Rights! In Review – Editor’s Notes, 2020

We would like to thank all of our readers for visiting Rights! and for reading, sharing and contributing to our growing human rights and democratisation platform in 2020.

Over the past year, we have made a few changes at Rights! We bid a fond farewell to board member and Rights! co-founder Angela Melchiorre and long-time board member Vito Todeschini, to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude for their years of dedication, encouragement and innovation. Marcus Erridge took over as Editor-in-chief at the start of the year and we refreshed the editorial board with no less than seven new faces! Joining Cristiano Gianolla in 2020 are Luca Bonadiman, Saphia Fleury, Pawan Kumar, Simon Levett, Michaël Merrigan, Elettra Repetto and Meredith Veit. You can read their diverse and interesting rights profiles here.

During the year at Rights! we published several articles from our board members: Cristiano wrote the reflective piece The Moon, indigenous philosophy, colonialism and heritage and co-wrote Heritage “Vandalism” and The Echoes of Silenced Memories; Vito shared his co-written article The Right to Health in the Occupied Palestinian Territory during the COVID-19 Pandemic; Elettra contributed two timely articles, From political correctness to justice: racism beyond police violence and Yes, we still need the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women; Marcus produced an article for World Toilet Day; Luca co-authored a discussion on the future of progressive politics Bargaining for more; and Saphia penned the piece Climate Change and the Coronavirus.

Overall, in 2020 we significantly increased our output at Rights! – publishing 25 articles on a wide range of contemporary human rights topics from around the world. This past year was our most productive year to date, which also brought the highest number of views of our articles and visits to the website in a single year since we were founded in 2015.

Rights! 5 most read contributions by guest authors in 2020 were:

  1. Freedom of Expression and Sexual Orientation: Textualist Singapore Versus Expansionist India by Kartikeya Jaiswal and Pranay Modi (May 21 2020)
  2. Chile’s ‘October Uprising’ prisoners risk Coronavirus as Pinochet-era laws invoked by Carole Concha Bell (June 25, 2020)
  3. Protecting Migrant Workers’ Rights in Lebanon amid Political, Economic and Health Crises by Jasmin Lilian Diab (April 30, 2020)
  4. Democracy in Cambodia: A hoax? by Kartik Subramaniam (January 13, 2020)
  5. The challenges of deploying the army in civilian COVID-19 policing operations – a South African perspective by Angelo Dube (August 27, 2020)

During the early stages of the pandemic, we issued a call for papers, publishing a range of interesting articles in this series ‘Human Rights in the age of COVID-19’. These included: Choosing Our Words With Care by Veronique Lerch; Human Rights and Mental Health by Shivani Danielle Jacelon; and Anti-gypsyism and a State of Alarm: The “Exceptional” Continuity of a System of Racial Domination in Spain and Beyond by the activist collective Kale Amenge.

Another new format we introduced in 2020 was the New Publication series. We are interested in hearing from human rights writers about their latest books. Authors are asked to complete a short Q&A, discussing the talking points that form the focus of their latest publications. For example, Natalie Alkiviadou shared a piece about her book The Far-Right in International and European Law and we published a piece on Protecting Human Rights and Building Peace in Post-violence Societies by Nasia Hadjigeorgiou. Human rights academics and publishers are encouraged to contact us. Further information here.

Behind the scenes, we have started to make changes to our platform to make the content more accessible under the Quicker Read and Deeper Read sections. We have sought to fine-tune the submission and review process. Rights! are also encouraging more multimedia submissions, For example, in June 2020 we published a Q&A with human rights poet Laila Sumpton in our new Watch / Listen section which includes a video of Laila reading her poem ‘Morning prayers’. We are currently developing a brand new Rights! Radio podcast, set to launch in 2021, and are open to guest contributors.

In December 2020 Rights! issued our first call for papers for the New Year – Taking to the Streets. The last decades have seen a surge in political movements across the world. Mass demonstrations, riots, occupations and civil disobedience have spread from Hong Kong, to Hungary, from the US to Paris, from India to Nigeria, and from Brazil to the UK. People have marched, occupied and protested to reclaim their fundamental rights and democratisation of society and politics, at times using unconventional or even contested methods for participating in the democratic process. We are welcoming articles, photographic essays, short documentaries, and other forms of visual art from scholars, practitioners and activists for this new thematic series. Further information and a list of suggested topics can be found here. This thematic call will initially remain open until March 31 2021.

2020 has seen the rise and return of many ongoing human rights and political crises, which combined and compounded against the backdrop of a global pandemic, have resulted in growing civil unrest, driven by unprecedented income inequality. At the same time, traditional outlets of mainstream news media have repeatedly failed in their fundamental duties to and speak truth to power on the uncomfortable matters of human rights violations around the world. While most of us will be glad to see the back of 2020, in reality, as the economic and health impacts of the pandemic continue to unfurl, this coming year may be even worse for human rights around the world. 

Our mission at Rights! remains to offer an independent, accessible and egalitarian platform where different views, ideas, approaches, interests and practices meet. To gather together think pieces, comments from the field, case studies, interviews, book reviews, critiques and provocations from established and emerging human rights professionals and scholars from all regions of the world. To publish content that will always be free and shared under Creative Commons licensing.

We are looking forward to increasing our readership in 2021, as well as the range and diversity of contributors, as we reinforce our aim to publish timely, engaging and discursive articles on topics of human rights and democratisation.

Please like, share and subscribe to Rights! to receive notifications when we publish new content. Feel welcome to contact us with your ideas for submissions at our new email address: RightsBlog@protonmail.com

Follow us on Twitter @RightsBlog and LinkedIn.

Marcus Erridge

Editor-in-chief, Rights!

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