Biden’s decision to rescind the Global Gag Rule could have implications for the US approach to sexual health and reproductive rights at the UN

by Tess Brennan, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

President Biden repealed the Global Gag Rule, which he described as his ‘predecessor’s attack on women’s health access’, via Executive Order on 28 January. This move comes as part of the administration’s plan to protect the rights of women both domestically and abroad. The decision serves as a key indicator for how the US may re-emerge on the world stage as …

The French ‘case of the century’ ushers in new era of environmental litigation

by Louis Mason, Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

On 3 February 2021, in a historic decision that confirms the growing trend of civil society led public interest litigation founded on the right to a healthy environment, a French administrative court recognised that the French State could be held responsible for failing to meet its commitments to mitigate climate change. In an unparalleled outpouring of public support for the plaintiffs …

Inequitable access to Covid-19 vaccines threatens the human rights of millions and must be addressed

by Tess Kidney Bishop, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

Covid-19 has shone a stark light onto inequalities between countries. So far, high-income countries have recorded the most cases and deaths, but the economic impact of Covid-19 has been disproportionately harmful to lower-income countries, where governments and citizens have fewer resources to weather the storm. Despite their declarations against ‘vaccine nationalism’, richer countries have paid to get to the front …

The Escazú Agreement: A landmark regional treaty for environmental defenders

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

The international community eagerly awaits the Escazú Agreement to come into force in early 2021 after having secured 12 ratifications (one more than the minimum required – 11). The Escazú Agreement , which emerged from the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), is the first legally binding instrument in the world to include provisions on environmental human rights defenders (EHRDs) …

New corporate ‘Treaty Body’ gears up to consider Facebook’s decision to bar Donald Trump

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

As reported in the New York Times , its members include two people who were reportedly on presidential shortlists for the US Supreme Court, a Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate, a British Pulitzer Prize winner, a former UN Special Rapporteur, Colombia’s leading human rights lawyer, and a former prime minister of Denmark. Welcome to the Facebook Oversight Board, operational since October 2020 (Mark …

Incitement and insurrection in the US underscore need for universal norms on hate speech and disinformation in the digital age

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group and Amanda Gu, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

The attack on the United States Capitol on 6 January was live streamed on every major internet platform , an act of violence recorded and organised online. Digital technology companies quickly suspended related accounts, adding to a global debate on the parameters of freedom of expression in the digital realm. Given the gravity of the situation — the fact that social media was used in the attempted …

Brazilian indigenous leaders urge the International Criminal Court to investigate President Jair Bolsonaro over destruction of the Amazon

by Mariana Montoya, Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

Brazilian indigenous leaders have requested the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to investigate [i] President Jair Bolsonaro for ‘crimes against humanity’, accusing him of unprecedented environmental damage, killings, and persecution. Chief Raoni Metuktire, the leader of the Kayapo people, and Chief Almir Narayamoga Surui, leader of the Paiter Surui tribe, filed the claim at the Hague-based body on 22 …

Norway’s Supreme Court dismisses claim based on the right to a healthy environment and allows new oil exploration in the Arctic

by Renata Politi, Universal Rights Group and Louis Mason, Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

On 22 December 2020, Norway’s Supreme Court handed down its judgment in the closely followed climate lawsuit based on the constitutional right to a healthy environment, known as the Norwegian Arctic Oil case . The appeal was brought to the Supreme Court by environmental groups that disputed an administrative decision, based on a 2013 legislation, which authorised the administration to grant licences to oil …

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 …

Advertisers and social media companies strike a deal to address harmful content

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

Following months of negotiations, the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM), a consortium of companies including major brands of consumer goods and media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google, reached an agreement earlier this trimester to adopt a common framework on harmful content in the context of advertisement. By defining sensitive or harmful content in a unified manner across the industry, this agreement would make …