openDemocracy
Why Facebook’s fake news filter won’t work
March 29th, 2017, 10:53 PM

A range of solutions  –  including stronger independent media organisations  –  is going to be needed.

lead At the UN, Colin Powell holds a model vial of anthrax, while arguing that Iraq is likely to possess WMDs, 2003. Wikicommons/ United States Government. Some rights reserved.Last week, Facebook made a significant intervention into the debate around ‘fake news’, trialling a new feature (for now, just in the US) which both alerts users when an article they are trying to share has been disputed by fact checkers, and appends a disclaimer if the user decides to share it.

This is a significant escalation from Facebook’s previous response to the issue, a community-led reporting feature which was widely praised as an example of responsible practice by a tech company. So far, the new feature has not received much scrutiny from the digital rights community. It should; the implications are troubling.

Before we go into why, it’s useful to think first about where the concept of fake news comes from. The phrase came to prominence in the context of the US election, as part of a broader story of Russian interference. Fears over Russia have continued to frame the debate in the US  –  see the (now debunked) PropOrNot list, and the recently introduced bill to investigate RT America  –  but fake news has since become a global phenomenon.

Despite this, pinning down what fake news actually refers to can be difficult. In December last year, Hillary Clinton memorably described an “epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda”, a confusing elision of different types of media which points to a wider definitional instability. Anything and everything can now be described as ‘fake news’, whether that’s polls, the entire media, or even individual people. Acknowledging this, one of the producers behind the recent CBS 60 Minutes special on fake news took pains to clarify that the programme’s focus was “not the ‘fake news’ that is invoked by politicians against the media for stories that they don’t like”, but rather “stories that are provably false, have enormous traction in the culture, and are consumed by millions of people.”

Bilge?

What is only hinted at in this formulation (with the phrase ‘enormous traction’) is the role of the digital environment  ­–  and social media in particular – which is often posited as the key driver of fake news and the related phenomenon of ‘post-truth politics’. In a Guardian interview on this topic, the editor of Snopes – one of the four fact-checking outfits which will power Facebook’s new tool  – described social media in terms of an “opening of the sluice-gate”; “the bilge”, as he put it, “keeps coming faster than you can pump.” Like Clinton’s description of an “epidemic of malicious fake news”, social media is presented here as uncontrollable, riddled with infection — and toxic.

If only we could close the gates again! Before social networks, so the story goes, news  –  at least in open media markets like the US – was real and authoritative, based on fact rather than hysteria. “We all know that politicians have lied before,” an op-ed in The Humanist acknowledged in 2015, “Yet I sense a shift in the landscape of post-truth America. We’ve crossed some kind of frontier.”

When considering these arguments, it is important to remember that in 2003, several years before the advent of Facebook, virtually every US newspaper, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, published articles vouching for the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq  – claims which were later comprehensively debunked. Does this qualify as fake news? If not  – why not?

When is a fact checker a fake?

To be clear, I am not trying to argue that the digital environment cannot, in some cases, exacerbate the spread of misinformation, or facilitate its transmission. The internet’s radical empowerment of freedom of expression and access to information, while overwhelmingly positive for democracy and participation, also of course carries the potential for abuse. Facebook and other businesses have a role in making sure that their platforms are secure, healthy spaces for debate, freedom of expression and assembly. This requires thoughtful product design and user policies, which may include measures to deal with deliberate misinformation.

But there are clear problems with the approach Facebook is currently trialling. First of all, its very premise — that it is possible to unproblematically assess the veracity of news using fact checkers  –  does not stand up to any scrutiny. Fact checkers are not themselves immune to accusations of partisan bias. And even if they were, an obvious philosophical problem remains: is there even such a thing as objective truth? What we understand as fact is inextricable from questions of power, representation, geography and time. It’s important to remember, when considering the implementation of a fake news filter on the world’s largest communications platform, that people used to think the earth was flat, and doctors used to recommend smoking to patients.

To some this might seem like an academic, abstract problem, especially since most of the articles affected by Facebook’s filter would probably be egregious and offensive  –  like the article used in the feature’s US trial, which claims Irish people were brought to America as slaves.

But consider how a fake news filter might shape the way a user experiences their timeline; if, for instance, one in every ten articles were to appear with a disclaimer. Perhaps this would discourage that user from reading, or sharing, an inaccurate story; or would give them, at least, a more critical framework through which to assess it. Undoubtedly this is the outcome that Facebook would like to see.

But what about the stories which aren’t flagged up by the fact checkers? Mistakes  –  whether minor or serious  – are not uncommon, even among highly respected media organisations, and are often only discovered after publication; the Washington Post, for example, had to quietly qualify or withdraw two of its biggest stories last year. A fact checker would be of little use here. Indeed, the silence of Facebook’s fact-checking feature on a given article could even subconsciously encourage a user to let their guard down when reading it, and suspend their critical faculties. It is hard to see how this would improve or enrich political and intellectual culture.

Fake news, and the anxieties and structural problems for which it serves as a proxy, isn’t going anywhere. Facebook’s initiative is just one of many in the pipeline; in Germany, a draft law currently under consideration would impose fines of up to €50 million on platforms found to host fake news; while Factmata, a Google-backed startup, aims to apply a Facebook-style fact-checking system to search engines.

Developing a critical faculty

It’s beyond the scope of this article, brief and speculative as it is, to offer solutions, other than to suggest that, rather than seeking a silver bullet, we need a more holistic view of the phenomenon  –  one which centres the critical faculties of people, and attends to the structural factors which make people turn to ‘fake news’ in the first place.

A recent statement by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), suggesting schools should teach children how to spot fake news in schools, potentially offers a useful starting point, and warrants further discussion. The Democracy Fund’s announcement of a $1 million fund to tackle misinformation is also welcome, particularly in its acknowledgement that a range of solutions  –  including stronger independent media organisations  –  is going to be needed.

Above all, we need a much broader conversation on this issue. All of us – businesses, civil society, media organisations and technical communities  –  have a role to play in this debate. It would be unwise to leave it just to the fact checkers.

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Brexit is racist
March 29th, 2017, 10:53 PM

We are facing the biggest most overarching racist attack on immigration in generations. There is a void in politics. We must fight to win.

Movement for Justice campaigns against Brexit and Trump. Wasi Daniju/Flickr. Some rights reserved.

The following is a transcript of a speech given by Movement for Justice’s (MFJ) Antonia Bright at a Stop Trump rally in Parliament Square on Monday 20th February 2017, where a number of activists and leaders in civil society spoke out against Trump and the nationalist surge he embodies. Today, with the triggering of Article 50, the process of Brexit has formally begun. MFJ have been organising around the message that ‘Brexit is racist’ for months – are their priorities different now, will they rally around a different front? Antonia said:

“The fight to stop Brexit is one that has to continue. Nothing is settled, and in any case destroying the rights of minorities is not democracy. It has to be fought. There isn't a choice on that.


