Press Release: Statement by Dr. Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights, on the right to privacy

Nov 23, 2016

Dr Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (23 November):

I am pleased that the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly once again approved by consensus a German-Brazilian resolution on the human right to privacy on Monday. In total, 70 countries supported the text as co-sponsors.

The protection of privacy is facing new challenges in the digital age. Effective protection of privacy can only be achieved by working together and on a global scale. By submitting the resolution, we are drawing attention to an important topic in the international debate and underlining that the rights people have outside the internet must also apply when they use the internet and express their views in it. This year, our resolution has highlighted companies’ responsibility for protecting private data.

In view of the importance of the right to privacy, the approval of the resolution by consensus is of particular significance. We primarily owe this success to our long-standing good work with Brazil and other partners.

Background information:

At the initiative of Brazil and Germany, with support from Mexico, Liechtenstein, Norway, Austria and Switzerland, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (Human Rights Committee) approved a resolution on the right to privacy in New York on Monday for the third time by consensus.  Formal adoption of the resolution by the plenary session of the General Assembly is scheduled for December.

In 2013 and 2014, decisions were made by consensus on the right to privacy in the digital age, also following a joint German-Brazilian initiative. In 2015, the Human Rights Council in Geneva appointed a Special Rapporteur on the topic at the initiative of Germany and Brazil. Traditionally, Germany has submitted resolutions in Geneva and New York on the right to privacy, the right to water and sanitation, and the right to adequate housing. Germany is also particularly active in New York as regards national human rights institutions and in Geneva as regards combating human trafficking.

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