RightsCon Program

What can you achieve with the RightsCon program

The RightsCon program is built to facilitate cross-sector connections, foster productive collaboration, and ultimately, turn conversation into concrete outcomes. Each session is designed with a distinct goal in mind to help you move your work forward and achieve your outcomes. Choose one of the 6 formats below that best serves your session goal: 

Dialogue

Explore perspectives around a thematic or regional issue area

Roundtable

Consult and collect input from participants on a project, practice or policy

Workshop

Build skills, co-create resources, and develop tactics


Private Meeting

Collaborate and build support with invited stakeholders

Lightning Talk

Deliver a concise call to action

Tech Demo

Showcase a tool, technology, or technical project

Meet our community

Every year, the RightsCon program is sourced through our annual Call for Proposals. Over 600 organizations hosted sessions for RightsCon Costa Rica. Meet a selection of our session organizers below:

Amazon
Amnesty International
Cisco
Digital Security Lab
Discord
Global Partners Digital
Human Rights Watch
Internews
Meta
Wikimedia
Center for Democracy & Technology Logo
Association for Progressive Communications Logo
Berkman Klein Center for internet & society at Harvard University Logo
CIPESA Logo
Dangerous Speech Project Logo
Freedom House Logo
Open Net Logo
Privacy International Logo
Small Media Logo
The Engine Room Logo

Program Highlights

Regulating online platforms

The Manila Principles, a civil society initiative established at RightsCon Manila (2015), set out guidelines on internet intermediary liability. Since then, the push for platform accountability has led to deeper partnerships between company decision-makers, such as Facebook’s Strategic Response team, and activists in our summit space.

Program Highlights

Responding to shutdowns

The #KeepItOn coalition, a network of more than 220 organizations from 99 countries, was formed at RightsCon Silicon Valley (2016). The summit also marked the first international consensus on the definition of an internet shutdown.

Program Highlights

Healthcare on the internet

With internet pharmacies and telemedicine on the rise, the Prescription Justice Institute developed the Brussels Principles to ensure safety and quality in the sale of medical products online. Named for RightsCon Brussels (2017), the principles continue to inform approaches to digital health, including responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Program Highlights

Human rights principles in AI

At RightsCon Toronto (2018), Access Now and Amnesty International launched a landmark declaration on the right to equality and nondiscrimination in machine learning. The Toronto Declaration addresses the risk of human rights harms associated with artificial intelligence technology.

Program Highlights

Combating hate speech

Equality Labs released a report at RightsCon Tunis (2019) detailing the failures of Facebook India’s content moderation policies to protect caste, religious, gender, and queer minorities from hate speech. The report has been cited widely, most recently in an open letter that prompted the resignation of policy chief Ankhi Das.

Program Highlights

Digital ID

Created in a closed-door Solve My Problem session at RightsCon Tunis (2019), the #WhyID coalition asks key decision-makers to consider the human impact of digital identity programs. Signatories include Audrey Tang, (Digital Minister, Taiwan), and Charles Mok (Legislative Councillor on IT, Hong Kong).

Program Highlights

Ban Biometric Surveillance

During RightsCon Online 2021, 25 new civil society organizations, and over 500 individuals, joined the #BanBS global coalition, a powerful new network working together to ban biometric surveillance. The coalition had evolved from a Solve My Problem session at RightsCon Online 2020.

Program Highlights

Developing a technologist code of ethics

United States Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power and New America Foundation CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter launched an initiative at RightsCon Online 2022 to develop a technologist code of ethics, in an effort by civil society and technologists to build a rights-respecting digital future.

Program Highlights

Safeguarding from harmful technologies

UN experts present at RightsCon Costa Rica (2023) issued a joint statement calling for greater transparency, oversight, and regulation to address the negative impacts of new and emerging digital technologies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Check out our answers to frequently asked questions. If you are unable to find the information you are looking, get in touch with us at [email protected]

What is RightsCon’s approach to a “hybrid” program?