Brexit is not simply a letter the Prime Minister sends. It's the new anti-immigrant bill planned, the raids in immigrant communities, it's the violent attacks, the hate crime, the verbal abuse, the manipulation of who gets the right to stay and how many ways that is kept temporary and precarious.


There are going to be many struggles, and likely uprisings, and it can and must reverse the rightwards direction Brexit is taking us.”

Stop Brexit – Stop Trump

We are facing the biggest, most overarching, racist attack on immigration in generations.

Here it is embodied in Brexit, which has propelled Theresa May to power. In the US it is embodied in Trumps election. Across Europe it is embodied by electoral successes of fascist parties and the militarisation of borders against people.

It is up to a new movement and a new generation to organise, with the conscious programme needed to fight back and win: speaking the plain truth about racism, standing for real equality and dignity for all of our communities, including the right to be here, to live, work and study here – for every one of us. 

That is why MFJ exists: we have a program, we speak the truth about racism, sexism and bigotry, and we fight to win.

Nothing is settled, and in any case destroying the rights of minorities is not democracy. It has to be fought. There isn't a choice on that.

Theresa May led the British government’s 'hostile environment' policy that forced migrants into destitution; turned working a job into a criminal offence; set immigrants up to fail; tore apart legal aid; legitimised the bullying and harassment of children and students for being Muslim; threw thousands of international students out of the country, and imprisoned hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers and others of immigrant backgrounds into secretive indefinite detention.

Brexit is the outcome of the decrepit, unrelenting racist scapegoating of immigrants by politicians right here, over decades.

Brexit gave Trump inspiration, and confidence.

We must not use opposing Trump as an excuse for not opposing Brexit. We must be as bold about fighting racism here. That is how we do ‘solidarity’.

Brexit is racist. Brexit helped Trump. May depends on Trump for a Brexit deal.

Brexit is not democratic. 

It was a referendum called by demagogues, designed to destroy the rights and freedoms of millions of minorities, poor and oppressed people in this country. 

It not only attacks EU migrants, it is an assault on all migrant communities.

Destroying the rights of minorities is not democratic – it is tyranny.

No business as usual – we have to march – shut down London – come with us! Join MFJ!

We must not and will not be silent in the face of Brexit, Trump, May and her cronies – or any of the fascists pushing mainstream politics to the far right across Europe. Normalising immigrant-bashing is cover for their violent attacks on Muslim, migrant, black and Asian communities, women, queer, and trans people. 

We can take a lead from the thousands of students who walked out in NYC; the thousands out in LA, young people, Latina communities; the thousands who shut down the airports when Trump issued his Muslim Ban.

They didn’t say, ‘wait four years’ or ‘wait for the Democrats’. They recognized that the fight is today, and the frontline is we ourselves – the masses ‘yearning to breathe free’.

We can’t wait for Corbyn or Labour either, or for their ‘traditional Labour voters,’ who apparently don’t include black and Asian communities. We fight racism by Telling It Like It Is; avoidance is for the privileged. We’ve all been hurt by austerity. There’s not a reason or excuse to throw migrants under the bus. If we want a better life we better reject racist divide-and-rule and stand up for each other.

We’ve all been hurt by austerity. There’s not a reason or excuse to throw migrants under the bus. If we want a better life we better reject racist divide-and-rule and stand up for each other.

There is a void in politics. The political elite is not meeting the despair and uncertainty felt by millions because of their austerity. 

The emerging far-right want to fill that void with immigrant-bashing anti-Muslim lies. 

We have fill that void with a new integrated, independent, mass youth-led immigrant rights, civil rights movement, speaking the truth about racism, unafraid to be who we are, unafraid of power of the oppressed in action.

A movement has to be moving – we have to get marching – get striking – and up rising.

Not just today but tomorrow – not just to vote but exercise our voice in every possible way by any means necessary. 

Not just to show we are angry – but to win.

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5 reasons why we stopped a UKgov deportation flight to Nigeria last night
March 29th, 2017, 10:53 PM

As a government ghost flight prepared for take-off, activists intervened.

Stansted Airport, Tuesday 28 March (End Deportations)

Last night at Stansted Airport people who had lived in the UK, some for decades, were forced onto a plane bound for Nigeria and Ghana. They had been rounded up by immigration officers and torn from their families in an operation code-named “Operation Majestic”.

At 10:30pm, activists from End Deportations, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSMigrants) and Plane Stupid ran onto the runway and locked ourselves to the plane using arm tubes and tripods. We stayed there for more than eight hours. This is the first time this kind of direct action has successfully stopped a mass deportation charter flight.

So why did we do this? Here are five main motivations for taking the action last night.

1) Charter flights are secretive and dangerous

Mass deportation flights leave in the middle of the night, with no publicly available information about who is on the flight and when it leaves. Every person who is deported is accompanied by at least two guards. As recently as May 2016, one deportee was forced onto the plane by 8 Tascor guards and bound to his seat. People are restrained, sometimes even by their head, waist and wrists  — techniques so extreme, they are not even used in prisons.

2) Charter flights tear families and communities apart

Charter flights deport people who have lived in the UK for decades. Many of these people have family, friends and secure jobs in the UK. Charter flights will send them to places where they may have few or no ties, leading to homelessness and destitution on arrival.

 

Stansted, Tuesday 28 March (End Deportations)

 

One man, who is soon to be deported, has lived in the UK for 18 years with his wife, brother, nieces and nephews. He was detained by the Home Office after he informed them that he would miss one appointment because his sister had passed away. He has said that if he is taken back to Ghana, he will kill himself.

The Home Office has no respect for the dignity for these families. When they complain of having their lives ripped apart, the Home Office replies with a brutal indifference, telling them simply to conduct their relationships with their family and children via skype.

3) People with ongoing asylum claims are deported on charter flights

Under the Geneva Refugee Convention people have a legal right to claim asylum. It is illegal to deport someone while they are still trying to claim asylum. One person deported on the most recent charter flight to Nigeria (in January 2017) was still waiting for a decision on his asylum claim. He was issued a ticket only 2 days before the charter flight despite the fact that lawfully you should be given 5 days notice.

4) Like Trump’s Muslim ban, Charter Flights are racist

The Home Office schedules charter flights in advance. Immigration officers are under pressure to find enough people to fill those seats and work with the police to target particular ethnic groups, creating fear and isolation, disrupting and ‘othering’ communities.

