Oct 07 2020
Past event

Human Rights Roundtable: ‘Risks to human rights and credible elections during an online infodemic’

Universal Rights Group NYC and the Carter Center co-organized a digital roundtable as part of the Forum on Human Rights: “Risks to human rights and credible elections during an online ‘infodemic.’” The roundtable took place on 7 October 2020 at from 1:00PM – 2:00PM EDT.

While digital innovations have empowered people around the world, they have also amplified the spread of disinformation, posing serious risks for credible elections. This year, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread, it brought with it what the World Health Organization described as an ‘infodemic’ of misinformation, particularly through social media platforms. The manipulation of information can affect the extent to which elections are free and fair, as well as how credibly they will be perceived.

The COVID-19 pandemic, the protests against systemic and structural racism and police brutality that have emerged in all fifty U.S states (and across the globe), and looming elections, have moved up the timeline for action. It will be critical for experts and practitioners in the election and human rights field, in collaboration with social media companies and States actors, to develop workable solutions in a manner recognizing the importance of freedom of expression while responding to the seriousness of the challenge to democracy posed by online hate speech and disinformation.

This digital roundtable considered the impact of disinformation and hate speech on free and fair elections, the role of social media companies in mitigating the impact of their respective platforms, and what a human rights based solution could look like that strikes a balance between protecting freedom of expression and ensuring the integrity of elections.


Opening Remarks: Danica Damplo, Policy Analyst and Head of New York Office of Universal Rights Group

Moderator: Avery Davis-Roberts, Associate Director of Democracy Program at the Carter Center


  • Dominique Day, Chair of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, and Executive Director of Daylyt
  • Kate Jones, Oxford University Law Faculty, and Associate Fellow at Chatham House
  • Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion
  • Amy Mitchell, Director of Journalism Research, Pew Research Center


  • Examine the ways in which disinformation, particularly online, can disrupt free and fair elections
  • Identify role of social media companies in combating the spread of disinformation
  • Discuss the role of race in disinformation campaigns and hate speech
  • Develop solutions from a human rights approach


A concept note can be found here.

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  • Oct 7th 2020
  • 13:00 - 14:00
  • Public event