Round Table - 60 Min
International organizations, such as the UN, increasingly employ digital technologies for a wealth of purposes, including risk prediction, enhancing humanitarian and development aid, and strengthening peace operations. Human rights due diligence (HRDD) and human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) are indispensable to ensure that digital tools help to advance peace, the SDGs and human rights, rather than cause harm, in particular vis-à-vis 'those most vulnerable and affected' in the Global South.
In his Roadmap on Digital Cooperation, the UN Secretary-General asked UN Human Rights to develop UN “system-wide guidance on human rights due diligence and impact assessments in the use of new technologies, including through engagement with civil society, external experts and those most vulnerable and affected.” This call is echoed in the strategy to implement the Secretary-General's Call to Action for Human Rights.
Along with partners from the Secretary-General’s 3A/3B virtual roundtable on human rights, the UN Human Rights Office has organized multistakeholder fora to gather feedback on this guidance, with a view to ensuring that diverse perspectives of Member States, CSOs, companies, and marginalized communities are meaningfully incorporated. Building on the discussion and inputs received at IGF 2022 Open Forum on the same topic, this Open Forum will provide an opportunity to discuss the final draft of the guidance and gather candid feedback from a broad range of civil society experts, Member States, private companies, UN entities, and other stakeholders, which will inform the next steps as we move towards endorsement of the guidance and implementation.
The Open Forum will:
- Highlight the importance of developing human rights due diligence of technology at the United Nations in the context of increasing global digitalization;
- Provide an update on progress made, including sharing feedback on the final draft of the guidance, responses to main concerns raised thus far, and finalization process;
- Feature a conversation between representatives of UN entities on their experience and challenges in implementing HRDD within their respective organizations;
- Create space for multi-stakeholder debate and discussion on the way forward to roll out the guidance.
UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR)
European External Action Service – European Union
Office of the Secretary-General UN Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology
On-site Moderator: Peggy Hicks, Director, Thematic Division, UN Human Rights Office
Welcoming remarks: Amandeep Singh Gill, UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Technology (TBD)
Where do things stand? Update on process: Scott Campbell, Senior Human Rights Officer, UN Human Rights
What have we learned: update on the final draft of the guidance: Catie Shavin, Senior Project Advisor
Moderated Discussion: Implementing HRDD for tech at the UN: challenges and perspectives on implementation.
- David E. Satola, Lead Counsel, Technology & Innovation, World Bank
- Nicholas Oakeshott, Senior Policy Officer, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- Marwa Fatafta, Access Now
Open Discussion with audience
Peggy Hicks, Director, Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division, UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR)
UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR)
Yoojin Kim, Associate Human Rights Officer, UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR)
Targets: The UN system-wide human rights due diligence policy currently being drafted aims to serve as a model for Member States and other stakeholders in the importance of conducting a human rights due diligence in the lifecycle of technologies to ensure that digital tools help to advance peace, the SDGs and human rights, rather than cause harm, in particular to those most vulnerable and affected. The guidance note is being developed through a series of mulstistakeholder consultations, recognizing the importance of partnerships in achieving its stated objective.
- Access to effective remedy is crucial, noting the impact of technologies on marginalized and vulnerable populations. There is a need to build in elements of independent assessment for oversight and accountability reasons. Transparency on the process and practice and continued engagement with civil society are key. Effective enforcement is also a key element to the success of this guidance.
- Emphasize the need to take seriously the questions raised in the discussion on transparency, independent assessments, and enforcement for the HRDD Policy Working Group to take on as they implement next stages on the policy guidance.
The UN is developing guidance note on human rights due diligence guidance for its use of digital technology. This process has included consultations with internal and external partners, helping mainstream human rights due diligence and align approaches across the UN system. The guidance, undergoing multiple drafts, aims to be inclusive and address different impacts, especially on gender and intersectionality. It will be considered for implementation across the UN system following feedback and endorsement.
UNHCR is actively applying human rights due diligence in its digital technology use, focusing on complex settings. They have a range of policies and are working on a formal framework to align with international human rights and ethical standards. They have been involved in developing the guidance through case studies and strategic partnerships, and the guidance has evolved to become more implementable. UNHCR plans to incorporate the guidance into their digital strategies.
The World Bank commends the principles-based approach but emphasizes the need to consider different levels of development and maturity among member states, stressing the importance of adapting the guidance to each country's specific context while maintaining universal principles.
Access Now highlights that access to effective remedy is crucial, noting the impact of technologies on marginalized and vulnerable populations. There is a need to build in elements of independent assessment for oversight and accountability reasons. Transparency on the process and practice and continued engagement with civil society are key. Effective enforcement is also a key element to the success of this guidance, as well as transparency in private-public partnerships.
The session concluded with OHCHR emphasizing the need to take seriously the questions raised in the discussion on transparency, independent assessments, and enforcement for the HRDD Policy Working Group to take on board as they implement next stages on the policy guidance.