5) We must resist racism in all its forms

Racism and xenophobia are on the rise, spurred along by government behaviour and rhetoric. Creating a “hostile environment” for migrants is an explicit policy objective. Brexit has unleashed a surge of racist violence. We need to combat “hate crime” and state racism, both at once. We must resist mass deportations.

 


 

 

Nadia Graham is pseudonym. This piece was written by the End Deportations collective. 

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Brexit: yes, you will suffer as well
March 29th, 2017, 10:53 PM

Bankrupt regions, impoverished hospitals, overcrowded prisons: Brexit will affect everybody in Europe. And yet nobody is taking responsibility for the mess.

Photo by Thomas Dedes for openDemocracy. Some rights reserved.

It is official now. The United Kingdom has invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and will leave the European Union. Don’t take it lightly -- this is not fake news, this is a historic event which will change Europe and your own situation dramatically. Disintegration of the continent is moving at full speed and it will generate many losers. 

You may not feel it yet, but life will be harder for a long time before it will get any better. The damage is largely self-inflicted; thanks to poor political craftsmanship on the two sides of the English Channel. It did not need to be this way. This is the irony of the current predicament.

I look at Brexit as an academic and as a citizen. As an academic I feel fairly happy: Brexit is a fascinating case to study and it increases the audience for my work. As a citizen, however, I feel deeply unhappy. I grew up in Silesia, behind the Iron Curtain, and a Europe without borders was my dream. Today this dream is being destroyed; I don’t want to see new walls, beg immigration officers for a visa; apply for a work permit in a Europe which I consider my home. 

Although I have worked and paid taxes in the United Kingdom for many years already, I am still a Polish national, hold a Dutch passport, and own a house in Italy. My family is spread across the continent and so are my pension contributions. Access to both will be much harder for me after Brexit. I wonder whether any official will help me to sort out personal problems caused by new walls erected throughout the continent.

You may think that Brexit will affect only nomads like me, and not settlers like you, perhaps. You did not plan to go on holidays to rainy Britain, so why bother? Make no mistake: Brexit will not be an amicable divorce and it will have implications for everybody. It is not easy to untangle 20,000 laws and regulations of the European acquis; there are numerous veto players on both sides of the negotiating table; and under the glare of the media emotions will play a greater role than rational calculations in the process of bargaining. 

This time Uncle Sam won’t be there to bring us all to our senses; Uncle Trump is likely to add to our complications. Brexit will create new dividing lines within the EU; the UK is already trying to bribe Poland and Hungary to help its case. Brexit will also create new dividing lines within the United Kingdom; Scotland already demands a new independence referendum. I would not be surprised if both negotiating partners – the EU and the UK – fall apart as a result of Brexit.

The idea that Brexit may well be good for the EU is absurd. "We would finally be able to create a truly European defence after Brexit," an Italian diplomat recently whispered to me. Sure, we just lost one of the two serious European armies, was my reply. A new building in Brussels does not amount to a European defence. With whom will we create a European army, with the Czechs and Belgians?

Nor can I see more stringent European regulation of the financial sector after neo-liberal Britain leaves the single market. The government in Rome is already trying to charm London-based billionaires to move to Italy by offering tax exemptions. Others will soon follow suit. This will be an economic race to the bottom, not to the top. 

We will see not only more tax loopholes, precariat, and protectionism, but also bankrupt regions, impoverished hospitals, overcrowded prisons, broken highways, and collapsing bridges. As always, the burden will not be distributed equally, creating further conflicts within and across individual states. Cleaning up the mess will take many years and tears.

I would have sounded more optimistic had Brexit been only about the EU. The EU has performed poorly in recent years and its value is now considerably inflated compared to two decades earlier. However, Brexit is only one of many episodes heralding the rise of a powerful political movement aimed at destroying the narrative, institutions, and order installed after 1989. Under attack is not just European integration but also liberal democracy and free trade, migration and a multicultural society, historical "truths" and political correctness, moderate political parties and mainstream media, and cultural tolerance and religious neutrality. 

In short, at stake is not just the future of the EU, but also the future of liberal open society.

I would have sounded more optimistic had Brexit empowered Europe’s citizens. Supporters of Brexit promised to bring power back from Brussels to Westminster, but since the Brexit referendum they have tried to deprive Westminster of any meaningful say on the outcome of Brexit negotiations. Let’s be honest: European citizens will not get any say on the complex negotiations. The partisan elites will squabble at the bargaining table, and ordinary citizens will have to live with the implications.

I would have sounded more optimistic had Brexit led to self-reflection and self-improvement across the continent. Yet, no one is taking responsibility for the mess that is being created. Politicians on both sides of the English Channel point fingers at each other. In London they blame the EU; in Brussels they blame the perfidious Albion. But as the saying goes: It takes two to tango. 

The UK and the EU will have to coexist next to each other in some way after Brexit, but for now they are only talking past each other. I feel like a child that is being subject to some mysterious legal divorce proceedings between agitated parents, with no voice or attention. What about you?

This article was originally published at ZEIT Online.

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The EU cannot survive if it sticks to business as usual
March 29th, 2017, 10:53 PM

Allowing EU member states to move in different directions and at different speeds is precisely the wrong way to address the differing concerns of Europeans living in different countries - and it seems an odd way to unite them behind a single way forward for the continent.

March for an Different Europe in Rome, March 25, 2017. From DiEm25 facebook page.

As British Prime Minister Theresa May triggers Article 50, rendering Brexit inescapable, Europe is gripped by two paradoxes, both of which pose clear and present threats to the European Union and to Britain.

David Cameron – May's predecessor who lost the Brexit referendum – has reason to be puzzled by the upshot of his defeat. Britain is now leaving the EU because of his request for a "variable geometry" – allowing Britain to opt out of basic EU tenets – which was unceremoniously turned down by Berlin and, less consequentially, by Paris.

Yet, as a direct result of Brexit, Berlin and Paris are now adopting the idea of variable geometry as the way forward for the EU. This first paradox is easier to understand when seen through the lens of the conventional European practice of making a virtue out of failure.

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, had for years opposed the idea of a Europe that proceeds at different speeds – allowing some countries to be less integrated than others, due to their domestic political situation. But now – after the colossal economic mismanagement of the euro crisis has weakened the EU's legitimacy, given Eurosceptics a major impetus, and caused the EU to shift to an advanced stage of disintegration – Mrs Merkel and her fellow EU leaders seem to think that a multi-speed Europe is essential to keeping the bloc together.

