Placing digital technology at the service of democracy and human rights (3D2)

Universal Rights Group

From 16-17 November, a high-level meeting of State representatives, UN officials, technology company representatives, and civil society, took place in Montreux, Switzerland, as well as online, to consider the challenges and opportunities posed by digital technology to the integrity and vitality of democracy, and to the enjoyment of civil and political rights.

The rapid evolution and spread of digital technology are having a major impact on the enjoyment of human rights around the world, and on the ways in which democracies function. Some of those impacts are positive. However, with opportunities also come threats and challenges. There is a real risk that technology will increasingly be used to foment doubt, polarisation, and distrust in democratic institutions and processes. Hence, governments, the private sector and civil society must come together to address the threats and challenges – and seize the opportunities – posed by digital technology to democracy and rights and ultimately build popular confidence in democracy.

The meeting, part of the Digital Democracy Dialogues (3D) series of events, aimed to take stock of the current situation, and to identify new ideas and proposals for how to place digital technology at the service of democracy and rights, including through consideration of possible commitments to be made by States and others at the upcoming Summit for Democracy, as well as during the year of action ahead of the second Summit in December 2022.

The meeting was sponsored by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, the Universal Rights Group, Facebook, and the other 3D series partner organisations, namely the Carter Center, the International Institute for Democracy and Election Assistance (IDEA), and the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT).

This report provides a short summary of key conclusions from the event, together with ideas put forward for possible commitments to be made by States and technology companies participating in the the Summit for Democracy. The summary report reflects the Chatham House rule under which the event took place. The contents of the report reflect views and ideas presented at the event, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of any of the event organisers or 3D partner organisations.

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