GeSI Staff Published Date: 2018-05-17,

On May 8, GeSI welcomed members and stakeholders to our Brussels office, for the pre-launch event of our forthcoming report on The Enabling Potential for ICT to Support Human Rights. The event was organized as part of our ongoing work on the role that digital solutions can have on #EnablingRights, exploring the ways in which they can contribute to people’s needs.

The dialogue on human rights and the ICT industry has so far focused mainly on the sector’s own responsibilities and relationships, and a number of initiatives already exist in these areas. The GeSI Human Rights Committee felt it was the right time to add a third dimension to the debate, that of the enabling potential of ICT.

Similar to what GeSI did with our SMART series on the enabling potential of ICT for climate action, the #EnablingRights work is exploring the ways in which the sector can support human rights and which technologies can have the greatest impact.

The Brussels event was the first of two consultation sessions to get feedback from a broader range of stakeholders: on May 8, we presented the key findings of the report so far and discussed with industry experts, policymakers, and civil society the barriers to address and the key issues that the industry needs to be aware of. A second session will take place in New York City on June 7.

We heard how new, inclusive business models and ethical innovation will need to be part of responsible businesses’ practices; how rights-based approaches need to be designed to last and continue delivering in the long term; and how digital divide will need to be addressed, both in terms of access and connectivity and in terms of digital literacy.

The meeting confirmed the great importance of the industry work in this area: our keynote speaker John Morrison, Chief Executive of the Institute for Human Rights and Business, reminded us that with great opportunity comes great responsibility (read John’s complete keynote here). Digital is transforming the world, and consequently the way we approach people’s rights: GeSI and the digital sector can make a fundamental difference in this space for the good. GeSI’s leading initiative on #EnablingRights will make sure we don’t miss this chance.

We would like to thank again all the participants and experts as well as the GeSI members who attended this event, and we look forward to continuing our dialogue with all interested stakeholders.

The #EnablingRights report will be released in the summer. For further information, you can download the preview here or contact Pictures from the Brussels event can be browsed here, and information on the NYC session is available here


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