At the weekend, as EU leaders gathered to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, leaders of the remaining 27 member states signed the Rome Declaration, which says that they will "act together, at different paces and intensity where necessary, while moving in the same direction, as we have done in the past."

The failure to keep the EU together along a single path toward common values, a common market and a common currency will come to be embraced and rebranded as a new start, leading to a Europe in which a coalition of the willing will proceed with the original ambition while the rest form outer circles, connected to the inner core by unspecified bonds.

In principle, such a manifold EU will allow for the East's self-proclaimed illiberal democracies to remain in the single market, refusing to relocate a single refugee or to adhere to standards of press freedom and judicial independence that other European countries consider essential.

Countries like Austria will be able to put up electrified fences around their borders. It could even leave the door open for the UK to return as part of one of Europe's outer circles. Whether one approves of this vision or not, the fact is that its chances depend on a major prerequisite: a consolidated, stable eurozone. 

One only needs to state this to recognize the second paradox of our post-Brexit reality: In its current state, the eurozone cannot provide the stability that the EU – and Europe more broadly – needs to survive.

The refusal to deal rationally with the bankruptcy of the Greek state is a useful litmus test for the European establishment's capacity to stabilize the eurozone. As it stands, the prospects for a stabilized eurozone do not look good.

Business as usual – the establishment's favored option – could soon produce a major Italian crisis that the eurozone cannot survive. The only alternative under discussion is a eurozone federation-light, with a tiny common budget that Berlin will agree to in exchange for direct control of French, Italian and Spanish national budgets. Even if this were to happen, which is doubtful given the political climate, it will be too little, too late to stabilize the eurozone.

So here is the reality that Europe faces today: a proper federation of 27 member states is impossible, given the centrifugal forces tearing Europe apart. Meanwhile, a variable geometry confederacy – of the type David Cameron had requested and which the UK might want to join after 2019 – requires a consolidated eurozone. But this also seems impossible, given the current climate.

Allowing EU member states to move in different directions and at different speeds is precisely the wrong way to address the differing concerns of Europeans living in different countries – and it seems an odd way to unite them behind a single way forward for the continent.

In fact, Europeans are already united by two existential threats: involuntary under-employment – the bitter fruit of austerity-driven under-investment – and involuntary migration – the result of the overconcentration of investment in specific regions.

To make the European Union work again, each and every European country must be stabilized and helped to prosper. Europe cannot survive as a free-for-all, everyone for themselves, or as an Austerity Union built on de-politicised economic decision-making with a fig leaf of federalism in which some countries are condemned to permanent depression and debtors are denied democratic rights.

Europe, in short, needs a New Deal – perhaps similar to the New Deal that my organization DiEM25 unveiled in Rome at the weekend while the European elites were toasting their variable geometry – that runs across the continent, embracing all countries independently of whether they are in the eurozone, in the European Union or in neither.

This article was originally published at CNN.

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Russia’s latest protests are no child’s play
March 29th, 2017, 10:53 PM

They’ve been dismissed as a “teenage rebellion”, but the protests that shook Russia recently reveal how the country’s youth is slipping through the state’s fingers. Русский

During a protest in Tomsk on 26 March, the fifth-grader Gleb Tokmakov publicly proposed reforms to Russia’s political system. Image still via YouTube. Some rights reserved.Russia's anti-corruption demonstrations on 26 March, which took place in over 80 towns across the country, have already been described as a “teenage protest”. This was the polite option, by the way: some referred to it as the “zit revolution”. Russian officialdom is still maintaining its stunned silence, pretending as if nothing happened last Sunday — or at least, nothing more than the Break in Spring festival, an initiative of the Moscow Mayor’s Office. Meanwhile, the most sophisticated of Russia’s state propagandists have already (and happily) taken up this simplistic image of events. 

For the propagandists, the focus on teenagers is an exceptionally convenient interpretation. It allows them to develop a wealth of possible “correct” interpretations for what happened on Sunday. The image of a crowd of unintelligent, gullible children can solve many problems. From discrediting protest leader Alexei Navalny (a popular Russian tabloid has already compared him to Father Gapon, a leader of the ill-fated Russian revolution of 1905; and he’s been called a paedophile live on state radio station) to distorting the essence of the protests themselves.

Russia’s public officials have reason to be concerned about another “lost generation”. Russia’s schoolchildren really are slipping through the state’s fingers 

“They’re just kids!” so it goes. Just kids who are fed up with the dull monotony of life, and who have no business being interested neither in politics nor corruption. It’s just that no one’s “working” with them — this is why they head out onto the streets and squares, yielding to the call of “provocateurs”. It’s almost a latter-day Pied Piper.

Concerns about “not working properly with children” or the “absence of a proper youth policy” have al been raised anew. This is understandable, there’s an opportunity to carve out budgets for “proper youth policy”. And there’s a wide spectrum of participants in the race for a slice of that hypothetical pie — from pro-Kremlin political scientist Sergey Markov to Kristina Potupchik, former press secretary of the Nashi patriotic youth movement and member of Russia’s Civic Chamber. Indeed, Potupchik exhibits a desperate liberalism, lashing out at radical conservatives like Vitaly Milonov, Yelena Mizulina and online crusaders against “teenage suicide groups”, whom she blames for the fact that young people and teenagers attended protests. All the while, she recalls the good old days of the mid-2000s, when Nashi was at its prime.

“Whether it’s members of Nashi, or those teenagers who walked down [Moscow’s] Tverskaya Street, all these young people stood up for their futures and a comfortable life, lived by clear, understandable rules. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s Navalny or [pro-Kremlin youth leader] Yakemenko who calls them out on the street. Because nobody else is, right? There’s no point criticising them. We need to listen to them and work with them, and not simply sweep the problem under the carpet,” writes Potupchik on The Question. Potupchik thus suggests (simply and without trying to force her opinion) that there was no difference between members of a youth organisation founded by the Kremlin to oppose the “unnatural alliance of liberals and fascists, united by their personal hatred of Vladimir Putin” and whose protests were sponsored by the Russian state budget, and people who took a deliberate risk in publicly protesting corruption at the highest echelons of Russia’s government.

Growing up, rising up

But let’s try to deal with the intricacies of the protests. First, the “teenage rebellion” is a myth. Yes, Sunday’s protesters were on average much younger — that’s especially clear if you compare the events of 26 March to last month’s march in honour of assassinated opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, the last major opposition protest in Moscow. Schoolchildren were also present at the Nemtsov march, but they were by no means in the majority. Of the 1,500 people detained then by the police in Moscow on Sunday, there were only a little over 40 protesters under the age of 18 — approximately four percent of the total. Based on my personal recollections of last weekend’s events, I’d risk guessing that the proportion was roughly the same. The majority of the protesters in Moscow were young people of student age, hardly schoolchildren. Those who witnessed the demonstrations in St Petersburg, Tomsk and other large cities say much the same.

