News is working to share stories from Libya with the larger world.

Small World News is on the ground in Benghazi training Libyans to capture and tell video stories of events in this volatile region. Along the way, the team has also captured footage that no other main stream media outlet has been able to get. chatted late last night with Brian Conley, founder of Small World News, to hear how things were going. What we learned is that capturing and sharing stories from Libya is as much about technology as it is about establishing trust and connections with the journalists on the ground.

Small World News and

Small World News is a documentary and new media company that provides tools to journalists and citizens around the world to tell stories about their lives. We wrote about Small World News last when it helped an independent Afghan news agency integrate mobile phones and SMS into news reporting. 

As part of its work in Libya, Small World News captures audio reports from individuals on the ground to broadcast to a larger international audience. It does this via Speak2Tweet, a collaborative project from Google, Twitter, and SayNow, which allows a caller to Tweet by calling a phone number and leaving a voicemail. 

06.10.11 MelissaUlbricht Citizen Media

If you are participating in a peaceful assembly as a journalist, rights defender, or activist, your mobile phone is an invaluable asset. It allows you to communicate with allies, to document the event, and bear witness to what is happening around you. At the same time, you should take certain precautions in your mobile use and communications. The following Guide can help you to utilize your mobile phone during peaceful assemblies effectively and, at the same time, better protect yourself.

In most public assemblies, you face risks from:

  • Loss and seizure of your mobile phone;
  • Disruptions to service from hardware or network failures;
  • Surveillance of your communications.

Each of these risks can be mitigated to some extent so long as you plan ahead, know your phone, and the basics of how mobile communications works. Remember though, that every situation is different and that mobile phones are inherently insecure communication devices. We urge you to review this Primer on Mobile Risks for more guidance in assessing your mobile risks.

05.18.11 Ramy Raoof Advocacy Citizen Media Democratic Participation