We are proud to announce that on 15 November 2020, for the first time, Humanium submitted a proposal for a General Comment to the UN, in response to the UN’s call for NGO participation in drafting the General Comment on Children’s Rights in Relation to the Digital Environment.
“Children in diverse contexts see digital technology as critical to their current lives, and the future. They find benefits of using digital technology: “I express [online] what I see as important through my eyes in the world”; “I need technology for school and for fun”; “When you are sad, the internet can help you see something that brings you joy”.”Draft of the UN General Comment, Children’s Rights in Relation to the Digital Environment, 2020
In this draft General Comment, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has developed an overview of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Relation to the Digital Environment. All the base elements of children’s rights are reviewed through the lens of the digital environment; from protections from all forms of discrimination (art. 2) to the best interests of the child (art. 3), the right of access to information from the media (art. 17) and freedom of expression (art. 13), as well as the protection of children from all forms of violence (art. 19). (Draft UN General Comment, Children’s Rights in Relation to the Digital Environment, 2020)
“The right to non-discrimination requires that States ensure all children, including children of lower-income families and children living in rural and remote areas, have equal and effective access to the digital environment […].”Draft of the UN General Comment, Children’s Rights in Relation to the Digital Environment, 2020
Humanium has given its strong support to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, submitting proposals for the protection of children’s rights against violence. For example, Humanium suggests separating adults and children onto different game servers, in order to avoid all contact between children and ill-intentioned adults. Other suggestions include better education on the digital environment, through teaching and empowering private actors to really be able to understand difficult but essential words such as “private life,” “data” and “cookie.”
Moreover, as a stroke of innovation, it is recommended that children’s rights be considered when they create content online in order to preserve their best interests. Finally, it is also argued that children’s rights in relation to their digital environment must be considered together with environmental rights and the right to a healthy environment.
“The GC comes at an unprecedented and pivotal moment as the coronavirus pandemic has, and continues to, threaten child rights and heavily exacerbate children’s presence online as worldwide educational, leisure, social, political and professional activities undergo massive relocation to the virtual sphere.”Extract from the proposal submitted by Humanium to the UN for the General Comment on Children’s Rights in Relation to the Digital Environment, 2020
Children are in real need of a new implementation of their rights in view of the digital environment’s contemporary issues. Online discrimination is on the rise, as is abuse against children. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect children around the world, internet access has never been more vital, but is also more dangerous. As a result, more extensive and child-friendly protections are necessary. The General Comment of the Committee on the Rights of the Child is therefore an indispensable tool for the protection of minors throughout the world.
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Written by Adrian Lakrichi
Translated by Kyle Estment-Shah
United Nations (2020). Draft UN General Comment, Children’s Rights in Relation to the Digital Environment. Retrieved from OHCHR.org.