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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