Call for Papers

issue 26

Call for texts
Sur Journal

Essays • Case studies • Institutional reflections

Deadline: 15 September 2017

Call for Papers for a special 26th edition of
The Sur International Journal on Human Rights
Reclaiming civic space: Insights and learnings from and for activists


Conectas Human Rights and the Fund for Global Human Rights invites contributions in the form of articles, case studies and institutional reflections – with preference given to activist voices from the Global South – for the 26th edition of the Sur International Journal on Human Rights, to be published in December 2017. The special edition will focus on the responses to the crackdown on civil society currently seen – to different degrees – around the world.

The objective of the Sur International Journal on Human Rights, published by Conectas, is to influence the global human rights agenda by producing, fostering and disseminating innovative research and ideas, primarily from the Global South, on human rights practice.

Sur is an open access journal, edited in English, Spanish and Portuguese and has an online ( and print readership of over 20,000 people in more than 100 countries.

Reclaiming civic space: Insights and learnings from and for activists

Reports and research on the global crackdown on civil society (often referred to as the “shrinking” or “closing” of civic space) tend to focus on how it is manifested and its impacts – for example, details about yet another set of laws that restrict the financing of non-governmental organisations or the unlawful arrest of an individual or group of human rights activists.

There is, however, still too little documented about how civil society – and more specifically the human rights movement – is responding to this trend. There is even less material that assesses the effectiveness of these responses and which might inform future strategies by human rights activists and international actors. Moreover, most reports, studies, articles, blogs etc. are the work of international actors studying national contexts or groups/activists as objects of research. Where activists themselves produce analysis, it is often to provide data to inform these reports, or to feature as case studies in them.

Conectas and the Fund for Global Human Rights (FGHR) aim to address this imbalance and produce a special issue of the Sur – International Journal on Human Rights. We are seeking contributions, primarily from the Global South, that fall within the following topic areas:

1. What are the root causes of restrictions on civic space?

The current geo-political contexts present broad and different challenges for human rights activists. Restrictions that frame activists as “foreign agents” in Russia, the disappearance of activists in China, detention of journalists in Egypt and the assassination of human rights defenders in Honduras are well known examples. However, there exists many more less well known – but equally concerning – examples of the crackdown. The use of terrorism charges against Mapuche indigenous activists in Chile, attempts to control dissent on social media in Nigeria, presidential threats to human rights defenders in the Philippines and a crackdown to create an illiberal society in Hungary to name but a few. These are often lumped together as examples of “closing” or “shrinking” civic space. Yet such terms fail to address the nuances of the local contexts nor the complex web of actors and interests at the root of this crackdown.


2. How is the human rights movement reclaiming civic space?

The threat outlined in section one (above) is eliciting various responses from the human rights movement. Activists and practitioners are innovating in terms of with whom they build alliances. Similarly, there is increased emphasis on making links with organisations or movements removed from the traditional human rights sphere (so called cross-sectionality). Constituency-building is seen by some as key to preventing, mitigating or responding to restrictions on civil society.

3. How to sustain the human rights movement in the face of these threats?

Restrictions on cross-border philanthropy, and the insecurity and fear created by repression, have put increasing stress on the financial resilience, sustainability and well-being of human rights organisations and activists.

With this in mind, Sur Journal is now accepting contributions (in Portuguese, English or Spanish) between 7,000 – 20,000 characters including spaces in the following formats:

• Essays

In-depth analysis of any of the questions raised above, with a preference for essays dealing with issues of transnational significance and/or bringing a comparative perspective from different countries.

• Case studies

Texts on the implementation of civil society mobilisation, advocacy strategies, counter narratives and other responses and which analyse the impact of these strategies.

• Institutional reflections

Shorter pieces about sustainability, security and well-being, and alternative methods of funding in the face of the crackdown on civil society.



Selection Process and Authors’ Rights

Once submitted, the contributions will be subject to a review process. Each contribution is reviewed by a member of the Editorial team and, if it meets the Journal’s quality standards, by an external blind review. Due to the large number of contributions received for each issue, the Editorial Board is unable to inform authors why a contribution has been rejected.

In relation to authors’ rights, Sur Journal uses Creative Commons-Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 to publish its texts. This preserves the rights of the authors, while allowing readers to share its content.

Any submission that contains citations without appropriate references (plagiarism) will be disregarded immediately.

The Sur Journal does not charge authors a processing or publication fee.


Contributions should be sent to in electronic format (Microsoft Word file) and using the following standards:

Contributions received that do not follow the guidelines above (including the number of characters) may lead to it being immediately rejected by the Executive Board.


Contributions for the Sur Journal No. 26, to be published in December 2017 will be accepted for consideration until 15 September 2017. Contributions received after this date will be considered for the next edition of Sur.