Re-imagining human rights for New Zealand

by Paul Hunt, University of Essex (UK); University of Waikato (New Zealand) Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, In focus: democracy

This article was first published in the Dominion Post on October 16 and re-published on the Human Rights Centre Blog of the University of Essex on 26 October 2020 There’s a global pushback against human rights. Around the world, authoritarian “strongmen” are behaving like Roman Emperors. Supported by their disaffected ‘base’, they peddle racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance. …

‘Even if they contain misinformation…’: how government inaction and interference on social media could mean the hijacking of an election

by Jenna Lanoil, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

‘I know that I have blood on my hands,’ Sophie Zhang, a former Facebook data scientist wrote in a memo about her time with Facebook. Zhang claims that Facebook allowed for heads of state and political parties from around the world to misrepresent themselves through fake accounts and to spread disinformation. She cites in particular an operation by the Azerbaijanian Government …

What are the world’s human rights priorities in 2020, and what to look out for in 2021?

by Danica Damplo, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, New York City, Universal Rights Group NYC

Human rights analysis of high-level speeches during the general debate of the UN General Assembly Each fall, world leaders descend upon New York to speak at the general debate of the UN General Assembly (GA). This year, because of the COVID-19  pandemic , world leaders were invited to send in pre-recorded videos of their speeches which were broadcast ‘as live.’ The …

Using digital technology to systematically violate the right to vote: How the Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign used AI to suppress the votes of Black Americans

by Danica Damplo, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

29th September 2020 On 28 September, the UK’s Channel 4 News revealed that it had obtained a data cache used by Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, which contained evidence that the campaign had sought to digital technology to deter 3.5 million Black Americans by targeting them with tailored, negative ads. While digital tools and social media platforms can in principle strengthen …

EU Council paralysis over situation in Belarus demonstrates urgent need for EU Magnitsky act

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

As the human rights situation in Belarus has continued to deteriorate, efforts by the European Union to impose sanctions on Belarussian officials have stalled due to a failure to meet unanimity within the EU Council (i.e. the Union’s body comprised of heads of member States that is responsible for making unanimous decisions on its Common Foreign and Security Policy). This …

‘Stumbling zombie-like into a digital welfare dystopia’: Are world governments capable of putting digital technology at the service of equality, non-discrimination, and social and economic rights?

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

The Human Rights Council and the wider UN human rights system have regularly considered the human rights implications of new technologies (e.g. resolution 20/08 on the ‘Promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet’). Over recent years, that interest has intensified . The most recent Council text on the subject – resolution 41/11 on ‘New and emerging digital technologies and human rights,’ adopted …

Is digital technology rotting British and American democracy from the inside out

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

The rapid evolution and spread of digital technology are already having a major impact on the enjoyment of civil and political rights around the world, and on the ways in which democracies function. Some of those impacts are undoubtedly positive. Digital technology, for example, allows citizens to scrutinise the actions and decisions of government officials (e.g. in the context of …

The Tik(Tok)ing of privacy rights in the digital era: the need for an international framework to protect data privacy

by Siri Swayampu, former URG NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

Research estimates that over half of the world’s population is online every day and over 90% of the population aged 6 and older will be online by 2030. The onset of the coronavirus pandemic saw a sustained surge in online activity across the world. Beginning as a breakthrough in communications, the internet phenomenon has since transformed into a revolution that is embedded in every …

Rapid expansion of ‘Magnitsky-style’ human rights sanctions regimes underlines need for international coordination and norms

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

Although July and August are traditionally ‘slow’ months for both governments and the UN, this year they have coincided with an explosion of interest in, and movement towards, so-called ‘Magnitsky-style’ sanction regimes – geared towards holding those guilty of serious human rights violations to individual account. First out the block in early July was the UK, which on 6 July …

How UN recognition of the right to water and sanitation has informed efforts to secure universal recognition of the right to a healthy, clean and sustainable environment

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

At the end of July, the world celebrated the tenth anniversary of the universal recognition of the right to water and sanitation by the UN General Assembly (GA). To mark the occasion the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, Léo Heller, issued a statement (which can be read here) in which he hailed this …