Essays • Case studies • Institutional reflections • Artistic pieces
Sur International Journal on Human Rights
Call for Edition n. 27
Internet and Democracy
Conectas Human Rights invites contributions in the form of articles, case studies, institutional reflections and artistic pieces (further details below) – with preference given to activist voices from the Global South – for the 27th edition of the Sur International Journal on Human Rights, to be published in July 2018. Contributions can be sent until 31 March 2018 (11.59pm).
As well as publishing general interest pieces on human rights (from a Global South perspective), the 27th edition will also contain a Sur File that will focus on Internet and Democracy.
There has been a dynamic evolution in recent years of information and communication technologies, including the advent of the internet and the use of mobile devices on a global scale. This has brought new challenges in terms of how democracies function around the world and for the protection of civil and political rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant international treaties. By allowing new forms of dialogue and interaction between citizens and their leaders, these technologies offer a series of new channels between the general population and formal institutions. Moreover, the discourse and demands from socially and economically disadvantaged individuals and communities have, through the internet, found a space for expression, in a context otherwise dominated by traditional media which disseminates a more homogeneous debate.
In this regard, the private sector is emerging as having a decisive role. With unprecedented numbers of users,11. Data from the third quarter of 2017 show that Facebook had 2.07 billion active monthly users around the world, a 105% increase over the same period in 2012. The country with the highest population, China, has 1.379 billion inhabitants (2016). companies such as Facebook, Alphabet / Google and Twitter and the services they offer are increasingly the main channels for sharing information and opinions. Because these platforms are free to access and because of the commercial agreements that these companies have with telecom operators, their role in the circulation of information is particularly significant, especially with regards the most vulnerable populations. The prevalence of social networks and the constant growth of access to them “on the move”22. Accesses by mobile devices accounted for 84% of Facebook’s monthly active user volume in the fourth quarter of 2016. This is a 302% increase over the same period in 2011. has been responsible for the spread of the digital public sphere. This, in turn, has considerably strengthened the power and influence of such companies and their policies. At the multilateral level, minimum standards of respect for human rights by companies were only established in 2011 with the approval of the Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. The Principles describe how states and companies should implement the United Nations’ “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework in order to better manage business and human rights challenges.
These developments bring to light new dynamics in terms of restrictions on freedom of speech and vigilance by state institutions. This has an immediate impact on democratic debate, including the right to political participation, freedom of expression and citizen autonomy. In addition, the emergence of such technologies has brought a number of new risks and complications in the global democratic arena. In the context of significant political polarisation, economic crises and the questioning of institutions – a phenomena seen offline both in Brazil and in several countries around the world – fake news and the use of automated (“bots” ) or semiautomated (“cyborgs”) programmes in order to influence the public debate in a surreptitious way have spread on a viral level. Studies point to the growing impact on election results due to the use of inaccurate stories and false profiles in elections in Brazil in 2014;33. GRAGNANI, Juliana, “Exclusivo: investigação revela exército de perfis falsos usados para influenciar eleições no Brasil.” BBC Brasil, 08.12.2017. Available at http://www.bbc.com/portuguese/brasil-42172146. Accessed: 03.01.2018. in the US in 2016;44. ALLCOTT, Hunt and GENTZKOW, Matthew, “Social media and fake news in the 2016 election.” National Bureau of Economic Research, 2017. Available at http://stanford.io/2Aiw6gw. Accessed: 03.01.2018. and in Kenya,55. WADHWA, Tarun, “Kenya’s Election Proves Fake News Is A Serious Threat To International Security.” Forbes, 14.08.2017. Available http://bit.ly/2AhZX8T. Accessed: 03.01.2018. the United Kingdom66. MASON, Rowena, “Theresa May accuses Russia of interfering in elections and fake news.” The Guardian, 14.11.2017. Available at http://bit.ly/2AipaQB. Accessed: 03.01.2018. and Germany77. SCOTT, Mark, “Ahead of election, Germany seeks fake news antidote.” Politico, 31.08.2017. Available at http://politi.co/2Aguzrk. Accessed: 03.01.2018. in 2017. It must not be forgotten that, as politics becomes increasingly polarised and new online voices emerge, violence from conservative forces intensifies against women and minority groups, including the LGBTI population and racial minorities.
It is with these challenges in mind that the Sur Journal proposes, for its 27th edition, to bring together academics and human rights activists, mainly from the Global South, to debate the impact of the Internet on democracy. The edition will have two guest editors from InternetLab (Mariana Giorgetti Valente and Natalia Neris) and one guest editor from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Fabio Balestro).
In a year marked by various electoral processes around the globe,88. Including, in addition to Brazil (October), Costa Rica (February), Russia (March), Colombia (March and May), UK (May), Iraq (May), Egypt (by May), Italy (possibly June), South Korea (June), Pakistan (July), South Sudan (July), Mexico (July), Sweden (September), Zimbabwe (by September), Belgium (October), United States (November), Turkey (although scheduled to be in 2019, will probably be brought forward to 2018), India (eight state legislative assemblies throughout 2018) and Lebanon (possibly at the end of 2018), among others. Sur seeks to advance the debate by publishing contributions from professionals, specialists and human rights and democracy activists on the following themes:
Submissions can be made in Portuguese, English or Spanish and must be between 7,000 – 20,000 characters including spaces in the following formats:
Analysis of a human rights topic, with preference for articles that deal with issues of transnational significance and that are based on empirical research.
Critical case studies on the implementation of advocacy strategies, litigation and other experiences and which analyse their impact on the practice of human rights.
Short pieces by civil society and human rights organizations on their experience in management, evaluation, fundraising and sustainability or other related issues.
Recognising the importance to communicate to broader audiences about human rights topics, the journal seeks artistic pieces such as collections of photographs or cartoons, videos or poems that relay a specific human rights message (which can, if necessary, be explained by a short text).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.