The Fund for Global Human Rights has collaborated with Conectas to produce Sur 26: Reclaiming Civic Space, the 26th edition of Sur – International Journal on Human Rights. This is a special edition of the journal, authored by activists for activists. It documents the resistance of human rights groups during a time of increasing repression and restrictions on civil society, and offers key insights on the strategies frontline activists are using to reclaim civic space.
Research about the global crackdown on civil society often focuses on how the crisis has manifested and its impacts. Little has been documented about the ways national-level civil society groups are responding to shrinking civic space, or the effectiveness of these responses. Moreover, international actors conduct much of the current research, and when frontline activists do produce analysis, it is often to inform the work of larger groups or to feature as case studies. Sur 26: Reclaiming Civic Space changes this. The research documents the learning of activists from 15 countries, how they have evolved their strategies to reclaim civic space, and the challenges they experienced along the way.
To learn more about the issues explored in Sur 26: Reclaiming Civic Space, please read the letter to readers, authored by Juana Kweitel (Executive Director, Conectas Human Rights), Oliver Hudson (Editor, Sur Journal) and James Savage (Program Officer, the Fund for Global Human Rights). To read the journal articles, please visit the Sur 26: Reclaiming Civic Space website.
This collaboration with Conectas is a component of the Fund’s Enabling Environment for Human Rights Defenders Program, a global initiative that supports human rights activists to resist the crackdown on civic space. A cornerstone of the program is to support documentation and learning between activists, which this special issue of Sur facilitates.
Prior to the publication of Sur 26, through support from the Fund, Conectas brought together a dozen of the Sur 26 author-activists at a writers’ retreat in Sao Paulo. This opportunity helped the author-activists examine global and regional trends in closing space, discuss and share their strategies, review and provide feedback on each other’s texts, and reflect together on the importance of writing and documentation. The retreat enhanced and helped shape the final texts of Sur 26 while also providing a valuable space for frontline human rights defenders to collaborate on their work.
Check out the video below, which was produced at the writers’ retreat and offers a glimpse into the work explored throughout the 26th edition of Sur.