Neurotechnology and Human Rights

Started in August 2023

Context

This project addresses the human rights implications stemming from the development of neurotechnology for commercial, non-therapeutic ends.

These implications include direct externalities (violation of the rights to privacy, property, freedom from discrimination etc.) and indirect externalities (spillovers for social cohesion, equality and inter-group tolerance). As corporate actors become the main producers and disseminators of neurotechnology, managing these risks will require enhanced multilateral cooperation towards the development of a common regulatory framework. A key challenge in this regard is the complex nature of neurotechnology coupled with the traditional ‘siloing’ between human rights, neuroscience and corporate communities of practice.

Objective

To overcome these barriers, this project – supported by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) – is based on a partnership between the Geneva Academy, the Geneva University Neurocentre and the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) Advisory Committee.

It aims at empowering key stakeholders with a common understanding of the principal risks with a view to strengthening the international human rights framework and crafting effective regulation.

In terms of methodology, the project will work with a pluri-disciplinary group of ethicists, technologists, human rights practitioners, conflict specialists and social economists to provide technical guidance, brainstorm solutions and validate the work of the core research team.

The findings will directly feed into (i) the report to the HRC at its 59th session and (ii) the development of soft law guidelines on the development and use of neurotechnology in conformity with human rights.

Dissemination and sensitization will separately target states, academia and the technology and corporate sectors with a view to these groups incorporating human rights perspectives into their innovation practices, product development and internal regulatory frameworks.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

A person with a portable brain scanner News

New Paper Sets the Scene for Neurotechnology Regulation and the Role of Human Rights

4 December 2023

Our new Research Brief The Evolving Neurotechnology Landscape: Examining the Role and Importance of Human Rights in Regulation provides a comprehensive background analysis on the complexities of regulating neurotechnology and the role of human rights in this process and marks the inception of our research project on neurotechnology and human rights.

Read more >

RESEARCHERS

Portrait of Jonathan Andrew

Jonathan Andrew

Research Fellow

Dr Andrew conducts research on the nexus of human rights law with the development of neurotechnologies, emerging issues stemming from new technologies’ use in the military domain, and the deployment of dual-use technologies by law enforcement.

Milena Costas

Milena Costas

Research Fellow

Milena Costas is a human rights expert and law-practitioner and a member of the UN Human Rights Council’s Advisory Committee.

Portrait of Timo Istache

Timo Istace

Associate Researcher

His areas of expertise encompass human rights law, medical law, philosophy of law, and bioethics.

Publications

Cover page of the Research Brief

The Evolving Neurotechnology Landscape: Examining the Role and Importance of Human Rights in Regulation

December 2023

Erica Harper

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Cover page of the Research Brief Publication

The Evolving Neurotechnology Landscape: Examining the Role and Importance of Human Rights in Regulation

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Read more