Czechia joins international pledge to uphold human rights in digital sphere

Speaking at the UN, Foreign Minister Lipavský emphasized that new technologies should protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.


Written by ČTK Published on 21.09.2023 11:16:00 (updated on 21.09.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czechia, together with South Africa, the Maldives, Mexico, and the Netherlands, will submit a resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of digital technologies to the UN General Assembly Third Committee, known as the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský said yesterday.

Speaking at a Freedom Online Coalition event convened in New York, Lipavský said the resolution aims to build a basic consensus on the application of human rights in the context of modern technologies and also addresses their impact on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly or access to information.

Lipavský said the topic of human rights in the digital sphere is high on the list of Czech foreign policy priorities. According to him, new technologies can significantly contribute to the development, protection, and promotion of human rights, but they also bring serious and specific challenges.

It is therefore necessary to focus on the protection of human rights in the digital space along with the ongoing digitization and development of new technologies, he said.

Governments, civil society, and the private sector must protect the fundamental pillars of a democratic society, or human rights and the rule of law, and apply the international human rights framework both offline and online, Lipavský said. 

This is why it was necessary to focus on ensuring that digital policy and technology development act as tools to facilitate the enforcement of rights and are consistent with development policies. "Digitalization must serve the people, not the other way around," Lipavský said.

Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman Daniel Drake said Czech diplomacy has the ambition to be more active in the U.S., a reason why it is running for the UN Security Council (UNSC) for 2032 and 2033.

The Czech Republic was a non-permanent member of the UNSC from 1994 to 1995. In a 2007 contest, it lost to Croatia. Also in its commitments to the current membership of the UN Human Rights Council, the Czech Republic pledged to address digital challenges and promote a human-centered and human rights-based approach.

Lipavský said Czechia was "actively engaged in the ongoing negotiations on a new regulation of artificial intelligence in the EU," and "working in the framework of the Council of Europe" to elaborate "a legally binding instrument on the impact of AI on human rights."

The event took place on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly, which Lipavský is attending as part of Czech President Petr Pavel's delegation. Also today, he signed the Global Declaration on Information Integrity Online. 

On Monday, Lipavský attended a meeting on the Middle East Peace Process and an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers, before which he met with his counterparts from Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. Together with President Pavel, Lipavsky also held talks with UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

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