Human rights at UNGA78: Calls for a human-centric digital future

Concerns over surveillance, calls for humanist traditions, and pleas for a human-centric tech approach resonated.

Wrist hands, team and community support diversity people, protest group and human rights freedom on

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres voiced concerns about online surveillance and data harvesting, which have given rise to widespread human rights abuses on a scale previously unseen.

Chilean President Gabriel Boric Font views technological development as a tool for unity, emphasising the need to protect vulnerable groups from disinformation and prevent further divisions at both national and international levels. He believes in harnessing the power of technology to bring people together rather than drive them apart.

Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called for a return to humanist traditions, emphasising the importance of inclusive policies at cultural, educational, and digital levels to uphold democratic values and preserve press freedom.

Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar advocated for a human-centric and human-rights-based approach to the development and deployment of technology. She proposed that the Global Digital Compact be centred around this notion, emphasising the need for all stakeholders, including private companies, to genuinely commit to this vision. 

Balancing digitalisation’s benefits with the protection of human dignity was highlighted by Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, stressing the importance of compatible international rules and a digital ecosystem that respects human rights.

To tackle these issues, Yoon Suk Yeol, President of South Korea, unveiled plans to introduce a Digital Bill of Rights.