You can’t get away with calling the people who came out on Sunday “easily led”. They understood perfectly well what they were opposing 

This point is important, because it destroys the entire chain of reasoning which has already begun to form around the “new protest generation”. You can’t get away with calling the people who came out on Sunday “easily led”. The slogans they chanted show that the attendees understood perfectly well what they were opposing, and who they’d come up against. “Today Dimon [Medvedev], tomorrow Vova [Putin]!” What more evidence do you need? 

“It doesn’t matter what party you’re for – you’re certainly against thieves!” reads this placard at a protest in Moscow, 26 March. Image still via Radio Svoboda / YouTube. Some rights reserved.Nevertheless, Russia’s public officials have reason to be concerned about another “lost generation”. Russia’s schoolchildren really are slipping through the state’s fingers. The state is trying to monopolise everything. It’s desperate to control people’s thoughts. It imprisons citizens for reposts on social networks, and beats them over the head with television propaganda with no less zeal than a police baton charge. It comes out with absurd bans on activity on the internet. It comes into schools with “lessons on patriotism”, the Ministry of Defence’s Youth Army movement and plans to storm an exact copy of the Reichstag. The last one isn’t a joke. This idea belongs to Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s Minister of Defence. An exact replica of the Reichstag is already under construction.

The state is trying to instill a perfumed image of Russia’s past, to enforce a ban on criticising any figures of authority and it only wants to penetrate childrens’ minds even further. Olga Vasilyeva, the new Minister of Education, has already given several interviews about how the state needs to expand its range of instruments for educating children about patriotism and morality.

This generation has their own celebrities — video-bloggers with a million subscribers, whom even our intellectuals can’t figure out 

But all these measures will miss their target. The television, with its endless propaganda shows, just sails straight past children — they simply don’t watch it. Propaganda works, it’s effective, the president is, in fact, popular, and foreign policy adventures are met with unexplainable adoration, but all of this is for adults only. In the world of, let’s be honest, Soviet people, practices of information consumption have remained at the level of the early 1990s, if not the late 1970s. But the attempt to inculcate Soviet methods of education into Russian everyday life is, all the same, destined to fail. All this officious, jingoistic patriotism, forced on people by the state, together with militarisation of public consciousness can only (and seemingly does) provoke hatred and disgust.

The kids are alright  

The new generation — the generation that’s grown up under Putin — has their own world. They’ve never lived without the internet. They’re reprimanded for never having experienced or seen real problems — the end of perestroika and the early 1990s. This generation’s peers in their 40s rebuke them for this, without even noticing that this is the discourse of the old women who sit outside apartment blocks, ready to see a “prostitute” in every girl who walks past in a short skirt. Sure, this generation didn’t experience the 1990s. But they shouldn’t have to take a terrible past as their landmark, they want a normal future.

This generation has their own celebrities — video-bloggers with a million subscribers, whom even our intellectuals can’t figure out. They have their own groups on VKontakte, the Russian social networking site. They have their own humour, their own language. I don’t want to appear as if I understand this strange world (I’m more at home on Facebook for the semi-retired), I’m just stating a fact. Sometimes adults, who are concerned with patriotic education and saving kids who “stray off track”, try to enter this world, and they do so with all the grace of a bull in a china shop. Recent hysteria over online “suicide groups” is evidence enough of this. But at the same time, by entering this teenage world, adults just make the gap between these respective universes even greater. Clearly, Russia’s adults have gone astray in trying to remake their children’s mysterious world according to their ideas of how it should be. 

A school playground named after Dmitry Medvedev in Vladivostok. Alexey Navalny’s investigation into the wealth amassed by Russia’s prime minister was a major catalyst for the recent protests. Photo CC-by-2.0: cea+ / Flickr. Some rights reserved.Of course, those people who assert that the state has scared the younger generation off with radical conservative initiatives from MPs such as Vitaly Milonov and Elena Mizulina are right. The problem is, however, that Milonov and Mizulina are not from Mars, and nor are they agents of the US State Department, but the very essence of the Russian state — the state itself. And this is a state that, in consciously choosing to step back into the past, has nothing to offer its youth apart from a patriotism limited to loyal applause and militarised youth groups, which are busy preparing “invalids and veterans of future overseas wars”. That said, they don’t all have to serve overseas. 

This is a consciously chosen ideology, and one that all state institutions are diligently working on. The all-too prominent Mizulina and Milonov are just slightly more radical in their public statements than the rest, that’s all. The state’s ideological field is bare but for a picture of Soviet man that’s been painted in the red, white and blue of the Russian tricolour. And this ideology is doubly false, because it’s not the idealists who are asking people to love this country and, if needs be, die for it, but corrupt officials and thieves with their yachts, collections of trainers, palaces and villas. To force children to consume all of this is far from easy, no matter how much money you assign to “proper youth policy”.

This is a state that has nothing to offer its youth apart from a patriotism limited to loyal applause and militarised youth groups 

The biggest surprise, though, is that children aren’t meeting the propagandists’ hopes. It seems they aren’t idiots to be manipulated. Take the now infamous conversation in a rural school in Bryansk between pupils and the principal, the rebellion of 10th graders in Samara region after they refused to give their teachers money for school repairs without a receipt (this is how the fight against corruption really looks), and, of course, those teenagers who came out into the streets on Sunday — they came out against lies and against injustice. Sure, they’re not yet the majority of the protesters. But they’ll come out on the streets again.

One practical thought to finish: Russian intellectuals love to hold surprisingly long debates on matters that aren’t worth debating. One of their time-honoured classics (which can start discussions that last for up to two weeks) is whether it’s right to beat your children. Just so it’s clear, it’s not. And the Russian state, which sent riot police to deal with Moscow teenagers on Sunday without a second thought, will have another opportunity to confirm this principle for itself. Grudges are felt more keenly at that age, and it’s hard to forget them. And they won’t, you’ll see.

 

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Seeing the myth in human rights
March 29th, 2017, 10:53 PM

To call human rights a “myth” would appear to discredit them, but myth was central in drafting the Universal Declaration. Español


Is it possible that human rights are a myth?

To ask this question is likely to be perceived as advocating for a dismissal or even a rejection of human rights. Indeed, when the term “myth” is used in conjunction with human rights, it is almost always done with the intention of discrediting either the idea or the substance of human rights.  

This tendency to associate “myth” with error or duplicity actually prevents us from recognizing some important insights.

