Promotion and protection of digital rights: a pathway to the digital future

Thursday, 12th October, 2023 (02:30 UTC) - Thursday, 12th October, 2023 (03:00 UTC)
WS 6 – Room E


  • Peggy Hicks, Director of the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division of the UN Human Rights Office.
  • Peter Mariën, Team Leader Digital Governance, DG International Partnerships,  European Commission


The collaboration between the EU and the UN Human Rights Office on the “Promotion and protection of digital rights: a pathway to the digital future” will be presented for the first time at IGF 2023. 

The European Union (EU) and the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) share the ambition of maximizing the positive impact of digital technologies for humanity while mitigating potential risks. They are committed to safeguarding individuals' rights, promoting active participation in the digital sphere, and ensuring a secure and safe digital environment. These principles, encapsulated in the European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles, underscore the fundamental basis provided by international human rights to address the complexities emerging in our digital era.

The UN Human Rights Office utilizes its global influence to spotlight the human rights dimensions of digital technologies, safeguard online civic space, and democracy. The universally agreed human rights framework, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), is highly relevant in addressing these concerns, yet balancing competing rights and swiftly evolving technologies remains a challenge.

Aligning with these priorities, the EU and the UN Human Rights Office propose an Action to address key digital age challenges, leveraging its unique capabilities at the intersection of digital technologies and rights: “Promotion and protection of digital rights: a pathway to the digital future”. 

The proposed action involves collaboration within the United Nations, engagement with States and Companies in regulating digital technologies, technical standard-setting bodies, and civil society reliant on digital technology. It aims to enhance governance of the digital ecosystem, fostering digital civic space and responsible technology development and use, to improve digital rights and development goals.

This action will focus on three areas:  

  1. The UN System-Wide Human Rights Due Diligence Guidance for Digital Technologies
  2. Expanding the integration and application of digital rights by States and Tech Companies
  3. Technical standard-setting and human rights

Expected outcome

The EU and the UN Human Rights Office are teaming up on the "Promotion and Protection of Digital Rights: Paving the Way to the Digital Future," which will debut at the IGF. Both organizations view this multistakeholder platform as an excellent opportunity to showcase their endeavours in advancing digital rights.

Country representatives, partner nations, civil society organizations (CSOs), academia, and other stakeholders are encouraged to join this session to gain deeper insights into this collaborative partnership.