Thank you for a historic RightsCon Online
Last June, at the end of RightsCon Tunis, we announced our intention to bring RightsCon to San José, Costa Rica. Instead, in 2020, we embarked on a journey to somewhere entirely different and unexpected – creating a fully online RightsCon experience, from start to finish.
With 300+ sessions and 7,828 participants tuning in from 158 countries, representing every time zone and region of the world, RightsCon Online demonstrates the importance of convening, and embodies the strength, resilience, and solidarity of our global community in a time of crisis.
Together, we raised the bar for the conversations we host and the work we do
The program was a reflection of the state of our human rights at this moment. We brought to the fore critical conversations about elections, protesting, and surveillance in the context of COVID-19. We hosted discussions about racial justice that have, for too long, not been adequately represented at our summit. We continued to challenge narratives that oppress, marginalize, and silence underrepresented voices, integrating perspectives on indigenous rights, disability rights, environmental sustainability, and linguistic diversity across our program. We talked about migration, peacebuilding, and the need to connect in conflict zones. And we ensured that sessions fully reflected our commitment to gender justice and inclusion, with 65 percent of our session organizers identifying as women, nonbinary, or genderqueer, and a slate of discussions focused on feminist theory, LGBTQ rights, and gender and sexuality in the digital age.
Over the past five days, RightsCon Online has started crucial conversations, and our convening is already translating into tangible outcomes:
- Six U.N. Special Rapporteurs joined a statement warning of closing digital space amid the COVID-19 pandemic;
- A new Digital Trade Alliance was announced in a session with the World Trade Organization;
- Over 2,100 organizations and individuals signed on to an open letter to Facebook to protect Ethiopians from violence-inciting hate speech;
- The Canadian government announced a $2 million CAD investment in online safety for human rights defenders, journalists, and civil society groups;
- Coalizão Direitos na Rede and Access Now called on representatives from Brazil’s Congress to address a harmful bill on “fake news,” leading to direct commitments to improve and modify provisions of mass traceability and user identification;
- And so much more.
In the coming weeks, we’ll spend time mapping out the numerous achievements from this year’s summit for the RightsCon Online outcomes report.
It’s not over yet – continue engaging on the RightsCon Online platform
For the first time, participants can continue to engage with content featured in the program after RightsCon Online officially closes. Until at least September, you can log in and watch many of the recorded sessions, Lightning Talks, and Tech Demos. For those that didn’t join us at RightsCon, you can visit the Access Now YouTube page to watch a number of highlighted discussions.
What’s next? Here’s what we know: the RightsCon community will come together again in 2021
The world is an unpredictable place right now, but one thing is clear: there is still work to be done. In Hong Kong, a new national security law is being used to arrest students based on their social media activity. In Hungary, press freedom is at a breaking point with the firing of the independent outlet Index’s editor-in-chief, and in the United States, cuts to the Open Technology Fund illustrate further threats to civic space. All across the world, there is a need to protect free and open spaces and societies that uphold and respect our human rights.
It is our deep commitment to bring this community together – whatever the circumstances we’re working under – in a safe, sustainable manner. So while we normally love a big reveal in our Closing Ceremony, in 2020, we can only say: stay tuned and see you soon.