nb8 statement SR on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association

Item 3: Clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. Nordic-Baltic statement, as delivered by Mr. Oscar EKÉUS, Minister-Counsellor, Sweden on 26 June.

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Thank you Mr President.

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries [Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden].

We thank both Special Rapporteurs for their valuable work and express full support for their mandates.

Our countries are committed to all human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly and of association offline, as well as online. Digital technologies bring remarkable opportunities to enhance the enjoyment of these rights. But, as your reports show, they also have the potential to create challenges, risks and even threats.

Emerging trends in State actions to control and impede access to and use of digital technologies with the aim of limiting these fundamental freedoms are extremely worrying. We are also especially concerned about the targeted surveillance of journalists, civil society, opposition figures, and others that are exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Therefore, we call on all States to fulfil their obligations to respect and fully protect these rights offline as well as online. States must ensure the human rights are respected and protected in the digital arena.

Further, we agree that international human rights law should not only dictate State conduct, but also be a framework that guides digital technology companies. The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide an important framework for private sector conduct.

We would like to ask the following:

  • Voule, what role do you see for the Human Rights Council in addressing the conclusions of your report?
  • Kaye, you recommend to the Council to create a new mechanism [a working group or cross-mandate task force]. Could you elaborate on how, in your view, such mechanism could most effectively monitor human rights abuses facilitated by digital surveillance?

I thank you!