The Internet has provided enormous opportunities for the exercise of the rights to freedom expression, association, and peaceful assembly. As global civic space has shrunk, the online sphere has proven essential for human rights defenders, media, and civil society more broadly, to access and share information and to hold the powerful to account.
The Internet has also brought new challenges. The proliferation of ‘hate speech’ and harassment targeting marginalised groups and human rights defenders, disinformation intended to undermine public debate and trust, incitement to terrorist acts, are among those with significant and negative human rights impacts.
Increasingly, States are engaging in regulation that threatens to restrict online civic space, often delegating the complex task of policing speech to private actors, without also delegating clear responsibilities to respect human rights.
While moves toward regulation are often rooted in genuine concern for the public interest, many States deploy similar arguments as a smokescreen for their efforts to consolidate power, control public discourse, and silence oppositional voices, under the auspices of protecting “national sovereignty” or “security”.
Unchecked surveillance, criminalization of online expression and “cybercrime” prosecutions, data localisation regulations, attacks on encryption, increased website blocking and filtering, and internet shutdowns, are all on the rise, alongside less sophisticated but severe forms of harassment and intimidation. Private actors are often coopted into or actively profit from these human rights abuses, through arrangements that are opaque and outside of applicable legal frameworks.
These trends pose significant challenges to the Human Rights Council’s often-repeated maxim that “the same human rights people have offline must also be protected online.”
Join us to discuss what role the Human Rights Council can and should play in bolstering support for normative progress and action in defending our online civic space.
Our Research Fellow Dr Domenico Zipoli just defended with success his PhD thesis The Power of Engagement: Assessing the Effectiveness of Cooperation between UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies and National Human Rights Institutions.
During an online expert meeting hosted by the Geneva Human Rights Platform, more than 20 UN Special Rapporteurs and members of UN working groups, as well as OHCHR staff, civil society representatives and lawyers explored how the impact of UN Special Procedures’ visits, recommendations and inquiries can be effectively measured and evaluated.
From its adoption to its content and implementation, this training course provides a comprehensive overview of the United Nations Declaration on the rights of peasants, as well as tools to protect and promote the rights of peasants, rural women, fisher, pastoralist and nomadic communities, as well as agricultural workers.
Francisco Proner / Farpa/ CIDH
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, aims at presenting the institutions and procedures in charge of the implementation of international human rights law.
NYU Stern BH
This project aims at supporting the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights' project for the 10th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
This research project, aims via the drafting of a practitioners’ guide on human rights and countering corruption, to clarify the conceptual relationship between human rights, good governance and anticorruption, demonstrate the negative impact of corruption on human rights and provide guidance and make practical recommendations for effectively using the UN human rights system in anti-corruption efforts.