Norway’s Supreme Court dismisses claim based on the right to a healthy environment and allows new oil exploration in the Arctic

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

On 22 December 2020, Norway’s Supreme Court handed down its judgment in the closely followed climate lawsuit based on the constitutional right to a healthy environment, known as the Norwegian Arctic Oil case . The appeal was brought to the Supreme Court by environmental groups that disputed an administrative decision, based on a 2013 legislation, which authorised the administration to grant licences to oil …

Garbage in, garbage out: is AI discriminatory or simply a mirror of IRL inequalities?

by Aurore Lentz, Universal Rights Group Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

When considering the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), it is useful to remember Tay, an infamous Twitter chatbot launched by Microsoft in March 2016. Tay was an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot intended to ‘learn’ by reading tweets and interacting with other Twitter users. ‘The more you talk, the smarter Tay gets!,’ its description read. It only took a few hours …

Advertisers and social media companies strike a deal to address harmful content

by Aurore Lentz, Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

Following months of negotiations, the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM), a consortium of companies including major brands of consumer goods and media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google, reached an agreement earlier this trimester to adopt a common framework on harmful content in the context of advertisement. By defining sensitive or harmful content in a unified manner across the industry, this agreement would make …

The right to a healthy environment gives rise to a growing wave of climate change litigation

by Renata Politi, Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

In an amicus curiae brief submitted in the Norwegian Artic Oil case currently pending before the Norwegian Supreme Court, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment , David R. Boyd, and UN Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes , Marcos A Orellana, argued that “the justiciability of the right to a healthy environment empowers citizens and civil society, strengthening democratic decision-making and fostering accountability for political decisions. Access to justice is itself a fundamental human right, including in the …

Swiss Responsible Business Initiative rejected despite securing a majority of the popular vote

by Zaineb Ali, Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

On Sunday 29 November, the day of the referendum for the contentious and hard-fought Swiss Responsible Business Initiative (RBI), human rights expert Dick Marty stated , ‘if victory doesn’t come today, it will certainly come tomorrow.’ In the end, although the RBI won a majority of the popular vote, 50.7%, it failed to secure the majority of cantonal votes required to pass …

EU adopts ‘Magnitsky’ style individual sanctions regime for grave human rights violations

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

Today, 7 December 2020, the EU formally adopted a decision and regulation establishing its new ‘Magnitsky-style’ individual sanctions regime for serious human rights, only a couple days ahead of 10th December – UN Human Rights Day. The step, coming 77 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is expected to make a significant contribution towards global human …

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, former 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 …