Briefing note: Human Rights Council 26th session

Publication date: 
June 2014
Deniz Duru Aydin (Access), Deborah Brown and Shawna Finnegan
Association for Progressive Communications

The 26th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC26) will take place in Geneva from 10 to 27 June. This session will include debate on a new resolution on the protection and promotion of human rights online, as well as special panels on racism online and on the safety of journalists. New reports on these topics, as well as violence against women and freedom of association signal a growing focus at the Council of the impact of technology on human rights.

During this session fourteen countries will formally respond to recommendations from their Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR), which took place in January 2014. Five countries received recommendations relating to human rights online: Cambodia, Eritrea and Viet Nam received recommendations to promote and protect freedom of expression and information, access, media ownership and the rights of bloggers, while Macedonia and New Zealand received recommendations to develop strong responses to incitement to hatred and intolerance.

As there is more recognition of the tension in balancing human rights online, we continue to see UN mandate holders including the internet and technology in their work. On June 25th, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance will hold a side event to discuss racism and the internet, including discussion of his annual report.

Almost two years have passed since the HRC’s historic resolution on the “promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet”, which recognised the fundamental principle that “the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online.” Carl Bildt, the Foreign Minister of Sweden, recently announced at the Stockholm Internet Forum that Sweden is “reaching agreement with the partner countries on a new resolution [..] that will focus more on access for new and emerging economies and countries.”

Additionally, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published the results of its consultation on the right to privacy in the digital age, which will inform the High Commissioner’s report on surveillance and privacy that will be published later this year.

The programme of work for this session is available here:

Plenary sessions will be live streamed and archived at:
The Twitter hashtag for the session is #HRC26