Human Rights in a Digitalized World: Mapping Risk, Strengthening Regulation and Promoting the Development of International Human Rights Law

Started in August 2023

Context

Advancements in digital technology have created both opportunities and risks for the promotion, expansion and application of human rights. Among the most topical challenges is the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), and the possibility that such technologies will grow and disperse without taking into potential account human rights externalities – and in the absence of a robust regulatory framework.

These challenges are beginning to be discussed at the multilateral level. At the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC), AI has been examined in terms of its impacts on persons with disabilities, privacy, and racial discrimination. Most recently, in late 2022, the HRC adopted resolutions A/HRC/51/L.3 and A/HRC/51/L.25, requesting its Advisory Committee to prepare separate studies examining the human rights implications of neurotechnology and emerging military technologies.

An issue yet to be addressed, but of increasing concern, is how AI coupled with internet reliance has created an opportunity for individuals, non-state groups, states use web-based platforms to push content to produce outcomes that violate human rights (e.g. incitement of discrimination-driven violence).

The coming years represent a critical period for unpacking and understanding these digital technologies through a human rights lens, and ensuring that regulatory standards and accountability keep pace with threats.

Objective

To unpack these challenges, this 3-year project will target three emerging and under-researched areas (i) digital military technologies, (ii) content pushing for ends incompatible with human rights and (iii) neurotechnology.

This project aims at empowering key stakeholders with a common understanding of the principal risks with a view to strengthening the international human rights framework and crafting effective regulation.

Working in cooperation with the HRC Advisory Council and UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, the project will culminate in the development of guidelines on the development and use of these new technologies in conformity with human rights. Dissemination will separately target the technology and corporate sectors with a view to these communities of practice incorporating human rights perspectives into their innovation practices, product development and internal regulatory frameworks.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

Dr Erica Harper at the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee News

Our Expert Inputs UN Discussion on the Regulation of Emerging Military Technologies

11 August 2023

Dr Harper shed light on military technologies’ potential impact on human rights and addressed the risks associated with the cross-application of these technologies and the related need for regulation.

Read more >

RESEARCHERS

Portrait of Jonathan Andrew

Jonathan Andrew

Research Fellow

Dr Andrew conducts research on the nexus of human rights law with the development of neurotechnologies, emerging issues stemming from new technologies’ use in the military domain, and the deployment of dual-use technologies by law enforcement.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

A meeting of the Treaty Body Members Platform News

The Treaty Body Members Platform in 2023

18 January 2024

In 2023, the Treaty Body Members Platform continued to accompany members of UN treaty bodies to address crucial issues related to their work, along with contemporary human rights challenges.

Read more

A GHRP training course News

Geneva Human Rights Platform’s Training Hub: Expanding Offerings and Partnerships for 2024

16 February 2024

2023 has been a busy and fruitful year for our Geneva Human Rights Platform’s Training Hub which starts 2024 with an enhanced offer.

Read more

Garment workersto receive food from their factory during lunch time. This food is freely provided by their factory in order to ensure that workers eat healthy and hygienic food. Training

Business and Human Rights

2-6 September 2024

This training course will examine how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights have been utilized to advance the concept of business respect for human rights throughout the UN system, the impact of the Guiding Principles on other international organizations, as well as the impact of standards and guidance developed by these different bodies.

Read more

A general view of participants during of the 33nd ordinary session of the Human Rights Council. Training

The Universal Periodic Review and the UN Human Rights System: Raising the Bar on Accountability

11-15 November 2024

This training course will explore the origin and evolution of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and its functioning in Geneva and will focus on the nature of implementation of the UPR recommendations at the national level.

Read more

Project

Follow-up Review Pilot Series

Started in November 2021

Read more

Online folders Project

Digital Human Rights Tracking Tools and Databases

Started in March 2023

This initiative wishes to contribute to better and more coordinated implementation, reporting and follow-up of international human rights recommendations through a global study on digital human rights tracking tools and databases.

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