Human Rights in the Digital Age

Started in September 2017

Background

New and emerging digital technologies continue to cause or contribute toward significant change in the transformation of society, and can, therefore, constitute powerful tools in their capacity to make significant positive contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights. At the same time, these rapid developments also raise serious questions as to the potential risks posed by negative impacts on human rights, and how appropriate responses to the challenges can be undertaken.

This research project examines and appraises the impact of innovation and the development of new information technologies on human rights. In particular, the analysis probes how this rapid transformation is impacting democracy and our different communities’ enjoyment of fundamental rights. The transformation is proving especially important for both marginalized and vulnerable populations, who have frequently been excluded from the discourse, but for whom the reach and scale of the Internet can now afford greater efficiencies and impact.

The research also assesses the extent to which the existing legal framework at the international level can continue to ensure the appropriate level of regulation, particularly in the face of ever-changing innovation.

2019 Focus

The research team has been providing assistance to the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clément Voule, with his work in preparing his thematic report to the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC).

The report, to be presented to the HRC on June 25th, focuses on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the digital age — and outlines how new and emerging technologies playing a progressively decisive role in influencing civic engagement.

Further Research on Online Platforms

Given the scale and impact of the changes taking place and the challenges they present to the promotion and protection of human rights, the project also envisages conducting further analysis into the transformation of online platforms (such as social media networks, payment and trading applications) across jurisdictions that act as conduits for an increasingly diverse array of peer-to-peer interactions.

The research will notably address the implications for both regulatory and rights-based frameworks in global governance; the concerns relating to discrimination and bias in intermediaries influencing group formation; content moderation, and the provision of financial services impacting social welfare.

RESEARCHERS

Portrait of Jonathan Andrew

Jonathan Andrew

Research Fellow

Dr Jonathan Andrew works as Research Fellow in the Geneva Human Rights Platform where he conducts research on the intersection of information technology with human rights law.

OUTPUT

2019 Outputs

Panel Discussion on Digital Technologies and Human Rights

This panel discussion, co-organized with the Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the permanent missions of Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Morocco, the Republic of Korea and the Republic of Singapore addressed the human rights challenges arising from new and emerging digital technologies, while realizing their possible contribution to the full enjoyment of human rights.

Side Event at the UN Human Rights Council

Organized in collaboration with the Diplo Foundation, this side event aimed at engaging stakeholders and at assisting development of solutions to existing lacunae in the international human rights framework in regulating the implementation of rapidly evolving digital technologies.

NEWS AND EVENTS

News

Productive Discussions for the Panel Event on ‘Human Rights and Digital Technologies: New Insights’

July 2019

This expert panel discussed nascent challenges in the sphere of evolving digital technologies and their impact on human rights.

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Participants in the workshop News

A Workshop in Nairobi on the Digital Space and the Protection of Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly in Africa

February 2019

Our Research Fellow Dr Jonathan Andrew represented the Geneva Academy at a two-day workshop on digital space and the protection of freedom of association and peaceful assembly in Africa.

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News

A Successful Consultation on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association in the Digital Space

October 2018

In the framework of the Geneva Human Rights Platform, the Geneva Academy co-hosted with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights a consultation between the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clément Voule, and delegates from civil society organizations and NGOs.

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Conference room full of delegates for the presentation in Nw York of the Guidelines on Investigating violations of IHL News

Launch in New York: Guidelines on Investigating Violations of IHL

October 2019

In an event co-organized with the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN in New York, two of the authors – Noam Lubell and Jelena Pejic – presented the 16 guidelines before a full room of delegates from the UN General Assembly First and Sixth Commissions, UN agencies, and experts.

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Student taking notes News

Twenty Pages to Address Topical IHL and Human Rights Issues

September 2019

Students of our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights spent most of their summer working on their LLM papers: around 20 pages to discuss a specific issue in international humanitarian law and human rights in armed conflict.

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A forest Event

Is it Time for Universal Recognition of the Right to a Safe, Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment?

February 2020, 09:15-13:00

To kick-start discussions at the UN about the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, this expert seminar will consider the growing recognition of this right and will answer the question: is it time for universal recognition at UN-level?

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Photos taken from the Norse Attack Map.     The map shows in realtime attacks that happen on the Norse honeypots. Event

ESIL Lecture: Disruptive Military Technologies

February 2020, 14:00-16:00

Robin Geiß, Swiss Chair of IHL at the Geneva Academy, will explore the disruptive potential of new military technologies with a focus on those areas where these technologies could fall through the cracks of the international legal order.

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Afghanistan, Parwan detention facility. Inside a room where detainees of the prison, separated by an acrylic glass, are allowed to meet with their families a couple of times per year with the help of the ICRC employees who facilitate the programme. Short Course

Preventing and Combating Terrorism

27 February - March 2020

This short course discusses the extent to which states may  limit and/or derogate from their international human rights obligations in order to prevent and counter terrorism and thus protect persons under their jurisdiction.

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Small irrigation system with polluted water in N’Zerekore, Guinea Training

The Protection of Human Rights and the Environment

29 June - July 2020

This training course provides participants with a deep understanding of the international legal framework for the protection of human rights and the environment as well as in-depth knowledge of how to promote environmental protection through existing human rights mechanisms. The 2020 edition will have a specific focus on water pollution and scarcity.

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Séléka rebels patrol in the town of Bria, Central African Republic (CAR). Project

Human Rights Responsibilities and Armed Non-State Actors

Started in June 2018

This research aims at building a common understanding and vision as to how states and the relevant parts of the UN system can provide a concrete and practical framework to address human rights responsibilities of armed non-state actors.

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Session of the UN Human Rights Committee Project

Treaty Body Review 2020

Started in January 2018

The Geneva Human Rights Platform contributes to this review process by providing expert input via different avenues, by facilitating dialogue on the review among various stakeholders, as well as by accompanying the development of a follow-up resolution to 68/268 in New York and in Geneva.

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Cover of the publication Publication

From Words to Deeds: A Study of Armed Non-State Actors’ Practice and Interpretations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Norms

published on December 2019

Annyssa Bellal, Pascal Bongard, Ezequiel Heffes

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Cover page of the Research Brief Publication

The Universal Periodic Review Mid-Term Reporting Process: Lessons for the Treaty Bodies

published on November 2019

Miloon Kothari

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