President Biden commits to protecting the right to vote and revitalising American democracy

by Daniela Kyle, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Democracy, In focus: democracy, Thematic human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

On 13 June, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, President Joe Biden delivered a fiery speech on the importance of protecting voting rights in America. The president emphasised the need for free and fair elections in order to uphold American core values as well as to strengthen democracy domestically and abroad. The speech was directed both at the American people …

From apartheid South Africa to the Euro 2020 football championship: how sport and human rights make for natural teammates

by Mathis Limon Blog, Blog, By invitation, By invitation, Racism, Thematic human rights issues

Competitive sports and the athletes who compete in them, can have an enormously positive impact on the enjoyment of human rights. The global reach and popularity of sports such as football, rugby, cricket, basketball, golf, athletics, and Formula 1, mean they can be used as a vehicle to either promote human rights (e.g., soccer training camps for disadvantaged children), or …

Making AI trustworthy: the EU’s proposed legal framework for regulating artificial intelligence

by Courtney Halverson, URG NYC Artificial intelligence, Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Thematic human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has a plethora of uses, spanning from surprising and beneficial applications, like applying the same technology used to analyse pastries to identify cancer cells, to potentially detrimental and intrusive applications, like using facial recognition to track citizens. The European Union’s new proposal for a legal framework to govern AI suggests that the introduction of ethical, human centered regulations can both …

Who controls ‘town square’: amidst a public health crisis, India battles social media companies to curb dissent

by Danica Damplo, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Democracy, Thematic human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

Amidst the collapse of the public health system in India and an atmospheric rise in COVID-19 cases, social media platforms became ‘town squares’; centres of desperate coordination for supplies as well as outlets for growing frustration at the government’s failure to prevent thousands of deaths. The Government of Narendra Modi has in turn pressured social media companies to block posts and remove …

Generation Equality Forum 2021: A light at the end of the gender inequality tunnel?

by Vany Cortés, Universal Rights Group Geneva Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Gender equality, Thematic human rights issues

In his virtual address at the inauguration ceremony of the Generation Equality Forum 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron remarked that ‘no country in the world has yet achieved complete equality between men and women’. This observation crystallises the alarming state of gender equality almost 26 years after the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and the adoption of the landmark …

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

by Anna-Christina Schmidl, Universal Rights Group Geneva Blog, Blog, Climate change, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Environmental human rights defenders, Thematic 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 …

Trump, Facebook, democracy and rights: ‘how to handle free speech in an age of information chaos’

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Democracy, In focus: democracy, Thematic human rights issues, Uncategorized

Writing in the Guardian on 5 May, Alan Rusbridger, a former newspaper editor and now member of the Facebook Oversight Board, set out in stark terms the dilemma facing the Board as it reviewed the social media giant’s decision, last January, to ban then President Donald Trump from its platform. ‘On 6 January, he was the president of the United States: probably …

Sisyphean endeavours and unfinished business: UN Secretary-General Guterres lays out his vision for a second term, including a conference on human rights and renewed focus on prevention

by Danica Damplo, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Climate change, Human rights institutions and mechanisms, Prevention, Prevention, accountability and justice, Thematic human rights issues, UNGA, Universal Rights Group NYC

On 8 January 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres notified the General Assembly (GA) President Volkan Bozkir and Security Council President for January Tarek Ladeb of his intentions to run for re-election. On 23 March, Guterres sent his Vision Statement to Bozkir, and on 7 May, engaged in an informal dialogue with the GA. Given that Guterres will likely succeed in securing a second term, his …

More restrictive demonstration and protest laws risk eroding fundamental democratic values

by Tess Brennan, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Democracy, In focus: democracy, Thematic human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

Republican lawmakers in the United States have recently introduced new legislation at the state level regarding protests and demonstrations. The bills collectively place greater restrictions on individual protest rights and increase the penalties for those charged under such provisions. The majority of laws are currently pending, but send a dangerous message even if they do not pass. This movement indicates …

Environmental Justice, Climate Change and the Right to a Healthy Environment in the Biden Administration

by Professor Dan Magraw, President Emeritus of the Centre for International Environmental Law Blog, Blog, By invitation, By invitation, Climate change, Human rights implementation and impact, R2E, R2E, Thematic human rights issues

28 April 2021 United States President Joe Biden has prioritized achieving environmental justice and combatting climate change, following up on campaign pledges. The Biden Administration’s focus on climate change is evident in early Executive Orders (EOs) [i] and in the April 22 Climate Summit that he convened. President Biden’s focus on environmental justice (EJ) is manifested in the same EOs. He …