As a scholar of religion, however, I have argued that it is misleading to think of myth in this way. In fact, this tendency to associate “myth” with error or duplicity actually prevents us from recognizing some important insights that the category of myth sheds upon the history and the logic of human rights.

The foundational document of contemporary human rights, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, sits uncomfortably within today’s broad corpus of international law. This document was advertised by its creators as emphatically secular even as these creators regularly used religious discourses of sacredness and veneration to describe it.


Flickr/UN Photo/Photo # 329493 (Some rights reserved)

The framers of the Declaration aspired to generate a document capable of rectifying the horrors of World War II by establishing, in the words of Commission chairwomen Eleanor Roosevelt, “why we have rights to begin with.”


The Declaration proposes no mechanisms for the enforcement of its provisions, yet there is much evidence to indicate that it has come to command a significant “moral” authority. Indeed, the first UN Commission on Human Rights actively aspired to imbue it with such an authority. Ultimately, in fact, there is much in the historical record of the creation of this document to indicate that many Commission members were deeply convinced of the Declaration’s capacity to transform the ethical and even the metaphysical landscape of international law.

The phenomenon of myth provides a valuable lens through which to make sense of these various conflicting elements in the Declaration. Far from understanding myth as a mode of erroneous or deceptive discourse, scholars in the field of religious studies understand myth as a form of human labor that serves the function of generating meaning, solidarity, and order within all manner of human communities. Far from being characterized by their inaccuracy or duplicity, myths are characterized within the study of religion by the particular authority they wield and the particular strategies their creators use to imbue them with this authority. In short, instead of offering arguments or strictures, myths are narratives that assert their descriptions of the world, and the moral imperatives stemming from these descriptions, in a way that makes them appear beyond dispute.

Mythmakers accomplish this authoritative assertion of information in a variety of ways—for example, by describing the prescriptions of supernatural beings, by narrating the feats of exemplary figures from earlier times, or by drawing connections between the present and a paradigmatic moment in the past. In all of their variety, such narratives are united in their effort to set language to the task of, in words of Roland Barthes, “lending an historical intention a natural justification, and making the contingent appear eternal.”

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an emphatically secular document, obviously makes no appeal to supernatural realms or superhuman beings. It does, however, narrate its basic tenets in the unequivocal manner characteristic of myth. The framers of the Declaration aspired to generate a document capable of rectifying the horrors of World War II, and they aimed to do so not merely by enumerating certain rights but also by establishing, in the words of Commission chairwomen Eleanor Roosevelt, “why we have rights to begin with.”

To accomplish this, the Commission worked to imbue the Declaration with a logic that would place its basic tenets beyond question. They worked, in other words, to create a secular narrative capable of wielding the authority of a religious one—a narrative that would appear to everyday people, in the words of Soviet delegate Vladimir Kortesky, “as simple and as clear as the Decalogue.”

How does one create a “Decalogue” (i.e., the Ten Commandments) that is sufficiently secularized to command global legitimacy? This problem of how to articulate a set of evocative principles in the absence of shared metaphysical foundations reaches to the heart of the twentieth-century human rights project. Members of the Commission recognized early in their negotiations that a human rights vision geared toward a global audience could not ground its claims within any culturally-specific worldview, lest it appear to be imposing rather than merely reiterating fundamental values. In the face of this conundrum, the Commission simply proclaimed, in the very first words of the Declaration, the inherence of “human dignity”—a proclamation made, as is often the case in myth, without rational argumentation of any sort.

“Inherent human dignity” functions within the Declaration as an axiom located beyond dispute or question. It is a characteristic that, as human right scholar Johannes Morsink puts it, “no person and no political or social body or organ gave us” and that, therefore no person or political/social body is empowered to violate. Such dignity functions in the Declaration not merely as an elementary human characteristic but, in the words of Lebanese delegate Karim Azkoul, as “an absolute and general principle.”

Much more than a basic human trait, inherent dignity serves within the Declaration as a sacred center—an item unequivocally set apart for veneration as both an emblem of human rights and a guarantor of the faithful observance of the Declaration’s prescriptions.

At a seminal moment in the history of international law, universal human rights were created to push deliberately against two longstanding human tendencies: the tendency to tie human rights to one’s membership within a particular political community, and the tendency to hearken to the realm of the divine when building a foundation for political ideals and practices. This twofold endeavor gave rise to a document the likes of which has never been seen: a declaration that predicates its tenets upon a universal, secular human reality that it brings into existence through no other means than by professing to recognize it.

Yet, for all the novelty of this maneuver, the first Commission on Human Rights undertook its work in a way that smacks of the time-honored logic of mythmaking—a logic wherein language is set to the task of unequivocally presenting a vision of the world as well as a set of mandates appropriate to the maintenance of that world. The Declaration’s unique narrative complicates conventional distinctions between “religion” and “secularism”, and, in so doing, sheds new light not only on these often-take-for-granted categories, but on the nature of human rights themselves.

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Call for participants: Syria, Middle East Forum
March 16th, 2017, 10:53 PM

يبحث موقع openDemocracy عن مشاركين لمنتدى الشرق الأوسط  لسوريا.

openDemocracy is looking for participants for the Middle East Forum for Syria.

The Middle East Forum is a project that encourages emerging young voices to express themselves, exchange views and be heard. The project provides participants with a series of workshops to develop writing skills, media presence, and digital security as well as a free discussion space where they have the capacity to debate constructively. Participants in the forum host speakers, acquire skills, share knowledge, and give feedback to one another.

We are currently looking for 7 participants in or from Syria to join the project. If you are interested in participating in this project and developing your journalistic skills read the information below and send in your application.

Participants:

We expect that each participant will have the opportunity to achieve the following benefits:

  • - Career-related experience
  • - Practical and increased practice-based knowledge of journalistic writing, debate, social media
  • - Training which enhances digital security and the handling of human rights issues
  • - Increased knowledge and experience on how to create an online journalistic presence

Participants will be expected to:

  • - Adhere to policies, procedures, and rules governing professional behavior;
  • - maintain a punctual and reliable working relationship, abiding by the scheduled sessions and number of articles agreed to;
  • - communicate regularly with the facilitator, particularly in situations where the participant may need to adjust the terms of the working relationship (e.g., to reschedule a meeting/session);
  • - respect the opinions expressed and confidentiality of the group;
  • - take the initiative to volunteer for tasks or projects that the participant finds interesting.

