49th Human Rights Council session

28 Feb 2022 - 1 Apr 2022

Geneva, Switzerland

Event report

Interactive dialogue with Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy Ana Brian Nougrères

In her introductory remarks, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy Ana Brian Nougrères expressed her gratitude to Germany, Austria, Lichtenstein, and Mexico for their support in the preparation of the report Privacy and Personal Data Protection in Ibero-America: A Step Towards Globalisation?

According to Brian Nougrères, it is possible that the Ibero-American data protection system could provide a model for a way of working collaboratively, and perhaps a step towards the global harmonisation of privacy and personal data protection.

Personal data protection and the principles of privacy have had a very rapid evolution as a result of the advances in information and communications technologies (ICTs): ‘We are today facing a technological revolution that began with the widespread use of the internet and continued to evolve towards 3D printing, Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, nanotechnology, robotics — all these find us today assimilating all elements to our daily lives, in our own kitchen, in our cars, in the financial systems, these allow us to save lives, help to detect diseases and promote economic productivity.’ She said that these great advances in ICTs, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), have brought elements of social disruption, have shown us how our lives have changed, and have profound repercussions on the right to privacy.

Digital disruption added to the COVID-19 pandemic a number of challenges. It is important to bear in mind that individuals remain at the centre of the entire legal, regulatory, and political system. Brian Nougrères stressed that ‘democracy presupposes the existence of fundamental human rights of privacy and personal data protection, but this right must be concrete and effective’, and continued by saying that ‘it is not enough that these possess only a degree of existence in virtuality, it is not enough that there are legal provisions or regulatory provisions that indicate to us what they should be, it is also necessary that they exist in reality’.

The existing Ibero-America data protection regulatory framework was created from existing institutional provisions to which a series of international instruments and some jurisprudential considerations were added. Brian Nougrères explained that the signature of three political declarations (2003 Declaration of Bolivia; 2003 Declaration of Antigua, Guatemala; and 2004 Declaration of Cartagena, Colombia) marked the process of change that culminated in the development of the Ibero-American legislation on personal data protection. After the adoption of these three declarations, different Latin American countries incorporated regulations based on the European data protection systems. They pursue a healthy balance between the protection of fundamental human rights and the free circulation of goods, persons, services, and capital, thus enhancing economic and social integration. The constitutions of most Ibero-American countries establish the right to privacy as a fundamental human right.

The cooperation mechanism between Ibero-America and the EU has been developing for two decades in an increasingly large geographical area, seeking consensual principles in which integration and harmonisation are achievable challenges that follow ethical parameters and respect the diversity of peoples.

Brian Nougrères emphasised that ‘this Ibero-American approach, based on European principles, can be considered as a way of working towards a harmonious integration on the basis of respect, less discrimination and more justice, in a world governed by democratic principles’.

Regarding the priorities during her mandate, Brian Nougrères particularly highlighted three focus areas.

First, as the privacy mandate shows us, the legal institute works horizontally. It touches upon different areas, ranging from the legal point of view to the social and human rights point of view. As she explained: ‘We have been looking for a way to enter the topic so that everyone can be at a similar level and we can find ways to work together.’

Second, ‘Data protection grows on a series of principles, it is developed on a set of principles — such as consent, purpose, the proportionality of data according to purpose and others,’ claimed Brian Nougrères, and added that it is important that we can have a degree of consensus on these principles, and from these, we are going to submit our work for consideration to see if we can reach consensus.

Third, health data related to the COVID-19 pandemic has been identified as particularly interesting. Brian Nougrères is concerned about what is going to happen to all our data that has been collected during the pandemic, and will it be kept collected by companies, organisations or states. She also spoke about the questionnaire that has been submitted for consideration and invited all countries that have not submitted their answers to do so, so we can reach a conclusion and move forward.


49th regular session of the Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will take place from 28 February to 1 April 2022, at the Palais des Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Human Rights Council holds three regular sessions a year, for a total of at least ten weeks. They take place in March (four weeks), June (three weeks) and September (three weeks). If one third of the Member States requests so, the Human Rights Council can decide at any time to hold a special session to address human rights violations and emergencies.

During the session, high-level discussions will be held on various human rights related issues, such as: the right to education and training, gender and human rights, ensuring equitable, affordable, timely and universal access for all countries to vaccines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic etc.

It will also provide an opportunity to discuss human rights issues in Eritrea, the Tigray region of Ethiopia, promotion and protection of human rights in Afghanistan and many other issues of concern.

For more information regarding the 49rd UNHRC session, visit the session webpage.