IGF 2021 WS #204 Stakeholder Roles for Human Rights Due Diligence

Tuesday, 7th December, 2021 (16:30 UTC) - Tuesday, 7th December, 2021 (17:30 UTC)
Ballroom A

Organizer 1: Cathrine Bloch Veiberg, Danish Institute for Human Rights
Organizer 2: Agustina Del Campo, CELE (Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information)
Organizer 3: Sarina Phu, Global Network Initiative (GNI)
Organizer 4: Ramiro Alvarez Ugarte, Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information at Palermo University, Argentina
Organizer 5: Usama Khilji, Bolo Bhi

Speaker 1: Cathrine Bloch Veiberg, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Ramiro Alvarez Ugarte, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: René van Eijk, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Inamullah Khan, Government, Asia-Pacific Group

Additional Speakers

Agustina Del Campo, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Sarina Phu, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - Circle - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

Digital policy and human rights frameworks: What is the relationship between digital policy and development and the established international frameworks for civil and political rights as set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and further interpretation of these in the online context provided by various resolutions of the Human Rights Council? How do policy makers and other stakeholders effectively connect these global instruments and interpretations to national contexts? What is the role of different local, national, regional and international stakeholders in achieving digital inclusion that meets the requirements of users in all communities?
Inclusion, rights and stakeholder roles and responsibilities: What are/should be the responsibilities of governments, businesses, the technical community, civil society, the academic and research sector and community-based actors with regard to digital inclusion and respect for human rights, and what is needed for them to fulfil these in an efficient and effective manner?

This session will address the question of stakeholder roles and responsibilities for human rights in the digital space, focusing on human rights due diligence (HRDD). The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide a key framework for establishing how international human rights instruments apply in the online context, but the practice of HRDD has primarily been limited to the private sector.

With numerous pending legislative efforts mandating human rights due diligence or other digital risk assessments, this workshop will address opportunities for greater multistakeholder collaboration to protect rights online. Representatives from government, businesses, civil society, and the academic and research sector will share their reflections, identify challenges, and lay the groundwork for the development of tools and guidance for organizations undertaking digital human rights due diligence and human rights impact assessments.



Targets: Our topic, human rights due diligence, is broad and can touch upon nearly all of the SDG targets depending on the situation. By focusing on the digital environment and the role of different stakeholder groups, we will specifically address the following targets:

8.2 -- Technological upgrading and innovation are critical to economic productivity, but should not come at the cost of human rights violations by governments or companies. HRDD is the key tool set out in the UNGPs by which companies can uphold their responsibility to respect human rights while also increasing economic opportunities.

9.c -- As the digital ecosystem expands via access to information and communications technology and universal and affordable access to the Internet, the responsibilities of governments and companies to protect human rights online will become more urgent and important.

16.10 -- As governments contemplate new laws and regulations, including mandatory human rights due diligence for the private sector, it is important for all stakeholders to reflect on how these and other laws can best protect fundamental rights.

Human rights due diligence and impact assessments are a key tool for stakeholders who aim to put human rights at the center of inclusive digital societies. Although the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights consider due diligence a part of the corporate responsibility to respect rights, other stakeholders may benefit from this approach or incorporate it into policy and practice. As legislative proposals around the world either seek to make due diligence mandatory for companies, or impose specific risk assessment requirements on digital services, there is an urgent need to identify good practices and opportunities for collaboration. This workshop will convene a diversity of participants, from governments, businesses, the technical community, civil society, the academic and research sector and community-based actors to share insights on how these groups can best protect users’ rights online.

The workshop will use a roundtable format in which key questions are addressed by all of the participants. Subject matter experts representing key perspectives will provide short framing comments in response to questions, but the moderator will actively involve all participants in the discussion.

Expected Outcomes

The discussion will inform and enrich the organizers’ workstreams on this issue, including the Global Network Initiative’s ( GNI) human rights due diligence working group, as well as publications from the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) and the Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information at Palermo University (CELE).

In particular, GNI will use insights from this workshop to help develop a set of resources and guidance for companies, which it aims to launch at the 2022 IGF, and DIHR will use the insights in its upcoming review of the guidance on human rights impact assessments of digital activities..

The session will be structured on a series of key questions that all speakers are invited to comment on, from their respective perspectives. Participants will be invited to provide their comments on the same key questions and their reactions to the speakers.

The session will also make use of live survey tools (e.g. Mentimeter) to gather input to key questions from the participants, allowing the speakers and moderator to reflect on the received input.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: Building on the organizers’ experience facilitating similar roundtable discussions, we will make use of online participation features including the chat function to both encourage remote participation, provide a means for participants to share relevant links, ask questions, and make interventions captured in the event report.