Call for Papers


Issue No. 20 – Call for Papers

Perspectives on the International Human Rights Movement in the 21st Century
Deadline: March 10, 2014

Conectas Human Rightsinvites scholars and practitioners to submit articles for issue No. 20 of Sur Journal, to be published in July 2014. This will be a commemorative issue of the journal and will address the opportunities and challenges faced by the international human rights movement today.

Sur – International Journal on Human Rights is published twice a year by Conectas, in partnership with and with the support of Fundação Carlos Chagas. It is edited in three languages (English, Portuguese and Spanish), distributed free of charge to approximately 2,400 readers in more than a hundred countries, and can be fully accessed online.

The journal aims to strengthen the work of human rights activists through the promotion of a high-quality debate on human rights issues, primarily with a Global South perspective. Contributions from other parts of the world, however, are also welcome, especially if they are relevant for the theory and practice of human rights in the Global South.

SUR is indexed in the following databases: IBSS (International Bibliography of the Social Sciences); DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals); and SSRN (Social Science Research Network). The journal is also available in the following commercial databases: EBSCO, HEINonline, ProQuest and Scopus, and for free at Google Scholar, ISSUU and ISN Zurich (International Relations and Security Network).

Perspectives on the International Human Rights Movement in the 21st Century

Sur Journalwas created ten years ago as a vehicle to deepen and strengthen bonds between academics and activists from the Global South concerned with human rights, in order to magnify their voices and their participation before international organizations and universities. Our main motivation was the fact that, particularly in the southern hemisphere, academics were working alone and there was very little exchange between researchers from different countries. Over the years, we have published articles from dozens of countries on issues as diverse as health and access to treatment, transitional justice, regional mechanisms and information and human rights, to name a few. The journal’s aim has been to inform individuals and organizations working to defend human rights with research, reflections and case studies that combine academic rigor and practical interest.

The journal approaches its 20th issue against a very different backdrop than that of ten years ago. Over the past decade, we have seen emerging powers from the South assume an increasingly influential role in the definition of the global human rights agenda – sometimes assuming stances not too different from those of “traditional” powers. We have also witnessed hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets in protest against a wide variety of injustices in some of these emerging powers – although in most cases the uproar from the streets has not been translated into social or political justice. Additionally, the past ten years have seen the rapid growth of social networks as a tool of mobilization and a privileged forum for sharing political information between users.

This new backdrop has posed challenges to the international human rights movement, requiring changes if its discourse and action are to remain relevant and legitimate.

For issue No. 20, Sur would like to hear the perspective of human rights defenders and scholars on these challenges. We are particularly interested in articles that reflect on the following questions:

1.       Who do we represent?Most human rights organizations – unlike representative governments – are not subject to periodic elections, nor do they necessarily represent the interests of a specific group or of a broad base of members (like rural organizations or unions). The priorities of these organizations fundamentally reflect the vision of their staff and leadership and, very often, their agendas are not aligned with the issues considered a priority by the majority of people in the societies where they are based. Is it possible and recommendable to create mechanisms for local participation in the definition of the agendas of these organizations? Are there any successful experiences of this? How do we create channels of dialogue with society to discuss priorities and strategies?

2.       How do we combine urgent issues with long-term impacts?One of the main challenges facing the human rights movement is how to combine “traditional” forms of activism (litigation, in-depth studies on patterns of violations) intended to have a structural effect (influence policies, create legal precedents etc.), with the need to act quickly as urgent situations arise. How to maintain the necessary persistence to make an impact, as well as carry out planning to organize priorities, while also being able to react quickly to everyday events? How do human rights organizations deal with this tension between “planning/medium term” and “current conditions/short term”?

3.       Are human rights still an effective language for producing social change?From a historical perspective, there is no denying the success of the human rights movement in influencing the development of international and regional human rights standards and norms. But has the struggle for social and political justice through standard-setting in international and regional forums, with the intention of having these norms subsequently incorporated into domestic law, produced the expected results? What lessons have been learned in recent years by organizations that focus on standard-setting?

4.       How have new information and communication technologies influenced activism? Now that individuals can organize autonomously through social networks, without the mediation of organizations, has the role of human rights organizations changed in any way? Have the speed in which information is disseminated and the predominance of short texts made obsolete the traditional forms of action of these organizations, centered on the production of reports? Does this new timing leave room for more in-depth and rigorous reflection, such as academic articles, policy papers etc., which necessarily take more time to produce? Who reads them? Are there new ways to produce or “package” knowledge to inform the action of human rights defenders – or to analyze their activities?

5.       What are the challenges of working internationally from the South? Accompanying the process of global change and greater prominence of some emerging countries, large human rights organizations are now opening offices in the South (in the words of Amnesty International, “moving closer to the ground”). What, in the methods of these organizations, will change as a result of this transition (in their decision-making processes, in their relations with local organizations, in their relations with the governments of these emerging countries, etc.)? Meanwhile, organizations from the South are taking on a more important role in the international agenda. What are the challenges of working internationally from the South? What is or what might be the impact of the greater diversity of voices and leaders in the international human rights movement? There being more voices, do we need new coordination tools to be more effective. If so, which?


Articles submitted to Sur Journal are evaluated by external reviewers in a blind review process. The final selection of the articles takes these external reviews into consideration and is based on a comparison of the articles submitted for each issue. The Editorial Board does not provide reasons for rejecting articles.

Since distribution of the journal is free of charge, we unfortunately cannot remunerate the authors. Regarding copyright, Sur Journal uses Creative Commons 2.5 license to publish articles, thereby preserving the rights of the author.

Contributions should be sent electronically (in Microsoft Word format) to the email address and follow the guidelines listed below:

–          Length: 15,000 to 30,000 characters with spaces, including bibliography and footnotes.

–          Footnotes must be concise;

–          Submissions must include:

o   A short biography of the author (maximum 50 words);

o   An abstract (maximum 150 words);

o   Keywords for bibliographic classification;

o   The date the article was written.

– For the core text, use “Garamond”, 12 point and 1,5cm of space between the lines;

– For the references throughout the text in the format (AUTHOR, year, p.), use “Garamond”, 10 point;

– For the endnotes, use “Garamond”, 10 point and no space between the lines;

Important ! All the articles should follow the guidelines for the authors, in order to be considered for publication in the Sur Journal.