Talk:Human Rights in the Digital Era: Europe’s Role in Safeguarding Human Rights Online – TOPIC 01 Sub 01 2024

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Human Rights in the Digital Era:

Europe’s Role in Safeguarding Human Rights Online

In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, establishing the rights that every person inherently possesses from birth regardless of nationality, gender, ethnic origin, religion, language, or any other condition.

With the increasing presence of new technologies and digitization, we are now at a new juncture that requires rethinking these rights, evaluating whether it is necessary to expand them or implement new mechanisms to ensure the fulfillment of human rights in the digital world.

Are human rights respected in the digital world?

According to the Eurobarometer of the Digital Decade, only 57% of respondents were aware that human rights should also be respected online. Likewise, one in three respondents believed that the EU does not adequately protect their rights in the digital environment. Regarding the areas they considered priorities for action by the EU and Member States, respondents highlighted: protection of users against cyberattacks (30%), protection against misinformation and illegal content (26%), and support for digital skills training programs (17%).

Grounding these ideas, the deficit in these areas can be associated with a deficit in the complete guarantee of certain human rights, specifically Articles 12 (protection of privacy, as well as attacks on the honor or reputation of individuals), 19 (freedom of expression), and 26 (right to education) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

What is being done in Europe?

1) Is the EU taking into consideration the European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles when developing new digital regulation?

2) How can Europe influence third parties to further safeguard human rights online, including the rights of children and other vulnerable or disadvantaged groups?

Recognizing the deficits in guaranteeing human rights in the digital world, in mid-2021, two Member States adopted their own digital rights initiatives. On the one hand, Spain developed a Digital Rights Charter as a roadmap for the action of public authorities and aims to serve as a guide for future legislative projects. On the other hand, Portugal adopted the Portuguese Charter of Human Rights in the Digital Age as a legislative text to guarantee the protection of the online population.

Following these two national milestones, in 2022, the EU adopted the European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles to achieve a "secure, safe, and sustainable digital transformation that places people at the center, in line with the EU's fundamental values and rights."

The variety of initiatives and the lack of specific mechanisms with which to implement them can lead to fragmentation in Europe in ensuring human rights online. In this sense, 86% of the European population think that cooperation among Member States is important for ensuring that digital technologies respect fundamental rights and European values.


This session aims to address the question: How is Europe safeguarding human rights in the digital era? Key participants will provide their perspectives on the initiatives developed in Europe at both national and regional levels, and will examine whether these rights and principles are effectively considered in the development of new regulations. Additionally, hand in hand with the work being done in the Council of Europe, the session will discuss how European values influence the promotion of digital human rights around the world.

Key participants:

  • Dennis Redeker, founding member of the interdisciplinary Digital Constitutionalism Network and member of the Steering Committee of the Internet Rights and Principles Coalition (confirmed)
  • Ana Cristina Amoroso das Neves, Head of the Internet Governance Office PT Foundation for Science and Technology, Vice-Chair of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development, and Chair of the DNS.PT Advisory Board (confirmed)
  • Esteve Sanz, Head of Sector, Internet Governance and Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue at European Commission (TBC)
  • Melanie Kubin-Hardewig, Vice President, Group Corporate Responsibility at Deutsche Telekom (TBC)


  • (Confirmed) Lucien Castex, Representative for public policy of AFNIC and associate researcher at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle
  • (Confirmed) Isabel María Álvaro Alonso, Member of IGF Youth Spain and Junior Manager of Digital Public Policy at Telefónica