Human Rights Council vote to elect new President sets a positive precedent

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

There have been suggestions in press coverage about the selection of the 2021 President of the Human Rights Council that the inability of members of the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) to settle on a single consensus candidate, and to instead pass the decision to the full Council for vote by secret ballot, was in some way a bad thing – that it was …

In the wake of attack on the Capitol, Biden repeats commitment to strengthen democracy domestically and abroad

by Tess Brennan, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, In focus: democracy, Universal Rights Group NYC

Biden has repeatedly affirmed his dedication to crafting a foreign policy plan focused on rebuilding alliances with like-minded partners in order to strengthen the United States’ position as a nation that protects and promotes democracy and human rights globally. He made this clear in recent remarks and, in an address following the insurrection at the United States Capitol on 6 …

The impact of the 2020 US presidential elections on human rights and international institutions

by Melissa Hooper, Sophia Swanson, Anna van Niekerk, Human Rights First Blog, Blog, By invitation, New York City

The United States has always had a somewhat contentious relationship with the international human rights project. It has never ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (which today has over 150 states parties) or the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (which has 185). It became the sole holdout on the Convention …

Reinvesting in rights: Why the next US administration must prioritize multilateralism to protect human rights

by Grace Anderson, Stanford University Ford Fellow in Philanthropy Blog, Blog, By invitation, New York City

October 21, 2020 Over the past four years, the Trump Administration has slowly abdicated its role as a leader in multilateralism and as one of the top promoters of human rights at the UN specifically. At this year’s UN General Assembly (UNGA), President Donald Trump touted a narrow view of human rights, citing priorities of “religious liberty, opportunity for women, the …

‘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 …

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 …

Report of the Council’s urgent debate on the situation of human rights in Belarus during HRC45

by the URG team Blog, Blog, In focus: democracy, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes, URG Human Rights Council Reports

On Friday 18 September 2020, in the context of the 45th session of the Human Rights Council, which opened on Monday 14 September, an urgent debate was convened on the ‘situation of human rights in Belarus ’. The urgent debate was requested through an official letter from H. E. Ambassador Michael von Ungern-Sternberg of Germany on behalf of the European Union (EU) and addressed to …

For 18% of Americans social media is their main source of news – what does this mean for the presidential elections?

by Danica Damplo, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, In focus: democracy, Universal Rights Group NYC

On 30 July, the Pew Research Center released a report that revealed that one in five Americans use social media for their primary source of news. This report comes at a time of both an intense news cycle, dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and a fast approaching US presidential election, and when social media usage is at an all-time high . It …

‘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 …

Free and fair elections

Elections are the cornerstone of democracy. Where electoral laws are sound, and where electoral commissions, processes and mechanisms are strong, a successful election can set a country on a course to long-term democracy, stability and the improved enjoyment of human rights. But where national election infrastructure is weak or open to abuse, mistrust, grievance and anger can quickly grow, especially …