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.

These implications include direct externalities (violation of the rights to privacy, property, freedom from discrimination etc.) and indirect externalities (spillovers for social cohesion, equality and inter-group tolerance). As corporate actors become the main producers and disseminators of neurotechnology, managing these risks will require enhanced multilateral cooperation towards the development of a common regulatory framework. A key challenge in this regard is the complex nature of neurotechnology coupled with the traditional ‘siloing’ between human rights, neuroscience and corporate communities of practice.


To overcome these barriers, this project – supported by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) – is based on a partnership between the Geneva Academy, the Geneva University Neurocentre and the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) Advisory Committee.

It 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.

In terms of methodology, the project will work with a pluri-disciplinary group of ethicists, technologists, human rights practitioners, conflict specialists and social economists to provide technical guidance, brainstorm solutions and validate the work of the core research team.

The findings will directly feed into (i) the report to the HRC at its 59th session and (ii) the development of soft law guidelines on the development and use of neurotechnology in conformity with human rights.

Dissemination and sensitization will separately target states, academia and the technology and corporate sectors with a view to these groups incorporating human rights perspectives into their innovation practices, product development and internal regulatory frameworks.


A person with a portable brain scanner News

New Paper Sets the Scene for Neurotechnology Regulation and the Role of Human Rights

4 December 2023

Our new Research Brief The Evolving Neurotechnology Landscape: Examining the Role and Importance of Human Rights in Regulation provides a comprehensive background analysis on the complexities of regulating neurotechnology and the role of human rights in this process and marks the inception of our research project on neurotechnology and human rights.

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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.

Milena Costas

Milena Costas

Research Fellow

Milena Costas is a human rights expert and law-practitioner and a member of the UN Human Rights Council’s Advisory Committee.

Portrait of Timo Istache

Timo Istace

Associate Researcher

His areas of expertise encompass human rights law, medical law, philosophy of law, and bioethics.


Cover page of the Research Brief

The Evolving Neurotechnology Landscape: Examining the Role and Importance of Human Rights in Regulation

December 2023

Erica Harper

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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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.

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Yemen,  Taiz, Salah district. A destroyed building. News

Mastering International Law in Armed Conflict: Explore our Online Short Courses

8 September 2023

For the 2023–2024 academic year, we offer 16 online short courses covering legal issues and topics relevant to armed conflicts.

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Ukraine, damaged bicycle and car in front of a destroyed building Short Course

The Law of International Armed Conflicts – Hague Law

18 January - 2 February 2024

After having followed this online short course, participants will know who the protected persons and goods are and what rules of IHL can be used for their protection in an international armed conflict. An overview of the rules applicable in non-international armed conflicts will also be given.

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Syria,  Aleppo, great Umayyad mosque. Destructions. Short Course

The Interplay between International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

29 February - 15 March 2024

This online short course focuses on the specific issues that arise in times of armed conflict regarding the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights. It addresses key issues like the applicability of human rights in times of armed conflict; the possibilities of restricting human rights under systems of limitations and derogations; and the extraterritorial application of human rights law.

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A destroyed camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Khor Abeche, South Darfur, Project

Understanding the Relationship between Conflict, Security and the Human Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment

Started in May 2023

This project will develop guidance to inform security, human rights and environmental debates on the linkages between environmental rights and conflict, and how their better management can serve as a tool in conflict prevention, resilience and early warning.

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View of a session of the UN Human Rights Council Project

Human Rights Conversations

Started in January 2020

A series of events aimed at discussing contemporary issues and challenges related to the promotion and protection of human rights in Geneva and beyond.

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Cover page of the Research Brief Publication

The Evolving Neurotechnology Landscape: Examining the Role and Importance of Human Rights in Regulation

published on December 2023

Erica Harper

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