3 Jul 2019
12:00 - 13:00
Room XV, Palais des Nations, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix, Geneva


[Update] Read here the report from this session.

Read the concept note for the panel discussion.

Panel discussion during the 41st session of the Human Rights Council

Digital technologies continue to transform almost every facet of our lives. Innovations are shaping our democracies through impact on political participation and electoral processes, reshaping access to education, re-framing employment and notions of the workplace, revolutionising healthcare, stimulating communities within civil society and galvanising greater activism, and fostering new opportunities for economic development.

Notwithstanding the many positive effects of such a transformation, the pace of change, rapid advancement, and swift implementation of many new technologies have to date highlighted significant concerns as to whether the existing framework at the international level to protect and promote human rights is apt to confront the nascent challenges society must resolve.

This panel discussion, co-organised by the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the United Nations Special Procedures, and the Geneva Internet Platform (as part of its Geneva Digital Talks), will generate a debate and draw attention to current challenges in the digital sphere. It also seeks to foster interest in developing effective strategies and methodologies that may serve to address future issues stemming from digitisation and advancements in tech and determine how best we can oversee the implementation of digital technologies so that they continue to realise their best possible contribution to the full enjoyment of human rights.

Panellists will notably:

  • Exchange views with regard to strengthening understanding among states, the tech industry, civil society, and academia as to how innovations in digital technologies are re-framing current conceptual approaches to human rights
  • Identify opportunities for states, civil society, and other relevant stakeholders to determine effective strategic approaches to facilitate preparation for the future impact of emerging digital technologies
  • Provide practical suggestions on how to expand and accelerate more impactful research on the interaction of digital technologies with human rights, developing the existing discussions currently considering specific themes and technologies
  • Identify and elaborate on the role of new tools and methodologies that could potentially assist in the assessment of the human rights’ impact of digital technologies.


Clément Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association

Jonathan Andrew, Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Yuval Shany, Vice-Chair, UN Human Rights Committee and Hersch Lauterpacht Chair in Public International Law, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Jovan Kurbalija, Executive Director, Secretariat of the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation


Stephanie Borg Psaila, Interim Director, Diplo Foundation and Geneva Internet Platform

A summary report on the discussions held and recommendations made during the panel discussion will be published after the discussion.

The Geneva Internet Platform is an initiative of the Swiss authorities


Members of the Steering Committee are FDFA, OFCOM, Canton of Geneva, ETH-Zürich, and the University of Geneva

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