eyeWitness to Atrocities appoints two renowned international law experts as Counsellors to the Board

Wednesday 13 December 2023

eyeWitness to Atrocities, founded by the International Bar Association (IBA), has appointed distinguished international law experts, David J Scheffer and David Tolbert, as Counsellors to its Board of Trustees.


Professor Scheffer, with expertise in international law and criminal justice, has played a pivotal role in shaping global human rights policies. Notably, he served as the first United States Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues (1997-2001) and led the US delegation to establish the International Criminal Court (ICC). His vast experience includes negotiating the creation of five war crimes tribunals, chairing the Atrocities Prevention Inter-Agency Working Group and serving as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Expert on UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials. Recognised as a ‘Top Global Thinker of 2011’ by Foreign Policy magazine, Professor Scheffer's commitment to justice has been further acknowledged with awards such as the Berlin Prize (2013) and the Champion of Justice Award (2018).

Professor Scheffer said of his appointment as Counsellor to the eyeWitness Board of Trustees, ‘I am honoured to have been designated, along with my long-time colleague and friend, David Tolbert, as a counsellor to the eyeWitness to Atrocities board.  The role of eyeWitness in recording atrocity crimes and other human rights abuses has become critical as the authenticity of filmed events is challenged by manipulation of social media and by disinformation and misinformation campaigns.  Access to eyeWitness enables courts of law, in particular, to view a trusted source of evidence. I look forward to assisting eyeWitness with its worthy mandate in the pursuit of justice.

Mr Tolbert brings to eyeWitness extensive experience as an international human rights lawyer and former war crimes prosecutor. He has been a leading figure in international criminal justice, humanitarian law and transitional justice, contributing significantly to each field. Mr Tolbert’s experience includes almost 15 years of dedicated service to the United Nations where he has held key positions, including serving as Registrar of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Deputy Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and UN Assistant Secretary-General and Special Expert to the UN Secretary-General on the Khmer Rouge Trials. Mr Tolbert also served as Chief of the Legal Division of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Austria, Gaza and Vienna. He has been awarded a Ford Foundation Fellowship and a Jennings Randolph Fellowship at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

Of his appointment as Counsellor to the eyeWitness Board of Trustees, Mr Tolbert said: ‘I am honoured to join as a Counsellor to the Board of eyeWitness. It is playing an important role in collecting evidence and utilising expertise to enable accountability in a range of countries and situations. eyeWitness is making a real difference in the fight against impunity and playing a key role in Ukraine and many other countries and situations, addressing abuses and violations. I look forward to working with this important initiative. It deserves support for its critical work.’


The eyeWitness to Atrocities app is an award-winning, free, mobile phone camera tool for android phones that enables on-the-ground documenters to capture verifiable photo, video and audio footage of human rights violations. At the moment of capture, the eyeWitness app embeds the footage with the metadata required to demonstrate authenticity, allowing the footage to be relied on by investigators and to be used in court. Then, when an app user sends footage to the eyeWitness server it is stored in a secure LexisNexis® repository in a way that guarantees the chain of custody. Thereafter, in collaboration with a team of lawyers, eyeWitness analyses the footage received and prepares detailed dossiers for a range of domestic and international accountability mechanisms, including the ICC and UN. To date, more than 65,000 photos, videos and audio files have been captured using the eyeWitness app.

Dr Mark Ellis, eyeWitness originator and IBA Executive Director, said: ‘The commitment to international justice brought by David Scheffer and David Tolbert aligns seamlessly with eyeWitness’ mission to contribute to the pursuit of accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and other human rights violations. Their wealth of experience and tireless commitment to international law make them invaluable additions to the organisation.’

Carrie Bowker, Director, eyeWitness said: ‘We are confident that the expertise brought by Mr Scheffer and Mr Tolbert will significantly enhance the efforts of eyeWitness. Together, with our distinguished Board of Trustees and Advisory Board, we are better equipped to bridge the gap between frontline documentation and the pursuit of justice, using the innovative combination of law and technology that defines eyeWitness to Atrocities.’


Notes to the Editor

  1. Useful links:
    • Click here for the eyeWitness Ukraine - Resources Hub.
    • Click here to download the eyeWitness to Atrocities camera app.
  2. About eyeWitness
    Founded by the International Bar Association in 2015, eyeWitness to Atrocities (eyeWitness) helps human rights defenders around the world capture and use verifiable photos and videos for justice. As well as providing the specialist eyeWitness to Atrocities camera app, eyeWitness also offers training on photo and video documentation, legal expertise and links to key investigative bodies such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. All these services are free. By combining law with technology, eyeWitness ensures that images are not only verifiable, but that they can be used to hold perpetrators accountable in courts of law.
    Find eyeWitness to Atrocities on social media here:
  3. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, with the aim of protecting and promoting the rule of law globally, the IBA was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice. The IBA acts as a connector, enabler, and influencer, for the administration of justice, fair practice, and accountability worldwide. The IBA has collaborated on a broad range of ground-breaking, international projects with the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, The Commonwealth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among others.
  4. Find the IBA on social media here:

For further information, please contact:

Romana St. Matthew - Daniel
Press Office
International Bar Association

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Website page link for this news release:

Short link: https://tinyurl.com/2xj6jt3v

Full link: www.ibanet.org/eyeWitness-to-Atrocities-appoints-two-renowned-international-law-experts-as-Counsellors-to-the-Board