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Tuesday, November 30 • 10:25am - 11:40am
Building blocks for tech regulation – a Business & Human Rights approach

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Session organized by OHCHR B-Tech Project in cooperation with the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Brief description of the session:
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. States should consider the “full range of permissible preventative and remedial measures, including policies, legislation, regulations and adjudication” (UNGP1). Pillar I of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) reflects human rights obligations that states have under international human rights law. 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, B-Tech is consulting on the idea of a so-called “UNGPs check” that would serve as a tool to inform engagement with policy makers. The “UNGPs check” aims at guiding the legislative process and inform the design of tech regulation to foster rights-respecting regulatory frameworks.
Key objectives of the session:
  • 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

Key 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?

Background to the discussion:
The B-Tech Project will contribute to addressing the urgent need to find principled and pragmatic ways to prevent and address human rights harms connected with the development of digital technologies and their use by corporate, government and non-governmental actors, including individual users. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) provide a comprehensive and authoritative framework that can inform efforts by a range of actors, including governments and companies, to identify, prevent, mitigate and remedy human rights harm related to digital technologies. The premise of the B-Tech Project is that using the lens of all three pillars – Protect, Respect, Remedy - of the UNGPs can help clarify the respective roles and responsibilities of States and the private sector in relation to specific issues.

Background documents and relevant links:

avatar for Lene Wendland

Lene Wendland

Chief Business and Human Rights, OHCHR
Lene Wendland is Chief of the Business and Human Rights Unit in UN Human Rights and leads UN Human Rights’ thematic work on business and human rights. She was part of the team of former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights, Professor John... Read More →

avatar for Anita Ramasastry

Anita Ramasastry

miembro, Grupo de Trabajo sobre las empresas y los derechos humanos
Sra. Anita Ramasastry es la profesora Roland L. Hjorth de Derecho y Directora del Programa de Posgrado en Desarrollo Internacional Sostenible en la Escuela de Derecho de la Universidad de Washington. Investiga y enseña en los ámbitos de la justicia y el desarrollo, la lucha contra... Read More →
avatar for Abdul Z. Abdulrahim

Abdul Z. Abdulrahim

Univeristy of Oxford, Stears
avatar for Sebastian Smart

Sebastian Smart

Regional Director, INDH Chile
avatar for Giovanni De Gregorio

Giovanni De Gregorio

University of Oxford
avatar for Imane Bello

Imane Bello

Paris Bar, Lawyer
Imane Bello is a lawyer at the Paris Bar.She mainly advises on compliance and artificial intelligence (governance, risk management, ethics), human and digital rights as well as digital criminal law and personal data protection. Imane Bello teaches ethics and politics of artificial... Read More →

Tuesday November 30, 2021 10:25am - 11:40am CET
Virtual Plenary room