The end of the COVID-19 pandemic may finally be in sight, but is everyone included?

by Rebecca Lily Shepard, Universal Rights Group Geneva Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Uncategorized

Addressing the opening of the 74th World Health Assembly in Geneva on Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that ‘unless we act now, we face a situation in which rich countries vaccinate the majority of their people and open their economies, while the virus continues to cause deep suffering by circling and mutating in the poorest countries.’ This sharp criticism of …

No more procrastination on climate change, says German Constitutional Court in landmark decision

by Anna-Christina Schmidl, Universal Rights Group Geneva Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

On 24 March 2021, the First Senate of the German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) rendered its long-awaited decision on four constitutional complaints [1] brought in relation to Germany’s Federal Climate Change Act (Bundes-Klimaschutzgesetz) of 2019. The plaintiffs – some of whom are young climate activists – had alleged, in part , that the Act violates the fundamental rights of future generations by failing to prescribe in sufficient detail a long-term pathway for …

Vaccine nationalism: Is US support for vaccine patent waivers a PR stunt?

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

The Biden administration made headlines on 5 May when, in a sharp reversal of US policy, it accounted its agreement, in principle, with proposals at the WTO to waive patent protection for COVID-19 vaccines. Pharma companies and stockbrokers were not the only ones taken by surprise by the US volte-face. Other Western States where COVID-19 vaccines are produced, especially in …

FinTech’s opportunities and risks, and the importance of regulation for the protection of human rights

by Amanda Gu, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

Financial technology (FinTech) has been described as a harbinger of change, one that could  impose a new regime of streamlined finance. Although there is some merit to the potential of these services to revolutionise finance, reduce inequality and accelerate development, like any other technology, they require regulation to safeguard against abuses that could have serious human rights impacts. The United …

Western States flex their ‘Magnitsky muscles’ to secure accountability for human rights abuses in China

by the URG team Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

With the return of the US to the UN stage, geopolitical tensions surrounding human rights, especially relating to alleged violations of human rights law by China, Egypt, Russia and Saudi Arabia, have resurfaced, dominating , for example, the recently concluded 46th session of the Human Rights Council . Central to the renewed tensions with China is deep US concern about the treatment of the country’s Muslim minority population …

How do you solve a problem like WhatsApp? The complicated role of messaging apps in the fight against disinformation and for free speech

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

Much of the debate around the spread of misinformation and online harassment has been focused on the biggest social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and, more recently, TikTok. Messaging apps, like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat, and the increasingly popular Telegram and Signal, have nearly as many users as these platforms and are also rife with disinformation, hate …

Digital democratic cities and the future of human rights online

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

The title of the seventh edition of the Glion Human Rights Dialogue in late 2020, ‘ Making digital technology work for human rights ,’ was chosen deliberately. The organisers hoped that at the same time as considering the important threats to human rights posed by such technology, such as the emergence of ‘surveillance States’ and internet shutdowns, Glion VII would also – in a more positive sense …

Biden’s American Rescue Plan has the potential to greatly impact children living in poverty

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

Despite the growing feeling that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic may be in sight, a staggering number of people worldwide continue to suffer from the consequences wrought. The imperative to provide support to those who have suffered the most and the opportunity to ‘build back better’ have never been more evident. The Biden administration seems to recognise this, as …

Facebook vs. Australia–the latest dispute over the digital space

by Amanda Gu, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

On 18 February, after three years of negotiations over the Australian Media Bargaining Code, Facebook took the controversial decision of implementing a broad ban on all Australian publishers and prevented people in Australia from viewing or posting links to news stories . The ban lasted five days, and was only lifted after the Australian government made concessions. This ongoing disagreement between Facebook and the Australian government is only the latest in …

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 …