A multistakeholder approach to HRIAs: Lessons from ICANN

14 Nov 2018 12:30h - 13:30h

Event report

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The session focused on a multistakeholder approach to Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIAs), drawing lessons from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Named and Numbers (ICANN), and was moderated by Ms Bruna Martins dos Santos, Chair, Non Commercial User’s Constituency (NCUC), ICANN.

Mr Jorge Cancio Meliá, International Relations Specialist, Federal Office of Communications, Switzerland, mentioned that, according to its bylaws, ICANN is bound to relevant principles of local and international law. The Declaration of Human Rights first appeared in ICANN documents during the development of the new generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) principles by the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) in 2007. He mentioned that the human rights discussion also became embedded in the ICANN discussion during and after the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) transition in 2016.  

Ms Tulika Bansal, Senior Advisor, The Danish Institute for Human Rights, spoke about industry feeding into the wider context of business and human rights, noting that businesses have the responsibility to respect human rights, and governments should ensure that companies actually do. She highlighted two kinds of human rights impact assessments: company-led and community-led. She mentioned that multistakholder impact assessments do not exist yet, but could be a powerful method of conducting assessments. On the question whether children’s rights are given priority in the human rights assessments, Bansal mentioned that the practice was not yet common in the information and communication technology (ICT) space, but other sectors and bodies like United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) were already conducting such assessments.

Sharing the experience from his organisation, Mr Michele Neylon, , Founder and Managing Director, Blacknight Internet Solutions Ltd., mentioned that, as a registrar, the organisation’s work involves hosting content and other services to individuals, small businesses and multinational corporations. He acknowledged that the technology industry is grappling with human rights assessments now, as they are new in the technology domain. When asked about rights of children as regards registrars, Neylon noted that companies are already ensuring that rights of children are respected in the domain space.

Ms Colline Kurre, Digital Program Officer, Article 19, mentioned that a lot of progress has been made towards developing impact assessments for the ICANN community. There have beensome recent successes in getting human rights impact assessments as a concept within ICANN. She noted that the involvement of non-government organisations and companies in policy discussions and creation in the Internet governance space is becoming a relevant question, so it is necessary to look at a hybrid approach to impact assessments. The project does not involve only meaningful inclusion, but also engagement throughout the process to overcome community divides that result in mistrust. Kurre mentioned the need to move to an accountable and transparent process.


By Sarah Kiden