For further information about the 9th UN Forum on business and human rights, please visit the Forum webpage

Register for the Forum on business and human rights here
Back To Schedule
Monday, November 16 • 16:00 - 17:15
UN Human Rights B-Tech Project: A smart mix of measures for the responsible use of technology in re-building the global economy

Log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

Feedback form is now closed.

Session organized by OHCHR B-Tech Project in cooperation with GANHRI

Brief description of the session 
The State duty to protect against human rights abuses by business including from the tech sector requires states to adopt appropriate measures to prevent and address such abuses. States should consider the “full range of permissible preventative and remedial measures, including policies, legislation, regulations and adjudication” (UNGP1). Pillar I of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) Pillar I reflects human rights obligations that states have under international human rights law. Therefore, the UNGPs provide a useful roadmap for governments in addressing technology-related human rights issues. Building back better needs to focus on those individuals and communities most at risk. Through a smart-mix of measures, the State has a critical role in ensuring good corporate conduct, facilitating multi-stakeholder engagement, and driving the corporate responsibility to respect through measures that foster the uptake of human rights due diligence among technology companies. In line with the State duty to protect Human Rights, States should take effective action to prevent and ensure remedy for harm connected to the conduct of technology companies

Key objectives of the session 
  •  Discuss the “smart mix of measures” in line with the State duty to protect human rights in the context of digital technologies
  • Exploring regulatory and policy options for States to incentivize the tech sector to fulfill their responsibility to respect human rights through a “smart mix of measures” addressing adverse human rights impacts in the technology sector
  • Outline the role of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in the “smart mix of measures” for promoting the respect for human rights in the technology sector
  • Identifying examples of selected States‘ attempts to address these issues in their NAPs or domestic policy
  • Discussing examples of policy incentives for rights-respecting business conduct in the tech sector and examples of responsible public procurement processes for digital products/services

Key questions  
  • How can the UNGPs strengthen the responsible development and use of technology to prevent human rights abuses arising in the context of rapid technological transformation?
  • What could a smart-mix of measures look like for addressing adverse human rights impacts stemming from the use of technology when building back the global economy?
  • How can mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence and/or National Action Plans or Business and Human Rights foster human rights in the technology sector?
  • What is the role of NHRIs in influencing public policies aimed at fostering company and investor performance and uptake of robust human rights policies, due diligence processes, and grievance mechanisms in the technology sector?

Background to the discussion 
In line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, States must recognize international human rights law as the foundation for governing the development and use of digital technology. The B-Tech Project will contribute to addressing the urgent need to find principled and pragmatic ways to prevent and address human rights harms connected with the development of digital technologies and their use by corporate, government and non-governmental actors, including individual users. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) provide a comprehensive and authoritative framework that can inform efforts by a range of actors, including governments and companies, to identify, prevent, mitigate and remedy human rights harm related to digital technologies. The premise of the B-Tech Project is that using the lens of all three pillars – Protect, Respect, Remedy - of the UNGPs can help clarify the respective roles and responsibilities of States and the private sector in relation to specific issues.
The pandemic of Covid-19 has shown that technology can play a vital role in managing public health, yet the use of technological solutions in the state-business nexus comes with opportunities and challenges that need to be managed responsibly. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated a range of inequalities and vulnerabilities that are present in most current business models, including in the tech industry. The UNGPs provide a useful roadmap for tackling technology-related human rights issues from a government perspective. The experiences and insights emerging from the use of technology for managing the pandemic can offer important lessons for governing adverse human rights impacts of technological use responsibly in other daily business settings and future crisis-scenarios.

The German Institute for Human Rights has recently published a study about the corporate responsibility of technology companies to respect human rights in the data economy.

avatar for Lene Wendland

Lene Wendland

Chief, Business and Human Rights, OHCHR
Lene Wendland is Chief of the Business and Human Rights Unit in UN Human Rights. She was part of the team of former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights, Professor John Ruggie, and contributed to the development and drafting of the UN Guiding... Read More →

avatar for Deniz Utlu

Deniz Utlu

Senior Policy Advisor / Chair, German Institute for Human Rights / Business and human rights working group of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions
Deniz Utlu is a Senior Policy Advisor at the German Institute for Human Rights in the field of business and human rights, currently chairing the business and human rights working group of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions. His special areas of focus include... Read More →
avatar for Eva Grambye

Eva Grambye

Head of International Division & Deputy Executive Director, Danish Institute for Human Rights
avatar for Remy Friedmann

Remy Friedmann

Senior Advisor, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
Rémy Friedmann is Senior Advisor on business and human rights at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs since 2011.He was also the chair, between 2014 and 2019, of the Board of Directors of the association of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service... Read More →
avatar for Gbenga Sesan

Gbenga Sesan

Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative
‘Gbenga Sesan is the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise working on digital inclusion and digital rights through its offices in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe. He is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Digital Civil Society... Read More →
avatar for Yves Nissim

Yves Nissim

VP Head of transformation and operation in CSR, Orange
Yves is deputy Chief CSR Officer of the Orange Group. His main field of expertise is Group CSR transformation, CSR reporting for the Group, stake holder dialogue and Human rights. He has carried Stake holder dialogue based on Orange CSR Strategy, in the main countries of the Orange... Read More →

Monday November 16, 2020 16:00 - 17:15 CET
Virtual Room 2