Requirements

In addition to these general expectations, the participant will also be required to meet the following requirements during the program:

  • - Meet a minimum commitment of 12 sessions;
  • - develop a working relationship with the facilitator, such that he or she can adequately serve as a mentor;
  • - actively engage in debate, with a focus on the topics and how the discussions unfold;
  • - actively take notes during each session, to be shared amongst the group;
  • - actively engage and participate in developing an online space for debate;
  • - actively produce a minimum of one article per month, based on the discussions that take place;
  • - understand how to and actively promote your work;
  • - evaluate and monitor your own success in terms of reach;
  • - upon completion of the program, reflect upon and write about your experience during the program.

Who can apply?

You can apply for the position if you fall under any of the following:

  • Between the age of 21 - 30;
  • Are an aspiring journalist or blogger;
  • Possess knowledge in the specific region of the program;
  • Have an excellent command of Arabic and/or English.

How to apply?

  • - Send in a sample piece of 1000-1500 words in Arabic or English of something that interests you - a conversation that took place that struck a chord, an observation from your surroundings, a cultural event, an interesting initiative, your point of view on the politics of the region or why you would like to take part in this program.
  • - Your resume.

Deadline for applicaiton: April 20th.

منتدى الشرق الأوسط هو مشروع يشجّع الأجيال الصاعدة الشابّة على التعبير عن نفسها وتبادل الآراء وإيصال صوتها. يقدّم المشروع للمشاركين سلسلة من ورش العمل لتطوير مهاراتهم في الكتابة والحضور الإعلامي والأمن الرقمي كما يوفّر المشروع فضاء للمناقشات يمنح المشاركين فرصة التحاور بطريقة بنّاءة. يستضيف المشاركون في المنتدى متحدثين ويكتسبون مهارات ويتشاركون المعلومات ويعبّرون عن رأيهم بعمل زملائهم.

نبحث عن 7 مشتركين من سوريا للانضمام إلى المشروع. إذا كنت مهتماً بالمشاركة في المشروع وبتطوير مهاراتك الصحفية، تابع القراءة وأرسل طلبك.

المشتركون:

سيحظى كلّ مشترك بفرصة اكتساب الأمور التالية: 

-       خبرة مهنية

-       معرفة عملية بالكتابة الصحفية والمناظرات ووسائل التواصل الاجتماعي

-       تدريب يعزّز الإلمام بالأمن الرقمي والتطرّق إلى قضايا حقوق الإنسان

-       إلمام إضافي وخبرة في كيفية تعزيز الحضور الصحفي على الإنترنت

يُتوّقع من المشتركين:

-       احترام السياسات والإجراءات والقواعد الملائمة للسلوك المحترف

-       المحافظة على علاقة عمل دقيقة وموثوقة والالتزام بالجلسات المعيّنة وبعدد المقالات المتفق عليه

-       التواصل بانتظام مع الميسّر، وتحديداً في المواقف التي يحتاج فيها المشترك إلى تعديل شروط علاقة العمل (مثلاً، تغيير موعد الحصة/الاجتماع)

-       احترام السرية والآراء المعبّر عنها ضمن المجموعة

-       أخذ المبادرة للتطوّع لمهمات أو مشاريع يجدها المشترك مثيرة للاهتمام

المتطلّبات:

بالإضافة إلى المتطلبات العامة، يجب أن يلتزم المشترك بالتالي خلال البرنامج:

-       الالتزام بحدّ أدنى من الحصص يساوي 12حصة

-       تطوير علاقة عمل مع الميسّر للعب دور المرشد بشكل صحيح

-       المشاركة بالمناظرات بنشاط والتركيز على المواضيع وكيفية تبلور النقاش

-       تدوين الملاحظات فعلياً خلال كلّ حصة وتشاركها مع المجموعة

-       الانخراط في تطوير فضاء إلكتروني للمناظرات والمشاركة فيه

-       كتابة مقال واحد على الأقلّ في الشهر، استناداً إلى المناقشات التي حصلت

-       فهم كيفية تحسين عملك وتطبيق ذلك

-       تقييم ومراقبة نجاحك استناداً إلى اتساع نطاق تأثيرك

-       التفكير في تجربتك والكتابة عنها لدى إتمام البرنامج

مَن المرشّحون لهذا التدريب؟

يمكنك التقدّم بطلب إذا:

-       كنت بين سنّ 21 و30؛

-       كنت تطمح لتصبح صحفياً أو مدوّناً؛

-       لديك إطّلاع واسع على المنطقة المحددة للبرنامج؛

-       تتكلّم وتكتب العربية و/أو الإنكليزية بطلاقة.

كيف يمكن التقدّم للتدريب؟

أرسِل نصّاً من  1000 – 1500 كلمة باللغة الإنكليزية أو العربية عن موضوع يهمّك، مثلاً حوار أثّر فيك أو مراقبتك لمحيطك أو حدث ثقافي أو مبادرة مثيرة للاهتمام أو وجهة نظرك حول سياسات المنطقة أو سبب اهتمامك بالمشاركة في البرنامج بالاضافة الى سيرتك.

الرجاء إرسال جميع الطلبات والمستندات المرتبطة بها إلى موقع arabawakeningteam@opendemocracy.net والموعد النهائي للتقديم هو 20 أبريل.

Country or region: 
Syria
Rights: 
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Call for participants: Egypt, Middle East Forum
March 12th, 2017, 10:53 PM

يبحث موقع openDemocracy عن مشاركين لمنتدى الشرق الأوسط  في مصر.

openDemocracy is looking for participants for the Middle East Forum for Egypt.

The Middle East Forum is a project that encourages emerging young voices to express themselves, exchange views and be heard. The project provides participants with a series of workshops to develop writing skills, media presence, and digital security as well as a free discussion space where they have the capacity to debate constructively. Participants in the forum host speakers, acquire skills, share knowledge, and give feedback to one another.

We are currently looking for 7 participants in Egypt to join the project. If you are interested in participating in this project and developing your journalistic skills read the information below and send in your application.

Participants:

We expect that each participant will have the opportunity to achieve the following benefits:

  • - Career-related experience
  • - Practical and increased practice-based knowledge of journalistic writing, debate, social media
  • - Training which enhances digital security and the handling of human rights issues
  • - Increased knowledge and experience on how to create an online journalistic presence

Participants will be expected to:

  • - Adhere to policies, procedures, and rules governing professional behavior;
  • - maintain a punctual and reliable working relationship, abiding by the scheduled sessions and number of articles agreed to;
  • - communicate regularly with the facilitator, particularly in situations where the participant may need to adjust the terms of the working relationship (e.g., to reschedule a meeting/session);
  • - respect the opinions expressed and confidentiality of the group;
  • - take the initiative to volunteer for tasks or projects that the participant finds interesting.

