General Assembly/3C: Statement by Ambassador Wittig at the presentation of the draft resolution on “The Right to Privacy in the Digital World”
I am pleased to join my Brazilian colleague in introducing this new resolution on a growing human rights challenge.
The human right to privacy is not new. In fact, it is enshrined in two of the most fundamental instruments of the international human rights architecture: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1976.
Over the past months, however, reports about mass surveillance of private communication and the collection of personal data have alarmed people all over the world. They ask a legitimate question: is their right to privacy still protected effectively in our digital world?
Today, there seem to be hardly any technical limitations for accessing, storing or combining personal data. But should everything that is technical feasible also be allowed? Where do we draw the line between legitimate security concerns and the individual right to privacy? And how do we ensure that human rights are effectively protected both offline and online?
Germany and Brazil believe that these complex and highly relevant questions require global answers. We therefore believe that it is important to take this discussion to the most relevant international framework – the United Nations.
Earlier this year at the margins of the Human Rights Council, we therefore launched an initiative to strengthen the right to privacy in the digital age. Intensive discussions with human rights experts, civil society organizations and Member States ensued. The result is the draft resolution we are introducing today.
We further propose to request the High Commissioner for Human Rights to report back to Member States, providing concrete recommendations on how the right to privacy could be better protected, including in the context of extra-territorial surveillance. We are convinced that this report will be a solid basis for a serious and diligent discussion that leads beyond the current public debate.
We look forward to close consultations with you on this draft resolution. I also invite all of you to co-sponsor this important resolution and thereby to send out a strong message that the international community is ready to address one of the most pressing challenges in international human rights law: protecting privacy in the digital age.