On 1 April 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on countering the impact of disinformation on the enjoyment and realisation of human rights.
The Resolution notes that disinformation “is a threat to democracy that can suppress political engagement, engender or deepen distrust towards democratic institutions and processes and hinder the realization of informed participation in political and public affairs.” It further notes that disinformation can erode other civil liberties and fuel hatred, racism, and xenophobia, and exacerbate gender inequality.
The Resolution, among other things, calls on states to:
- Ensure that their responses to the spread of disinformation comply with international human rights law and that their efforts to counter disinformation protect individuals’ freedom of expression and access to information, as well as other human rights;
- Facilitate an environment supportive of countering disinformation through multidimensional and multi-stakeholder responses that are in compliance with international human rights law, including through enhanced cooperation with international organisations, civil society, the media, and the private sector;
- Encourage businesses, including social media companies, to address disinformation through the review of business models, in particular the role of algorithms and ranking systems in amplifying disinformation, enhancing transparency, enforcing all applicable legal protections for users and encouraging due diligence in line with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights;
- Refrain from conducting or sponsoring disinformation campaigns domestically or internationally, and to condemn such acts;
The Human Rights Council also resolved to convene a high-level panel discussion on countering the negative impact of disinformation on human rights, which will be open to the participation of States, members of civil society and the private sector and other stakeholders.
The full resolution is accessible here.
It follows a report last year by the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression which examined the impact of disinformation on human rights.
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