Peer Producing Human Rights


  • Molly Beutz Land



The growth of collaborative technologies has spurred the development of projects such as Wikipedia, in which large groups of volunteers contribute to production in a decentralized and open format. The author analyzes how these methods of peer-based production can be applied to advance international human rights as well as the limitations of such a model in this field. An underlying characteristic of peer-based production, amateurism, increases capacity and participation. However, the involvement of ordinary individuals in the production of human rights reporting is also its greatest disadvantage, since human rights reports generated by citizen activists are less likely to be perceived as accurate, thereby detracting from the effectiveness of those reports. The author examines methods by which these disadvantages might be overcome and concludes by advocating for a collaborative approach, whereby peer-based production is augmented by training and certification by local professionals.

Author Biography

Molly Beutz Land

Associate Professor of Law, New York Law School. My thanks to Elizabeth Chambliss, Bruce Elman, Dan Hunter, David Johnson, Patrick Meier, Frank Munger, Beth Noveck, and the participants at the Four Societies Colloquium on International Law and Democratic Theory and the Southeastern Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting for invaluable feedback. Nicole Kennedy provided excellent research assistance.