Early Warning Systems (EWAS) help human rights defenders and organisations to obtain timely protection from authorities. Protection International has researched Early Warning Systems and offers assistance in the set-up and design of the protection response that the early warning is meant to trigger.


Early Warning Systems: triggering timely protective action from authorities

An Early Warning System is a method for people and institutions to work together, so that they can detect a potential protection incident or crisis before it happens. The system collects and analyses information (what, where, when) and triggers protective action from state authorities, or intervention by other players, which prevents the incident or crisis or mitigates its impact.

Effective Early Warning Systems provide sufficient time for protection response. These are based on careful planning and thorough analysis of conflict dynamics, as well as an identification of possible entry points for action. Public knowledge of Early Warning Systems helps to generate the political will required for achieving an effective response. The actual shape and form of Early Warning Systems differs from context to context – each setting requires its own objective, structure, methods of data collection and mandate of the monitoring authorities.


Community protection networks: when people react

A community protection network is another example of a preventive protection tool. Rather than focusing on the response of authorities or other external players, community protection networks are based on the reaction of the defenders, community members, or organisations themselves. People who gather and act in a unified way to confront a threat have proven to deter aggressors, even if the latter are armed.

Coordination, in-depth knowledge of the territory and what happens within its boundaries and shared understanding among the network members, are three keys to effectiveness. Protection International supports communities, like the village of Santiago Atitlán in Guatemala, in bringing these elements together.