CHALLENGE: THE WIKIMEDIA FOUNDATION TASKED ARTICLE ONE WITH CONDUCTING THE ORGANIZATION’S FIRST EVER HUMAN RIGHTS IMPACT ASSESSMENT (HRIA) – COVERING THE FULL SUITE OF IMPACTS RELATED TO ITS FREE KNOWLEDGE PROJECTS, INCLUDING WIKIPEDIA.
Article One’s deep expertise on the human rights challenges facing online communities has enabled the Wikimedia Foundation to gain a much deeper understanding of the risks and threats facing our own community. Thanks to their thorough and thoughtful analysis, the future of the Wikimedia movement is safer and more sustainable.
— Amanda Keton, General Counsel
Article One’s methodology was informed by guidance from the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and the GNI Principles and included five key phases:
During Phase One, Article One conducted a desk review of public and private information on the Foundation and Wikimedia projects, including news reports, research assessments and confidential information shared with Article One under a non-disclosure agreement. For Phases Two and Three, we supplemented the desk review with interviews of 17 Foundation staff and six leading external experts. The findings were then validated with six volunteers from across the globe. During Phase Four, Article One mapped the assessment findings against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and assessed Wikimedia’s responsibility for risks using the UNGP’s “cause,” “contribute,” “linked” framework.
The HRIA found that Wikimedia’s free knowledge projects help advance the realization of multiple human rights, including the right to free expression and to impart and access information. At the same time, the HRIA found that the Foundation faces five categories of salient human rights risks related to its free knowledge projects.
A full overview of the findings can be found in the jointly published report available here.
It is important to note that Article One and the Wikimedia Foundation jointly edited the public version of the report to protect the safety and security of Foundation staff and the larger volunteer community.
Since the report was first submitted to the Foundation in 2020, the organization has taken significant and impressive steps to better manage human rights risks and continue to evolve their approach in collaboration with Article One.
In addition to codeveloping with volunteer communities the Universal Code of Conduct for Wikimedia platforms, the Foundation has taken a number of steps in response to the HRIA findings, including:
Developing a Human Rights Policy, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in December 2021.
Building internal expertise and oversight, including hiring a Human Rights Lead and establishing a cross-functional Human Rights Steering Committee.
Strengthening human rights resources for volunteers including bolstering grievance channels, conducting targeted trainings, and developing the Foundation’s first Crisis Response Protocol.
Continuing human rights due diligence activities including a child rights impact assessment and a product-level human rights impact assessment.
Mitigating the impacts of disinformation including developing an institutional strategy and expanding dedicated research and tool building in cooperation with volunteer communities.
A full accounting of actions taken by the foundation is available in the organization’s forward to the report.