U.N. Joint Statement RightsCon

Why the U.N. is focusing on digital rights during humanitarian crises

Digital rights violations enable and escalate offline violence, deepening humanitarian crises. The calculated attacks targeting digital systems – essential to people’s safety and wellbeing – are unacceptable. At this critical juncture in history, when human rights violations are rampant from Ukraine to Myanmar, we’ve prepared a new briefing on the 49th session of the United Nations (U.N.) Human Rights Council. The briefing, Digital Rights at the U.N. HRC 49 and Beyond, takes stock of the state of digital rights at the global level, exploring key digital rights issues during this session. It’s aimed at educating delegates on the impact of these issues on human rights, and guiding them in next steps for advancing global norms and standards that will protect human rights. 


While the U.N. Secretary General kicked off the 49th session by decrying the internet for being what he called the “Wild West for human rights,” there was significant progress at the session on a number of digital rights issues. These can become the foundation for future progress. At the same time, we saw a number of missed opportunities. Our briefing offers a set of concrete recommendations for delegates to advance digital rights in each thematic area. 

As we look ahead to the next session of the HRC, we hope to help bring more civil society voices to the U.N. Now, more than ever, world leaders must hear directly from those impacted by the weaponization of the internet against people targeted with persecution, discrimination, human rights abuses, ethnic cleansing, and other atrocities. We hope you join us in advocating for this openness, and help us build a more powerful platform for civil society around the world.

Stay tuned to our work at the U.N. by following Access Now (@accessnow) and Laura O’Brien, our Senior U.N. Advocacy Officer, on Twitter (@lo_brie), and please reach out to us if you’d like to work together.