National Human Rights Institutions as Digital Rights Watchdogs


Line Gamrath Rasmussen, The Danish Institute for Human Rights (IMR)

About the Action Coalition

Digitalisation has strong human rights implications – both positive and negative as digital technologies are finding its way into many of the areas that “traditional” duty-bearers were implementing and overseeing, such as facial recognition in policing; AI based profiling models in individual case handling and recruitment in the public sector; information distribution through social media by authorities; internet banking; digital identity systems etc. These trends pose several human rights challenges, which human rights organisations, including NHRIs, need to address. However, their capacity to respond is rather limited. Reasons for lack of such human rights response are various, including lack of capacity, expertise or awareness. An operational Digital Rights Coalition will support NHRIs in getting empowered to raise to this challenge.

Output during Year of Action

  1. Reflection tool on NHRI mandate areas in the context of digitalisation (lead by DIHR, with input from NHRIs interested): first draft version ready by June 2022; the tool launched by December 2022.
  2. Session at RightsCon on tech and NHRI mandate areas of legal review and complaints-handling (together with the UN B-tech project).
  3. Ad-hoc activities identified by members throughout 2022.
  • The Danish Institute for Human Rights (IMR)
Past events
09 Jun11:45 am - 12:45 pm

Developing a tool to support national human rights institutions (NHRIs) become digital rights watchdogs

The session will seek to answer the key questions:

What do NHRIs need to be aware of to make their legal review practices more adequate to include digital rights?

How can NHRIs collaborate with external partners to improve legal review regarding digital rights and/or assist implementation of laws targeting company conduct within the technology sector?

How can the NHRI complaints-handling mandate supplement redress mechanisms already established and how can mechanisms be developed to bridge the gaps?

We seek the input from:

Civil society: How can NHRIs become more attentive to digital rights when executing these two mandate areas?

NHRIs: what are your experiences and needs in fulfilling your mandate concerning digital rights?

Private sector: How can NHRIs supplement the access to remedy pillar of the UNGPs?

Host institution: Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) | United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), B-Tech Project

NB. The event is part of RightsCon. RightsCon is the world’s leading summit on human rights in the digital age. To attend the conference you need to register. Go to to check out the different options.