Privacy and electronic surveillance: discussion at the UN Human Rights Council

ICJ supported a joint written statement by civil society organizations  highlighting threats to privacy and other human rights engendered by electronic surveillance, and calling for the establishment of a UN mechanism on the issue, as the UN Human Rights Council discussed the issue in Geneva.

The organizations urge the Council to establish a dedicated special procedure mandate on the right to privacy for the following reasons:

  • A dedicated mandate holder would play a critical role in developing common understandings and furthering a considered and substantive interpretation of the right across a variety of settings, as recommended by the report. A dedicated mandate holder would also be an independent expert, allowing for a neutral articulation of the application of the right to privacy that draws on the input of all stakeholders.
  • Establishing a separate mandate for privacy would allow for the development of a coherent and complementary approach to the interaction between privacy, freedom of expression, and other rights.
  • A dedicated mandate holder would help assess the implementation by state and non-state actors of their applicable international responsibilities and obligations in a sustained and systematic way. Functions should include carrying out country visits; collecting best practices; receiving and seeking information from states, businesses, and other stakeholders; and issuing recommendations.


The full written statement, submitted by Human Rights Watch and endorsed by the other organisations, can be downloaded here (ICJ-UN-HRC27-JointStatementPrivacy-12092014) in PDF format.