What are the world’s human rights priorities in 2021, and priorities to look out for in 2022?

by Courtney Halverson, URG NYC and the URG team Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog

Human rights analysis of high-level speeches during the general debate of the UN General Assembly In the pre-pandemic world, each fall world leaders would descend upon New York City to speak at the General Debate of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). Last year, this tradition was disrupted (as so many others) by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of migrating to Turtle …

Big Brother is watching: Spyware exports pose unprecedented threat to democratic leaders and human rights defenders

by Kerry Pearson, Universal Rights Group Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

‘Never has the human right to privacy been more important and more under siege,’ suggested the UN Special Rapporteur on Privacy, Joe Cannataci, when presenting his recent report on ‘artificial intelligence and privacy’ to the Human Rights Council’s 47th session (HRC47). His words seemed especially prescient this week as news broke that spyware developed by NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance company, …

Is returning to pre-COVID-19 levels of ‘equality’ enough?

by Zaineb Ali, Universal Rights Group Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

Oxfam recently published a new report, ‘ The Inequality Virus ’, which offers startling new data on the state of inequality around the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It demonstrates that COVID-19 has the potential to increase inequalities in almost every country at once – the first time this has happened since records began over a century ago. The virus …

Garbage in, garbage out: is AI discriminatory or simply a mirror of IRL inequalities?

by Aurore Lentz, Universal Rights Group Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

When considering the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), it is useful to remember Tay, an infamous Twitter chatbot launched by Microsoft in March 2016. Tay was an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot intended to ‘learn’ by reading tweets and interacting with other Twitter users. ‘The more you talk, the smarter Tay gets!,’ its description read. It only took a few hours …

The pandemic, prevention and politics: the High Commissioner and HRC President highlight cross-cutting human rights work at the Third Committee

by Tess Kidney Bishop, Universal Rights Group NYC Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes, New York City, Universal Rights Group NYC

As part of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, both the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the President of the Human Rights Council gave statements to the Third Committee. Statements, and the interactive dialogues with member States that followed, were conducted virtually and not without the occasional technological hiccup. Nevertheless, a higher number of states participated than …

Introducing ‘The Pacific Principles of Practice’ for effective national implementation

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, In focus: domestic implementation of universal norms

On 3 July a Human Rights Council side event was held at the Australian Mission in Geneva. Except for the fact that it was a COVID-era ‘hybrid’ side event, held simultaneously offline and online, at a superficial-level the side event was much like any other. Yet dig a little below the surface and the event was extraordinary – or rather, it marked …

Is COVID-19 proving to be the ‘Achilles’ heel’ of the world’s populist leaders?

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

The rise of populist leaders around the world, with their particularly Orwellian brand of post-truth politics, has been one of the defining geopolitical trends of the past five years. From Trump to Orban, Bolsonaro to Johnson, and Erdogan to Modi, these politicians have seemed to carry all before them. Yet perhaps they have finally met their match in COVID-19? Although …

Protecting the rights of older persons during the COVID-19 pandemic

by Alfonso Barragues, Deputy Director, UNFPA Liaison Office in Geneva Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, By invitation

As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pointed out, the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most dangerous challenges the world has faced in our lifetime. It is a human crisis with severe health and economic consequences. That is particularly the case for older persons who face a higher mortality risk, with those over 80 years old dying at five times …

Sudan outlaws Female Genital Mutilation: what does it mean for women’s rights in the country?

by Tiago Medeiros Delgado, Universal Rights Group Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, In focus: domestic implementation of universal norms

In a significant move for women’s rights in Sudan and the wider region, the country’s transitional government has outlawed the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The amendment to the criminal code that makes ‘whoever removed, mutilated the female genitalia by cutting, mutilating or modifying any natural part of it leading to the full or partial loss of its functions’ punishable …

Contact Tracing and challenges to privacy

by Dr. Jonathan Andrew, Research Fellow, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

The RightOn webinar earlier this week brought together experts to discuss the use of technologies to facilitate contact tracing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and asked whether such approaches represented a risk to the right to privacy. A diverse range of perspectives on human rights law – including those of civil society, computer science, academia and the telecommunications industry – informed …