Requirements

In addition to these general expectations, the participant will also be required to meet the following requirements during the program:

  • - Meet a minimum commitment of 12 sessions;
  • - develop a working relationship with the facilitator, such that he or she can adequately serve as a mentor;
  • - actively engage in debate, with a focus on the topics and how the discussions unfold;
  • - actively take notes during each session, to be shared amongst the group;
  • - actively engage and participate in developing an online space for debate;
  • - actively produce a minimum of one article per month, based on the discussions that take place;
  • - understand how to and actively promote your work;
  • - evaluate and monitor your own success in terms of reach;
  • - upon completion of the program, reflect upon and write about your experience during the program.

Who can apply?

You can apply for the position if you fall under any of the following:

  • Between the age of 21 - 30;
  • Are an aspiring journalist or blogger;
  • Possess knowledge in the specific region of the program;
  • Have an excellent command of Arabic and/or English.

How to apply?

  • - Send in a sample piece of 1000-1500 words in Arabic or English of something that interests you - a conversation that took place that struck a chord, an observation from your surroundings, a cultural event, an interesting initiative, your point of view on the politics of the region or why you would like to take part in this program.
  • - Your resume.

Deadline for applicaiton: April 20th.

منتدى الشرق الأوسط هو مشروع يشجّع الأجيال الصاعدة الشابّة على التعبير عن نفسها وتبادل الآراء وإيصال صوتها. يقدّم المشروع للمشاركين سلسلة من ورش العمل لتطوير مهاراتهم في الكتابة والحضور الإعلامي والأمن الرقمي كما يوفّر المشروع فضاء للمناقشات يمنح المشاركين فرصة التحاور بطريقة بنّاءة. يستضيف المشاركون في المنتدى متحدثين ويكتسبون مهارات ويتشاركون المعلومات ويعبّرون عن رأيهم بعمل زملائهم.

نبحث عن 7 مشتركين في مصر للانضمام إلى المشروع. إذا كنت مهتماً بالمشاركة في المشروع وبتطوير مهاراتك الصحفية، تابع القراءة وأرسل طلبك.

المشتركون:

سيحظى كلّ مشترك بفرصة اكتساب الأمور التالية: 

-       خبرة مهنية

-       معرفة عملية بالكتابة الصحفية والمناظرات ووسائل التواصل الاجتماعي

-       تدريب يعزّز الإلمام بالأمن الرقمي والتطرّق إلى قضايا حقوق الإنسان

-       إلمام إضافي وخبرة في كيفية تعزيز الحضور الصحفي على الإنترنت

يُتوّقع من المشتركين:

-       احترام السياسات والإجراءات والقواعد الملائمة للسلوك المحترف

-       المحافظة على علاقة عمل دقيقة وموثوقة والالتزام بالجلسات المعيّنة وبعدد المقالات المتفق عليه

-       التواصل بانتظام مع الميسّر، وتحديداً في المواقف التي يحتاج فيها المشترك إلى تعديل شروط علاقة العمل (مثلاً، تغيير موعد الحصة/الاجتماع)

-       احترام السرية والآراء المعبّر عنها ضمن المجموعة

-       أخذ المبادرة للتطوّع لمهمات أو مشاريع يجدها المشترك مثيرة للاهتمام

المتطلّبات:

بالإضافة إلى المتطلبات العامة، يجب أن يلتزم المشترك بالتالي خلال البرنامج:

-       الالتزام بحدّ أدنى من الحصص يساوي 12حصة

-       تطوير علاقة عمل مع الميسّر للعب دور المرشد بشكل صحيح

-       المشاركة بالمناظرات بنشاط والتركيز على المواضيع وكيفية تبلور النقاش

-       تدوين الملاحظات فعلياً خلال كلّ حصة وتشاركها مع المجموعة

-       الانخراط في تطوير فضاء إلكتروني للمناظرات والمشاركة فيه

-       كتابة مقال واحد على الأقلّ في الشهر، استناداً إلى المناقشات التي حصلت

-       فهم كيفية تحسين عملك وتطبيق ذلك

-       تقييم ومراقبة نجاحك استناداً إلى اتساع نطاق تأثيرك

-       التفكير في تجربتك والكتابة عنها لدى إتمام البرنامج

مَن المرشّحون لهذا التدريب؟

يمكنك التقدّم بطلب إذا:

-       كنت بين سنّ 21 و30؛

-       كنت تطمح لتصبح صحفياً أو مدوّناً؛

-       لديك إطّلاع واسع على المنطقة المحددة للبرنامج؛

-       تتكلّم وتكتب العربية و/أو الإنكليزية بطلاقة.

كيف يمكن التقدّم للتدريب؟

أرسِل نصّاً من  1000 – 1500 كلمة باللغة الإنكليزية أو العربية عن موضوع يهمّك، مثلاً حوار أثّر فيك أو مراقبتك لمحيطك أو حدث ثقافي أو مبادرة مثيرة للاهتمام أو وجهة نظرك حول سياسات المنطقة أو سبب اهتمامك بالمشاركة في البرنامج بالاضافة الى سيرتك.

الرجاء إرسال جميع الطلبات والمستندات المرتبطة بها إلى موقع arabawakeningteam@opendemocracy.net والموعد النهائي للتقديم هو  20 أبريل.

Country or region: 
Egypt
Rights: 
CC by NC 4.0
Call for applications: Middle East Forum Program Expansion Consultant
February 21st, 2017, 10:53 PM

openDemocracy is looking for a Program Expansion Consultant to advise and support the expansion of the Middle East Forum project.

The Middle East Forum is a project that encourages emerging young voices to express themselves, exchange views and be heard. The project provides participants with a series of workshops to develop writing skills, media presence, and digital security as well as a free discussion space where they have the capacity to debate constructively. Participants in the forum host speakers, acquire skills, share knowledge, and give feedback to one another.

The Program Expansion Consultant will be tasked with providing guidance and advice on how to expand the project, both in terms of seeking funding to cover more countries in the future, but also in playing an oversight role of the project to ensure its success. This would involve helping openDemocracy with outreach to new partners, offering feedback on the programme and content, and providing ideas and contacts to help make it a success in each of the countries it is implemented in.

This is a freelance position initially for a 10-day contract, with the possibility of more work for the wider Arab Awakening project.

The ideal candidate would be someone who has:

* Experience in working as a journalist and/or editor in the region


* Experience in cross-regional projects in the Middle East and North Africa


* A wide network of contacts within civil society, media and funders in the region


* Experience in running large projects and ability to advise on expansion of the MEF project


* Fundraising experience


If you are interested in applying please send your CV and a brief letter of motivation to arabawakeningteam@opendemocracy.net by the 15th of April 2017.

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