Call for Proposals

Decolonization and Development for Africa and People of African Descent

University of Dayton Dayton, Ohio November 2-4, 2023

The 2023 Joint conference of The Social Practice of Human Rights Conference and the 6th International Conference on the Right to Development


  • University of Dayton Human Rights Center
  • Centre for Human Rights of the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria
  • University of the Free State Centre for Human Rights, South Africa


About the conference

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), we reflect on the growing discourse on decolonization and development in relation to the social practice of human rights, which centers the approaches of diverse communities, including activism, organizing, communications, artistic expressions, and reflective conversations. The focus for this conference is on Africa and individuals of African descent, and our work is firmly grounded in various frameworks such as the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development (1986) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Banjul Charter).

Today, the right to development is stymied by persistent growing inequality, poverty, conflict, unemployment, and the marginalization of women and girls. Africa’s place in the international political economy is inextricably linked to and confounded by its former colonizers and current neocolonial actors. Moreover, communities of African descent across the globe live in structural discrimination, scarred by poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization, social exclusion, and economic disparities. As the International Decade for People of African Descent draws to a close in 2024 and the Permanent Forum launches its work, transnational movements for racial justice have new platforms through which to bring the social practice of human rights to bear.

At this moment, we see the potential to disrupt the entrenched cycle generated by colonial and neocolonial dynamics by drawing on epistemologies of the Global South, particularly of Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia, in order to envision a new future of changing political, economic, feminist, and cultural engagement around Africa and people of African descent. Thus, we welcome submissions that offer new insights, tools, mutual learning, and transformational advocacy to shift the paradigm from the developmental and Pan-African approaches and to reframe, reenergize, and restructure connections and theorizations of rights and justice for Africa and individuals of African descent.

We welcome contributions that focus on the following sub-themes or any related topic:

  • Inclusive development — redistributive models; business and human rights; rights-based economies and financial institutions; global supply chains; inequalities; and Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Social transformation, movements, and resistance — new forms of civic and cultural engagement, education, and pedagogy; the intersection of theater, art and activism; music, performance, and visual culture; new technologies; resistance to anti-rights movements; and democratic fragility.
  • Climate change and sustainability — climate and environmental justice; ecological disaster; natural resources exploitation; building sustainable futures; corporate interests; and fiscal and economic dimensions.
  • Belonging in Africa and for People of African Descent — migration; evolving feminist methods and the decolonization of norms; human rights in cities and localities; youth; intersectionality; identities; equity; racial and social justice; and reparations.

We especially encourage workshops, roundtables, and panels that bridge coalition thinking by placing scholars, policy designers, practitioners, artists, and activists in a space of engagement.

The Conference is planned as a hybrid event experience. In-person and some virtual participation is envisioned.

Submit a proposal, roundtable, or workshop

Submissions are due by May 8, 2023, at

Submissions must contain:

  • A title of the paper, roundtable, or workshop
  • An abstract or concept of 300 or fewer words
  • A biographical statement (no more than 200 words) for each author or contributor, including name, title, and institution/organization affiliation.

The selection committee will prioritize collaborative submissions by practitioners and academics that bridge the gap between scholarly analysis and practical implementation, aiming to advance new research methods, tools, and strategies applicable in real-world contexts.

Submitters will be notified of the status of their submissions by June 2, 2023. Presenters must submit the full text of their papers (e.g., academic paper, report, manuscript, white paper, concept note) to the Human Rights Center via email to by Sept. 29, 2023. Contributions will be considered for an edited volume or special issue to be published in an accredited and peer-reviewed journal in 2024.