ON/OFF: IMPLICATIONS OF DIGITAL CONNECTIVITY ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Digitalization impacts the realization and enjoyment of human rights. It offers new ways of protection and creates new openings for violations. The mere slogan that what applies offline also applies online is surely not sufficient anymore, if it ever has been.
Over the last three years, the Annual Conferences of the Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) have been looking at connectivity between human rights actors. This year’s conference will focus on digital connectivity in the field of human rights. This includes a view of the digital connections by and among mechanisms within the human rights system, but also the substantive impacts of digitalization.
How has international human rights law evolved in this area? And what will be the role of the Geneva-based international human rights system to ensure the continuum of protection in a world where for some the dichotomy online-offline is blurring ever more, while others entirely lack access to the benefits of digitalization and any kind of online connectivity?
The conference will focus on those questions in two panels, looking at the implications of being ON and OFF the grid. Going beyond other thematic debates on those issues, we will explore in particular what contributions can be expected from the United Nations (UN) Human Rights mechanisms. How can UN treaty bodies (TBs) expand the interpretation of treaties and conventions, drafted decades ago, into the new reality of connectivity? How can the mechanisms of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), its Special Procedures, the Advisory Committee or the Council member States via resolutions and the Universal Periodic Review work toward a more comprehensive substantive evaluation and definition of digitalization’s impact, beyond the specific approaches taken so far in some high-visibility areas such as the rights to privacy or to freedom of expression?
The public part of the conference in the afternoon will be preceded by an expert round-table bringing together for the first time representatives of all recently established digital tracking tools for the implementation of international human rights obligations and the recommendations stemming from the international accountability bodies – TBs, HRC Special Procedures and the Universal Periodic Review.
Maison de la Paix Geneve