Bridging Governance Gaps in the Age of Technology: A Discussion on the State Duty to Protect

11 MARCH 2021

11 March 2021

States and other stakeholders have increasingly recognized the need to adopt more effective regulatory and policy responses to the growing risks posed by digital technologies. A variety of States are currently considering regulatory and policy measures to better frame the development and uses of technologies such as artificial intelligence at the national and multilateral level.

An online expert consultation co-organized by the Geneva Academy and the United Nations (UN) Human Rights’ B-Tech Project – which aims to advance the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights (UNGPs) in the technology space – discussed regulatory and policy responses to human rights challenges linked to digital technologies.

The UNGPs and the Governance of New Technologies

The UNGPs provide a framework for States to address the governance of new technologies and their impact on human rights. The 30 experts – from government, national human rights institution, business, academia, civil society and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) – discussed the key features of the UNGPS’ State duty to protect pillar and provided comments on a draft foundational paper for B-Tech Project Focus Area 4 that set the frame for the consultation.

The consultation covered all aspects of this pillar, including:

  • States implementing a ‘smart mix of policy and regulatory measures, both nationally and where relevant, via international approaches.
  • Potential opportunities created by trends towards mandatory human rights due diligence, which would apply to a large number of technology companies.
  • Situations where States contract with, partner with, license from or support technology companies (‘State-Business Nexus’).
  • How to increase State capacity and internal policy coherence to address the complexity, scale and fast-evolving nature of the technology industry.

The soon-to-be-published foundational paper serves as a conversation starter on the State duty to protect human rights in the technology space, and policy and legislative incentives to require business to respect human rights.

Passenger scrolling on a phone

Placing Human Rights at the Centre of Policy and Regulation

 ‘Human rights and international human rights law must be at the centre of regulatory frameworks developed to accompany the development of digital technologies. We will continue to collaborate with OHCHR and its B-Tech Project to conduct much-needed research to identify ways of placing international human rights law at the centre of policy and regulation’ explains Dr Ana Beduschi, Associate Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

GHRP Bologna Meeting News

Expert Roundtable Discusses Role of Local and Regional Governments in data collection for National Mechanisms

29 April 2024

The Geneva Human Rights Platform co-hosted an expert roundtable on 'Data Planning and Collection by National Mechanisms for Implementation, Reporting, and Follow-up', in Bologna, Italy.

Read more

A session during the follow-up review News

Report Highlights the Potentials of UN Treaty Bodies Follow-Up Review at Regional Level

5 February 2024

Our Geneva Human Rights Platform just released the latest report of its third and final follow-up review pilot conducted in Nadi, Fiji, in collaboration with the Pacific Community and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Read more

View of a session of the UN Human Rights Committee Training

The International Human Rights Standards and System: Monitoring and Implementation Strategies at the National Level

8-12 July 2024

This training course will delve into the means and mechanisms through which national actors can best coordinate their human rights monitoring and implementation efforts, enabling them to strategically navigate the UN human rights system and use the various mechanisms available in their day-to-day work.

Read more

Open dump Training

Protecting Human Rights and the Environment

2-20 September 2024

Participants in this training course, made of two modules, will examine the major international and regional instruments for the promotion of human rights and the environment, familiarizing themselves with the respective implementation and enforcement mechanisms.

Read more

Project

Follow-up Review Pilot Series

Started in November 2021

Read more

Neutrotechology Project

Neurotechnology and Human Rights

Started in August 2023

This project addresses the human rights implications stemming from the development of neurotechnology for commercial, non-therapeutic ends, and is based on a partnership between the Geneva Academy, the Geneva University Neurocentre and the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee. 

Read more

Cover Page of Research Brief Publication

Between Science-Fact and Science-Fiction Innovation and Ethics in Neurotechnology

published on May 2024

Milena Costas, Timo Istace

Read more