Craig Higson-Smith
Sandra Ljubinkovic
Daniel Ó Cluanaigh
Ali Ravi
Nora Rehmer
Hannah Smith
Bobby Soriano
Peter Steudtner
Publication Date

The Trainers' Manual was created partially as a companion to Tactical Technology Collective's Holistic Security Manual for Human Rights Defenders (see Related Summaries, below) and partially to reflect further learnings and best practices identified through Tactical Tech's facilitation of dialogues and engagements between experts and trainers in overall protection, digital security, and psychosocial well-being for human rights defenders (HRDs) between 2013 and 2015. First seeded in informal conversations between trainers who felt under-equipped in their work and by concerns from HRDs about how different trainers or trainings would inadvertently contradict each other, dismiss one another, or increase the perceived difficulty of a topic that was not their subject area, the idea to try and develop a holistic approach to security formed.

Holistic Security attempts to integrate best practices from – and mitigate differences between – different approaches to security and protection for HRDs. Many HRDs receive training and engage with self-learning materials focused on 3 "domains" of knowledge, including digital security, risk analysis and security management (also referred to as "physical security"), and psycho-social well-being (sometimes called "integrated security"). HRDs generally attend trainings that focus heavily on one domain and take little notice of other domains, in both organisation and content. This separation can have negative consequences, according to Tactical Tech. For example, a risk analysis training may be challenged if no space is made to discuss the effect of stress on HRDs' abilities to accurately perceive and evaluate threats. The holistic approach works to foster collaboration among experts and facilitators in all domains in order to create approaches, frameworks, and a shared language that is consistent and reinforces each domain of knowledge.

The manual is divided into these parts:

  • Part I includes general articles on best practices in facilitation of security and protection trainings for HRDs, whatever their main focus may be - digital security, risk analysis, integrated security, etc.
  • Part II includes stand-alone sessions that are offered "as-is", without explicit need for pre-requisites, and that can be carried out in the context of any security-related training. They were designed by participants of Tactical Tech's Training of Advanced Security Trainers (or TOAST!) as part of the Holistic Security project in April 2015 and subsequently elaborated upon at a writing sprint in the same month.
  • Part III includes 11 sessions which are designed to form a sequential "flow" based on the material from the Holistic Security Manual; they were designed and tested at two 4-day "Introduction to Security" trainings at the Center for Training and Networking in Nonviolent Action "Kurve Wustrow" in 2015. They do not, however, represent the totality of potential sessions that could be based on the manual and represent, rather, a first step towards a more comprehensive training programme curriculum.
  • The Appendix section includes: Handout: Information Mapping; Basic Text Cipher; Sample Flipchart Drawing - Information in Motion; Handout: Information in Motion; and Handout: Practices for Identifying Digital Security Indicators.

The structured learning sessions are, in general, organised according to the ADIDS approach (Activity-Discussion-Input-Deepening-Synthesis), an adult learning methodology.

Number of Pages: 



"Holistic Security & How We Got Here", by Hannah Smith, November 8 2016 and Holistic Security Manual website, both accessed on April 19 2017.