Event information

30 November 2021, 10:25-11:40

Building Blocks for Tech Regulation – A Business and Human Rights Approach

Event

Silhouette in front of a screen Silhouette in front of a screen

The state duty to protect against human rights abuses by business, including from the tech sector, requires states to adopt appropriate measures to prevent and address such abuses.

According to Pillar I of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) – which reflects human rights obligations that states have under international human rights law –, states should consider the ‘full range of permissible preventative and remedial measures, including policies, legislation, regulations and adjudication’. Therefore, the UNGPs provide a useful roadmap for governments in addressing technology-related human rights issues. Through a smart-mix of measures, the state has a critical role in ensuring good corporate conduct, facilitating multi-stakeholder engagement, and driving the corporate responsibility to respect through measures that foster the uptake of human rights due diligence among technology companies.

As regulatory efforts to require technology companies to respect human rights intensify worldwide, the OHCHR B-Tech project and the Geneva Academy are consulting on the idea of a so-called ‘UNGPs check’. Aimed at guiding the legislative process and at informing the design of tech regulation to foster rights-respecting regulatory frameworks, it would serve as a tool to inform engagement with policymakers.

This panel at the 2021 United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights – co-organized with OHCHR B-Tech project – will:

  • Discuss the regulatory landscape: approaches by states aiming at protecting human rights in the context of digital technologies and with regard to business conduct
  • Consult on the drafting of building blocks for regulatory options for states to incentivize the tech sector to fulfill their responsibility to respect human rights.

Panelists will notably address the following questions:

  • How can the UNGPs inform the development of regulation that aims at addressing tech company-related human rights abuses arising in the context of rapid technological transformation?
  • What should be the building blocks of a legislative process for addressing adverse human rights impacts stemming from technology company conduct?

Moderation

  • Lene Wendland, Chief, Business and Human Rights, OHCHR

Panelists

  • Anita Ramasastry, Member, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
  • Owen Bennett, Mozilla
  • Abdul Z. Abdulrahim, University of Oxford, Stears
  • Sebastian Smart, Regional Director, Instituto Nacional de Derechos Humanos, Chile
  • Diana Vlad Calcic
  • Giovanni De Gregorio, University of Oxford
  • Imane Bello, Paris Bar, Lawyer

Background to the Discussion

This event forms part of our research project on disruptive technologies and rights-based resilience – funded by the Geneva Science-Policy Interface – that aims at supporting the development of regulatory and policy responses to human rights challenges linked to digital technologies.

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