New ICJ briefing paper on the human rights legal framework applicable to digital technologies

In a briefing paper released today, the International Commission of Jurists points out that, “while new digital technology may be helpful for the protection of human rights, it also carries real and potential negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights”. This paper aims to contribute to the understanding of the international human rights legal framework applicable to the design, development and use of new digital technologies.

This will be a useful tool in advocacy efforts aimed at reforming legal and policy frameworks applicable to the design and application of such technologies in a way that is congruent with human rights.

Digital technology, which has as primary applications, social media and the internet, comprises a growing set of newly and rapidly developing technologies that include artificial intelligence, virtual reality, quantum computing and others. The publication of a number of reports and studies, many in the context of the UN human rights system, has helped us in understanding the human rights challenges faced by the growing use of digital technologies. However, because of the nature, novelty and ongoing development of technological innovation, the applicable human rights legal framework usually receives, in comparison, less attention than policy frameworks which do not incorporate a rights-based approach.

This briefing paper was researched and written by ICJ Senior Legal Adviser, Carlos Lopez, with research support from interns, Andra Nicolescu and Manon Blancafort. Legal review was provided by ICJ Legal and Policy Director, Ian Seiderman.


Carlos Lopez, Senior Legal Adviser, Business and Human Rights at the International Commission of Jurists, e:


Briefing Paper: Digital Technologies and Human Rights – A Legal Framework