What is Video Advocacy?

WITNESS defines "advocacy" as a process that will bring about change in policies, law or people's behavior. And we define "video advocacy" as using visual media as a targeted tool that will engage people to create change. Video advocacy is not about using video primarily for publicity or as an educational or training tool. It requires setting specific objectives, identifying target audiences, and developing a strategic plan for production and distribution to ensure the video has impact as a specific tactic within a broader strategy.


WITNESS has found video advocacy to be most effective when used hand-in-hand with other advocacy tools such as litigation, research, organizing, and monitoring. Read our Case Studies to see how video advocacy has made an impact in our partners' campaigns for change.


WITNESS partner videos have been used in diverse arenas and have targeted a wide variety of audiences including:

  • Courts, tribunals and other judicial bodies
  • Legislative and executive bodies
  • Human rights bodies, commissions, special rapporteurs and working groups
  • Key decision-makers with influence on human rights issues (international financial institutions, corporations, aid agencies, etc.)
  • Press
  • NGOs, solidarity groups and community-based organizations


Anyone can use video advocacy, from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to individual activists. Video is a democratic tool. However, video advocacy is a time- and labor-intensive process that requires significant commitment of human and other resources. And, as with all methodologies, it has advantages and limitations.


The Training section of our website is designed to help anyone interested in using video advocacy in their campaigns. All materials are downloadable and sharable. In our Tip Sheets section you will find tools for assessing if video is right for your campaign as well as practical how-to guides to help you make the most of video for human rights change.

Start using our Tip Sheets now!


If you've used our tools and would like to make suggestions, comments, etc. please contact us. We'd love to hear your feedback.

WITNESS Book: Video for Change

This book is a must-read for human rights, environmental, and social justice organizations wanting to use video in their work. The book provides tips, a compelling range of case studies, and easy-to-use exercises... Download book »

March 5, 2014 - By Matisse Bustos Hawkes
Covering sexual assault, including rape, can bring swift and unpredictable repercussions, leaving many journalists and others torn over how best to navigate the risks. A guest post from the Committee...
August 1, 2013 - By Madeleine Bair
A viral video from Russia makes inadvertent accomplices of viewers and LGBT activists. How can the online community expose abuse while avoiding further harm?
April 18, 2014 - By WITNESS
Más de una docena de activistas de derechos humanos y audiovisuales están participando en un taller de videoactivismo ofrecido por especialistas de WITNESS. The post Activistas de DDHH Saharauis...
April 11, 2014 - By WITNESS
A new mobile app addresses the challenge of verifying citizen footage. Plus, a politician brings citizen video of abuse to the Organization of American States. The post The Growing Role of Image...
May 31, 2013 - By Kim Howell
In a controversial media campaign that aims to teach the Geneva Code to Syrian rebel fighters, the most overlooked aspect might be the emotions.

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