OHCHR Seeks Stakeholder Inputs for Report on Human Rights and Digital Technical Standard-Setting

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Mr. Volker Türk
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is inviting inputs from relevant stakeholders to inform the report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the relationship between human rights and technical standard-setting processes for new and emerging digital technologies at its 53rd session in 2023.

The Human Rights Council on July 13, 2021, adopted resolution 47/23 on “New and emerging digital technologies and human rights” in which the operative paragraph 3 of the resolution requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights “to convene an expert consultation to discuss the relationship between human rights and technical standard-setting processes for new and emerging digital technologies” and “to submit a report thereon, reflecting the discussions held in an inclusive and comprehensive manner, to the Human Rights Council at its fifty-third session.”

The OHCHR now invites all relevant stakeholders to provide inputs for the preparation of the thematic report.

The questions below, though not exhaustive, indicate areas of particular interest for the drafting of the report:

  • How do technical standards for new and emerging digital technologies impact the enjoyment of human rights; what are related risks and opportunities?
  • What are examples that best illustrate the relationship between technical standards for new and emerging digital technologies and human rights?
  • What are the duties and responsibilities of standard setting organizations and their stakeholders in effectively integrating human rights considerations in technical standard-setting processes for new and emerging digital technologies?
  • Which standard-setting processes and organizations are particularly relevant for safeguarding and promoting human rights in the context of new and emerging digital technologies?
  • What are common obstacles to effectively integrating human rights considerations in technical standard-setting processes for new and emerging digital technologies?
  • How accessible are standard-setting processes and processes for new and emerging digital technologies for a broad range of stakeholders, in particular for civil society organizations and human rights experts? By which metrics is “access” measured in this context?
  • What are the challenges faced by various stakeholders in their meaningful and sustainable participation in technical standard-setting processes for new and emerging digital technologies?
  • In which ways do these challenges differ depending on the standard-setting organization concerned?
  • What are good practices, mechanisms or models for effective integration of human rights considerations in technical standard-setting processes? Are there particular challenges in their implementation or adoption? What additional measures should be developed and implemented?

Additional guiding questions for standard setting organizations include:

  • Please describe whether your standard-setting organization has carried out any process to determine potential human rights risks associated with the development of technical standards and processes.
  • If an assessment has been made under the previous question, please briefly describe the results of the assessment.
  • Has your standard-setting organization or members adopted a due diligence or transparency policy? If so, please attach the policy or describe its main elements and describe what measures have been taken to integrate the policy in your standard-setting processes.
  • Please describe the measures taken by your organization to ameliorate the human rights risks associated with technical standard setting in specific areas.
  • What are the conditions for participation in your standard setting processes?
  • Have you taken or are you planning to take proactive measures to facilitate participation by a broad range of stakeholders? If so, please describe those measures.

The input subject line should be: Input for Report on technical standards and human rights in Word and PDF format. It is recommended that the word limit should not to exceed 4,000 words. Additional supporting materials, such as reports, academic studies, and other types of background materials may be annexed to the submission.

Inputs may be sent by e-mail: ohchr-technical-standards@un.org  and registry@ohchr.org  or postal: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Office at Geneva, CH 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland by 3 March 2023.