Human Rights in the Digital Age

Completed in June 2020

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 examined the impact of innovation and the development of new information technologies on human rights. The research also assessed 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.

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.

OUTPUT

Support to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association

The project's 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).

This support notably included the organization of a multi-stakeholder consultation in Nairobi and a mission to consult with tech companies in Silicon Valley.

Both activities fed into the report of the Special Rapporteur, which focused on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the digital age — and outlined how new and emerging technologies playing a progressively decisive role in influencing civic engagement.

A Serie of Conferences and Public Events

The project's team organized a series of conferences and public events on the issue of human rights and digital technologies, bringing together various stakeholders — human rights experts and practitioners, academics, IT people and diplomats — to discuss existing lacunae in the international human rights framework in regulating the implementation of rapidly evolving digital technologies and outline possible solutions.

Publications

Cover of the publication

Human Rights and the Governance of Artificial Intelligence

March 2020

Ana Beduschi

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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NEWS AND EVENTS

Photo of an art installation: The installation is made up of robots with eyes. When a user begins to interact with their smartphone, one of the robot eyes opens and begins looking around the room. When the interaction is over, the eye closes again. News

New Models of Governance Must Address the Human Rights Challenges Raised by Artificial Intelligence

March 2020

Our New Research Brief Human Rights and the Governance of Artificial Intelligence discusses the opportunities and risks that AI represents for human rights, recalls that international human rights law should occupy a central place in the governance of AI and outlines two additional avenues to regulation: public procurement and standardization.

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Portrait of Jonathan Andrew News

Meet our Researchers: Jonathan Andrew

February 2020

Dr Jonathan Andrew is a Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy, where he conducts research on the impact of emerging digital technologies, such as the development of social media channels, on the promotion and protection of human rights.

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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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#ESCR AND #SDGs: Practical Manual on the Role of UN Human Rights Mechanisms in Monitoring the SDGs that Seek to Realize Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

published on July 2020

Christophe Golay

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