Open Call for Proposals: The RightsCon Program 2025

Deadline Date: June 02, 2024

Donor Name: RightsCon

Grant Size: Not Available

Proposals are being accepted for the RightsCon Program 2025.

Organizing a session at RightsCon offers a platform to showcase your work on a global stage, build coalitions and strategies, learn from fellow thought leaders, and shape policy agendas. You will be joining a network of business leaders, government representatives, technologists, academics, journalists, and human rights activists – the RightsCon community – who meet at the summit to collectively drive forward the digital rights movement. They don’t require a specific level of expertise to host a session; instead, they’re looking for proposals crafted with participation in mind, bringing together diverse perspectives, and an original framing and approach to issues relevant to the RightsCon community.

Ahead of RightsCon 2025, they’ve been reflecting on the long-term future and sustainability of the summit. Over the course of the past twelve years, they’ve seen some remarkable outcomes, and watched the community grow and the program adapt to reflect the ever-evolving digital rights landscape

For the summit to continue meeting the needs of the community at a pace they can sustain, they’re orienting the current cycle around a “back to basics” approach that prioritizes professionally-produced formats for a cross-sector community to connect, coordinate, strategize, and drive tangible outcomes over formats with high-cost, formality, and a speaker versus audience model. This means that they will be scaling down some areas, including curating a slimmer final program, and reduced mainstage programming, while expanding others: more support for proposers, alternative entry points for contribution to the program, and more informal, open spaces for networking and non-programmed connections.

Program Priorities

The program categories reflect the most pressing issues for the RightsCon Community, provide structure to the review process, and inform the creation of tracks that participants will use to navigate sessions during the summit. Additionally, proposals may be assigned to one of the “intersecting themes” – health, disability rights, gender justice, youth and children’s rights, indigenous rights, and environment – which cut across some or all of the program categories:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies
  • Business and Human Rights
  • Conflict and Humanitarian Action
  • Content Governance
  • Data Protection
  • Digital Security for Communities
  • Futures, Fictions, and Creativity
  • Freedom of the Media
  • Freedoms and Agency in the Age of Surveillance
  • Global Cyber Norms and Encryption
  • Governance, Politics, and Elections
  • Human Rights-Centered Design
  • Internet Access and Inclusion
  • Internet Shutdowns and Disruptions
  • Justice, Litigation, and Documentation
  • Online Hate and Violence
  • Organizational Capacity and Funding
  • Tactics and Contexts for Activists

What’s new?

  • Changing timelines
    • This year, session proposers will receive notification of their proposal’s final status in late August, six months in advance of the summit, in contrast to the previous three month timeframe. Thanks to community feedback, they’ve restructured the program timelines to make sure that session organizers have ample time to plan their participation, whether in-person or online. While session organizers will learn about the status of their participation much sooner, the update form will remain open until October, to leave additional time for organizers to finalize their session design and speaker lineups.
  • The hybrid approach
    • Building on the successes and learnings from RightsCon Costa Rica (2023), the upcoming hybrid summit will follow a similar model, with a combination of in-person, online, and hybrid programming during the in-person summit hours (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. local time) and online programming outside summit hours. Due to technical and financial constraints, and the coordination challenges of delivering sessions across multiple timezones, they will host a reduced number of hybrid sessions in the roundtable and private meeting formats only. If you’re interested in hosting a session in either of these formats and require hybrid capabilities, please articulate in the proposal form why crossover participation is essential to achieving your session’s objectives.
  • Supporting session proposers
    • Not sure about the best format to support your session goal? Need a question answered before submitting your proposal? They’re here to help! They training series has been extended to the proposal stage of program-building to provide additional support to session proposers. During these proposal training sessions, they’ll guide you through the ins-and-outs of the proposal platform, explain the review process and selection criteria, and share best practices and tips for building successful proposals. 
  • Single speaker nomination
    • If you’re not ready to submit a proposal but would like to share a thematic or regional perspective, consider nominating yourself for the “single speaker list” and potentially contributing to an accepted session. Session organizers will have access to this repository, and if you have a perspective that meets a gap in their lineups, they’ll contact you directly.

Modes and Formats

  • You can choose to host your session either online or in-person. Online sessions are hosted entirely on the virtual Summit Platform and are scheduled across different time zones. In-person sessions are held at the venue and scheduled from 9:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m local time. As mentioned above, hybrid capabilities will only be available for a limited group of roundtables and private meetings and will be hosted during in-person summit hours. If you are intending to bring in virtual participants for a hybrid session, please be mindful of whether your intended participant group will be able to join during the local time zone’s programming hours.

For more information, visit RightsCon.

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