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Human rights Commissioner Strässer comments on UN resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age

26.11.2014 - Press release

German Government Human Rights Commissioner Christoph Strässer issued the following statement in Berlin on 27 November, after the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly approved the draft resolution “The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age”, which was co-sponsored by Germany and Brazil:

I am glad that the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly yesterday once again approved, by consensus, a resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age, which was co-sponsored by Germany and Brazil. The number of countries which joined us in supporting the resolution was up again this year. This shows just how close the topic is to many people’s hearts.

The negotiations, by no means uncontentious, demonstrated how vital it is to continue and intensify the debate. The draft resolution shows the way ahead. Together with Brazil and other partners, we will advocate that the UN Human Rights Council issue a mandate in March 2015 for a special rapporteur to lead and structure that debate.

We need to be able to take it for granted that our privacy is protected in the virtual world of the internet, just as we do in the real world. We will only be able to fully exploit the vast potential of digital communication if we are sure we can conduct ourselves freely online without our every move being observed and monitored.

Background information

On 25 November, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly approved, by consensus, the draft resolution “The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age” co-sponsored by Germany and Brazil.

The draft builds on Resolution 68/167, the predecessor text also co-sponsored by Brazil and Germany and submitted to the General Assembly last year. It was supported by 65 countries – a clear increase on the 55 countries which had supported the resolution on the same topic in 2013.

The operative outcome of the draft resolution is to encourage the UN Human Rights Council to continue the debate on the right to privacy and, to that end, to consider establishing a UN special mechanism, as they are known, such as a special rapporteur.

The resolution is expected to be adopted in a plenary session of the General Assembly before the end of December 2014. The next meeting of the UN Human Rights Council will be held in March 2015.

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