Thank you, Tunisia — hello, Costa Rica!
A few short weeks ago, we wrapped RightsCon Tunis – our largest summit yet with nearly 3,000 participants. Every year, we’re blown away by the RightsCon community’s energy, generosity of spirit, and commitment to building a better future, and this year was no exception.
With 17 thematic tracks and over 450 sessions, the RightsCon Tunis program provided a space to push boundaries and redefine what human rights in the digital age means. As the first RightsCon hosted in Africa and the Middle East, we set out to provide a platform where people from across the region and around the world could come together, and with nearly 800 participants present from Tunisia alone, we are inspired by the strength of this movement.
We have too many favorite moments from throughout the summit to name, but here are just a few:
- U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet joined us in honoring the Human Rights Heroes of 2018, who are each doing vital work to advance privacy and security around the world.
- A group of U.N. Special Rapporteurs released an official statement to stress the importance of defending human rights in the development, use, and regulation of digital spaces.
- Many in our community joined the global #KeepItOn coalition to speak out against the internet shutdowns in Sudan, raising their voices for those who can’t.
- We released RightsCon Tunis Learnings, a community statement that considers each major topic of conversation at RightsCon 2019, outlining a starting point for centering human rights in each industry and body of work.
We are in the process of compiling the official RightsCon Tunis Outcome Report, documenting the many important achievements from this year’s event, and will be sharing it in the coming weeks.
But even in light of these advances, there’s more work to be done. We wrapped RightsCon Tunis Closing Ceremonies by asking this global community a pivotal question: what’s next?
For RightsCon, up next is … Costa Rica!
In 2020, we’ll be convening in the vibrant, flourishing city of San José, Costa Rica from June 9-12.
Why hold our ninth RightsCon in San José? From its long history of democratic stability to its strong record of promoting press freedom, Costa Rica is lighting the path to more open, sustainable, and connected digital spaces. This will be our first summit in Central America, and a much-anticipated return to Latin America after RightsCon Rio de Janeiro in 2012. From Mexico to Panama, across the Caribbean, and throughout South America, every key question at the intersection of human rights and technology is under debate, and for many in the region, it is becoming increasingly difficult to securely advance their work. To craft solutions to these issues requires deep engagement by a broad diversity of stakeholders, and we hope to help facilitate that ongoing, shared conversation.
The problems facing the RightsCon community are universal and interconnected. From Bangladesh to Bahrain to Bolivia, dramatic shifts in our environment are placing human lives at risk. Climate crisis is here, and the safety, security, and longevity of our community – both online and off – depends on our ability to rise to the challenge.
Costa Rica is home to a wide range of indigenous and local communities, and hosts one of the most biodiverse environments in the world. In 2020, RightsCon Costa Rica will not only host our most ambitious program yet – pushing the boundaries on many of the issues we’ve covered in Tunis – but will also bring to the fore much-needed conversations about environmental justice, indigenous rights, sustainability, and technology in the time of climate crisis.
How do we collectively address the impact of technology on the environment? What is the best route for engaging and connecting human rights defenders from all focuses, including indigenous community organizers? How can we promote connectivity for rural communities, accessibility for all internet users, and sustainable development that is equitable and built on a foundation of respect for human rights?
These and other questions need our focus. We will work to convene individuals working in very difficult conditions to meet with their peers in a safe space and to provide a platform for discussing these issues, amplifying the voices of those at risk, and showcasing the extraordinary strength and resiliency of the Latin American digital rights community.
We’re already hard at work ensuring RightsCon Costa Rica builds off of the success of RightsCon Tunis and we hope you, the global community, will be a central part of that effort.