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Human Rights and New and Emerging Technology

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Programme Director
Julia Purcell

Project Manager
Sarah-Jane Holtam


Technological change is accelerating. The development of new and emerging technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, biometrics and neuro-technologies, have profound implications for the enjoyment of human rights.

There are positive opportunities, as technology can be harnessed to support the enjoyment of human rights. The ability to share thoughts and views, to access information, to gather in groups to coordinate action, to improve access to education and healthcare are all positive developments that can and do enrich human rights.

On the other hand, there are complex risks to human rights associated with these technologies. These range from targeted persecution of vulnerable and marginalised groups and technology-facilitated gender-based violence, to the development of new security technology to target Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and civil society.

In parallel, there are concerns about the ways in which autocratic regimes are influencing the development of and exporting technologies globally.

In the international system, there is also increased focus on the implications of new technologies for the enjoyment of human rights. Numerous initiatives are developing across different parts of the multilateral system, including at the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. Multistakeholder communities are also considering these issues, including the OECD Global Forum on Technology and the UN Internet Governance Forum.

The relationship between human rights and technology is likely to be a key theme of negotiations on a UN Global Digital Compact, due to conclude at the Summit of the Future in 2024. While the increasing focus on the importance of human rights in the emerging technologies agenda is welcome, there are risks of fragmentation and inconsistencies in approach.

This event will provide an opportunity for senior policy makers to discuss the implications of new and emerging technologies for the enjoyment of human rights and to identify pathways to ensure that the design, development and use of technologies are consistent with and safeguard human rights.

In partnership with

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office logo

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