Human Rights & NET – New & Emerging Digital Technologies

The first two decades of the twenty-first century have seen a simultaneous proliferation of new technological threats to and opportunities for international human rights. New advances – not only the Internet, social media, and artificial intelligence but also novel techniques for controlling reproduction or dealing with climate change – make clear that scientific and technological innovations bring both risks and benefits to human rights.

Efforts to protect and promote human rights have to take seriously the ways in which these technologies, and the forms of knowledge creation, production, and dissemination they enable, can create harms and be exploited to violate rights.

At the same time, human rights practitioners must continue to seek creative ways to make use of new technologies to improve the human condition.

This dichotomy is the central tension that animates both this volume and the emerging field of human rights technology.

gva4HR is following closely how new and emerging technologies have impact on human rights promotion, protection and implementation around the world. Potential violations of human rights through the use of new technologies need to be addressed and mitigated:

  • loss of privacy and the need to protect personal data,
  • cybersecurity and integrity,
  • radicalization, segregation and discrimination,
  • mass surveillance and overreaching Internet regulation,
  • cyberviolence,…

Our organisation is engaging with all stakeholders to ensure and contribute progress by and at the United Nations and among the international community. We support the adoption and implementation of best practices at the local, national and regional levels. We also see the crucial role of CSOs and NGOs in making sure that a human rights based to digital and numeric matters shall apply.

We also contribute to identify the gaps in the UN and HR framework to propose changes and adapt the current standards to the evolution of modern tools and applications.

gva4HRalso contribute to offer a comprehensive and authoritative overview of the human rights implications of new and emerging technologies in the fields of life sciences and information and communication technologies (ICT).


UN Background

At its forty-first session in June 2019, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 41/11, in which it requested the Advisory Committee to prepare a report, on the possible impacts, opportunities and challenges of new and emerging digital technologies with regard to the promotion and protection of human rights, including mapping of relevant existing initiatives by the United Nations and recommendations on how human rights opportunities, challenges and gaps arising from new and emerging digital technologies could be addressed by the Council and its special procedures and subsidiary bodies in a holistic, inclusive and pragmatic manner, and to present the report to the Council at its forty-seventh session (June 2021).

The Human Rights Council also decided to convene a panel discussion at its forty-fourth session (June 2020) on the impacts, opportunities and challenges of new and emerging digital technologies with regard to the promotion and protection of human rights. Furthermore, it requested the Advisory Committee to present an oral update on its preparation of the above-mentioned report during the panel discussion.

The Advisory Committee established a drafting group at its twenty-third session, held from 22 to 26 July 2019. Changrok Soh, former member of the Advisory Committee, was the Rapporteur leading the drafting of the report until his term ended on 30 September 2020.

The final report of the Advisory Committee was submitted to the forty-seventh session (June 2021) of the Human Rights Council, see Possible impacts, opportunities and challenges of new and emerging digital technologies with regard to the promotion and protection of human rights (2021) – A/HRC/47/52.

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