International Rights Organizations Call for UN to Appoint Expert on Right to Privacy


Access joined 62 other non-governmental organizations in calling for the United Nations Human Rights Council to appoint a new, independent expert on the right to privacy on Monday. The letter recommends a mandate of exploring the scope and content of the right to privacy and for the expert to provide guidance to ensure that states and companies implement and enforce the right. The letter reads in part:

The current lack of a dedicated thematic special procedure on the right to privacy hinders the capacity of the [Human Rights Council] to provide leadership in protecting and promoting this right, particularly as modern technologies are enabling interferences with privacy on an unprecedented scale. A Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy would fill this significant institutional gap and enable the HRC to take a leading role in identifying and clarifying principles, standards and best practices regarding the promotion and protection of the right to privacy. The mandate would be able to systematically monitor and assess the impact of the right to privacy by state and non-state actors, as well the implementation of their obligations and responsibilities. He or she would also play a critical role in better articulating the content of the right to privacy and provide needed guidance to states and companies on its interpretation.

Special procedures are empowered by human rights bodies to provide a wide range of services, including documenting best practices; receiving and seeking information from states, businesses, and other actors; carrying out country visits; leading and participating in consultation with relevant stakeholders; and making recommendations. The positions are typically unpaid.

The letter follows a similar call at the UN General Assembly, passed in December 2014, pointing to the need for long-term, expert attention on the right to privacy. At its 28th regular session this month, the Human Rights Council will consider a resolution co-authored by Brazil and Germany to create the new position.

You can read the full letter here.

credit: Peter M on Flickr (not the author of this post)