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 …

UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights goes out guns blazing against failure to address poverty

by Steven L. B. Jensen Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

‘The world is at an existential crossroads.’ These are the opening words in the outgoing UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston’s final report to the UN Human Rights Council submitted in July 2020. Professor Philip Alston, one of the world’s most distinguished human rights experts, used his five-year tenure to put a spotlight on the …

The UK’s new targeted sanctions regime ‘a powerful new tool with which to uphold and protect human rights’

by H.E. Rita French, International Ambassador for Human Rights of the United Kingdom Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

On 6 July, the UK launched a new ‘Magnitsky-style’ Global Human Rights (GHR) Sanctions Regime. The regime will be a powerful new tool to hold those involved in serious human rights violations and abuses to account. This marks the beginning of a new era for sanctions policy and will change the paradigm in which the UK engages on human rights. …

France’s watered-down anti-hate speech law enters into force

by the URG team Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, In focus: democracy, In Focus: Human rights and religion

On 1 July a new French law entered into force that aims to regulate online hate speech. Known as the ‘Avia law’ after Laetitia Avia, the parliamentarian who drafted the original bill, the final law was significantly watered down during its passage through the lower house of parliament and the Senate, following opposition from free speech activists. Then, in an …

‘The stakes couldn’t be higher’: social media, disinformation, and the survival of democracy

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

On 11 June United States Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden posted the following tweet : He accused Facebook of failing to enact any real reforms to combat disinformation on its platform, with his campaign releasing an open letter for people to sign emphasising the role that disinformation – spread on Facebook – could have on the coming 2020 presidential election …

Human Rights and COVID-19: ‘Build Back Better’

by Steven L. B. Jensen Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

We are living in times that call for leadership of the responsible and visionary kind. Such leadership is visible in a number of states and the citizens living there are in a better situation because of it. We are also witnessing distinct examples of the opposite. Here, we see that populations are suffering much more than necessary as political leaders …

Business and human rights: ‘building back better’ from COVID-19

by Cathy Sun, Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

As the ongoing COVID-19 crisis lays bare deep socioeconomic divisions that plague even some of the wealthiest States around the world, the crucial role that businesses have in ensuring the enjoyment of human rights by all is brought into ever stronger focus. While governments have struggled with the balancing act of enacting restrictive emergency measures to contain the spread of …