Hosted both online and in-person, RightsCon 2025 will mark our second hybrid summit. The program will support six session formats intended to foster moments of connection and collaboration, and a schedule which will enable live participation across different time zones.

Based on how you anticipate joining us for RightsCon 2025, you can choose to host your session online or in-person. Online sessions are run entirely on our custom summit platform, while in-person sessions are held at our venue (to be announced in May). You can pick either option, but once you submit the proposal form, your selection is final.

Based on timezones, budgetary, and team capacity constraints this year, we have decided to reduce the amount of sessions that include hybrid elements. For the roundtable and private meeting formats only, there will be a select number of sessions that will be elevated to support a two-way exchange between online and in-person participants. If you are a session proposer for these formats, and are interested in being considered for hybrid elevation, we want to know why bringing both online and in-person participants together is necessary to support your session goals. Please note that unlike online sessions, hybrid sessions will only be hosted from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. local time, and so may not be ideal for the timezones you intend to reach to participate. 


For more information on our program structure and strategy this year, check out our Call for Proposals launch blog, where you can find the changes we’re making for this RightsCon cycle thanks to the valuable feedback we received from our community during our consultation calls.

How do I host a session at RightsCon?

RightsCon’s program is sourced through an open Call for Proposals. You can choose from six formats and choose to host either online or in-person. Each proposer can submit up to 3 proposals for consideration. The Call for Proposals closes on June 2, 2024.

Why should I contribute to the program?

RightsCon’s global platform can raise the profile of your work and provide direct access to thousands of participants around the world with the power and expertise to take your ideas to the next level. RightsCon equips session organizers with the space and tools to build skills, networks, and strategies for action. 

You’ll receive resources, support and training at every stage of the program-building cycle, including proposal writing trainings, resources on session design and production, ticket discount codes to share with the members of your session, tailored facilitation training for in-person, online, and hybrid environments, and orientation sessions before the summit to help you prepare and network with other organizers.

What topics does the program cover?

The program is broad in scope and supports many topics of continued importance for our community, including, artificial intelligence and emerging technologies, Content Governance, Online Hate and Violence, Internet Access and Inclusion, Business and Human Rights, and Tactics and Contexts for Activists.

We also look for new issues to prompt exploration. Recent summits introduced program tracks on art and activism, human rights-centered design, and humanitarian action, and intersecting themes on health, environmental sustainability, disability rights, and gender justice.

You can find the list of program categories for RightsCon 2025 in our Guide to a Successful Proposal. These categories will inform the final tracks that participants use to navigate the program and find sessions of interest.

Who evaluates the Call for Proposals?

Access Now works with a Program Committee to review the Call for Proposals. Every year, we invite academics, technologists, creators, activists, business leaders and policymakers from around the world to chair the Program Committee and help us select proposals based on our core evaluation criteria (relevant, actionable, original, diverse, and participatory). We also look holistically across categories and take other factors into account, such as gender and region, in order to create the strongest and most inclusive program possible.

What is the impact of the RightsCon program?

RightsCon positions our community to secure commitments, develop resources and campaigns, and set standards for human rights. Our summit has launched government initiatives, such as Tech for Democracy and the Technologist Code of Ethics, prompted statements from UN experts, produced coalitions to fight internet shutdowns, oppose the extensive surveillance of migrants in Latin America, and to prevent the misuse of digital identity systems, and established principles for non-discrimination in AI and the online sale of medicines.

Learn more about RightsCon’s impact in our most recent Outcomes Report.

What if I need funding to travel or participate?

RightsCon offers a Community Support Fund, available to those who wish to attend RightsCon in-person or online. The fund offers travel support for in-person participation(including travel, accommodation, among other travel-related costs), as well as direct financial support for online participation (including connectivity, translation and other services).

While the fund is open to everyone, we prioritize applications from session organizers, facilitators, and speakers from communities who are traditionally underrepresented in global convenings. However as a nonprofit organization with limited resources, we are unfortunately unable to guarantee funding to every applicant. Applications to the Fund will be open in early June and will be available through the RightsCon Proposal Portal.