We need a UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy!

by Anja Kovacs

The Internet Democracy Project was one of more than ninety organisations supporting an NGO oral statement at the UN Human Rights Council calling for a UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy. The statement was delivered to the UN HRC's 28th ordinary sesion by Article 19.

The UN General Assembly, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and existing special procedure mandate holders have all recognized the pressing need for ongoing, systematic and authoritative monitoring, reporting and guidance on the scope and content of the right to privacy.

The creation of a mandate of Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy would address this urgent need and fill a significant gap in the conceptual and practical understanding of the right to privacy.

This dedicated mandate would play a critical role in developing common understandings on the right to privacy; monitoring and reporting on its implementation; making recommendations and providing authoritative guidance to States and non-state actors, particularly business, to strengthen the protection of individuals’ right to privacy.

Within the UN system, a Special Rapporteur would make an essential contribution to the development of a coherent and complementary approach to the interaction between privacy, freedom of expression and other human rights. It would be a logical, incremental step to the Council’s engagement on this issue, and it would enable the Council to play a leading role in strengthening the promotion and protection of the right to privacy.

To effectively fulfill its role, the new mandate should be able to perform the full range of functions of thematic special procedures, including receiving and seeking information from states and other stakeholders; carrying out country visits; and making recommendations.

Last December, the UN General Assembly encouraged the Council to consider the possibility of establishing a special procedure on the right to privacy. We strongly recommend that the Council takes up this invitation and establishes a Special Rapporteur with a mandate to provide guidance and monitor the implementation of the right to privacy as enshrined in Article 12 of the UDHR and Article 17 of the ICCPR.

Thank you for your attention.

Supported by

  1. Access

  2. Ageia Densi (Colombia )

  3. Alternatives (Canada)

  4. American Civil Liberties Union (U.S.A)

  5. Amnesty International

  6. Article 19

  7. Asociación para una Ciudadanía Participativa – ACI-Participa (Honduras)

  8. Association des droits numériques (Morocco)

  9. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression(AFTE) (Egypt)

  10. Association for Progressive Communications

  11. Australian Privacy Foundation (Australia)

  12. Australian Section of the International Commission of Jurists (Australia)

  13. Bits for Freedom (Netherlands)

  14. BlueLink​.net (Bulgaria)

  15. Brennan Center for Justice (U.S.A)

  16. Bytes for All (Pakistan)

  17. Canadian Civil Liberties Association (Canada)

  18. Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) (Canada)

  19. Center for Democracy and Technology (U.S.A)

  20. Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University Delhi (India)

  21. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) (Argentina)

  22. Coding Rights (Brazil)

  23. Coletivo Digital (Brazil)

  24. Colombian Commission of Jurists (Colombia)

  25. Conectas (Brazil)

  26. Contingente Mx (Mexico)

  27. Cyber Law Centre (Indonesia)

  28. Dejusticia (Colombia)

  29. Derechos Digitales (Chile)

  30. Digital Empowerment Foundation (India)

  31. Digital Rights Foundation (Pakistan)

  32. Digitale Gesellschaft e.V. (Germany)

  33. Dutch Section of the International Commission of Jurists (the Netherlands)

  34. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (Egypt)

  35. Electronic Frontier Foundation

  36. Electronic Privacy Information Center

  37. Enjambre Digital (Mexico)

  38. eQualit​.ie (Canada)

  39. European Digital Rights (EDRi)

  40. Foundacion Karisma (Colombia)

  41. German Section of the International Commission of Jurists (Germany)

  42. GreenNet (U.K.)

  43. Hiperderecho (Peru)

  44. Human Rights Law Network (India)

  45. Human Rights Watch

  46. Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (Hungary)

  47. Ibidem – Instituto Brasileiro para Internet e Democracia (Brazil)

  48. Instituto Bem Estar (Brazil)

  49. Instituto de Defesa do Consumidor – IDEC (Brazil)

  50. Instituto de Tecnologia e Sociedade – ITS (Brazil)

  51. Instituto Nupef (Brazil)

  52. International Commission of Jurists

  53. International Commission of Jurists – Norway (Norway)

  54. International Federation for Human Rights

  55. International Modern Media Institute

  56. Internet Democracy Project (India)

  57. Internet Lab Brazil (Brazil)

  58. Internet Society Serbia Belgrade Chapter (Serbia)

  59. Intervozes (Brazil)

  60. Ipandetec (Panama)

  61. Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM)

  62. Irish Council for Civil Liberties (Ireland)

  63. Jonction (Senegal)

  64. Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) (Kenya)

  65. Korea Center for United Nations Human Rights Policy (KOCUN) (Republic of Korea)

  66. Korean Progressive Network – Jinbonet (Republic of Korea)

  67. LAVITS: Rede latino-americana de estudos sobre vigilância, tecnologia e sociedade (Brazil)

  68. Legal Resources Centre (LRC) (South Africa)

  69. Liberty (U.K.)

  70. May First/​People Link (U.S.A.)

  71. New America’s Open Technology Institute (U.S.A.)

  72. Odhikar (Bangladesh)

  73. OneWorld Platform for Southeast Europe – OWPSEE (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

  74. Open​Media​.org (Canada/​Global)

  75. Open Rights Group

  76. Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

  77. Pen International

  78. Polish Section of the International Commission of Jurists (Poland)

  79. Privacy International

  80. PROTESTE – Associação de Consumidores (Brazil)

  81. Public Knowledge (U.S.A.)

  82. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Europe

  83. Soweto iLab (South Africa)

  84. Statewatch

  85. Swedish Section of the International Commission of Jurists (Sweden)

  86. Swiss section of the International Commission of Jurists (Switzerland)

  87. TEDIC (Paraguay)

  88. Unwanted Witness (Uganda)

  89. Usuarios Digitales (Ecuador)

  90. Web Foundation


  92. Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (Zimbabwe)

  93. JustNet Coalition (International)

  94. Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus (International)

  95. iNGO European Media Platform (Europe)