Technology has dramatically transformed the world we live in. It is increasingly difficult to remember human existence before digital technologies and digital information permeated almost every aspect of life. Digitalization has radically changed government, business, science, as well as many other aspects of human interaction. But we are also far removed from the early days of the internet and personal computer boom and that period’s optimism about our digital future; a time when Nicholas Negroponte wrote in Being Digital that “[l]ike a force of nature, the digital age cannot be denied or stopped.” Today’s digital reality is mixed, and we are not only aware of the promises of new technologies, but also of the ability of these technologies to cause harm and undermine our human rights. Technology-driven automation may lead to displacement of human workers, governments may use an immense data stream to spy on us and control our behavior, and social media can be a marketplace for hate. How do we ensure that technology and data are used to fulfill our rights, like our human rights to health, to education, and to social security, rather than to violate those rights? As governments incorporate digital technologies, how do we ensure that no one is excluded? These are some of the key questions that guide the Center’s work on digital technologies and human rights.

Current Projects

Launched in 2018, CHRGJ’s Digital Welfare Sate and Human Rights Project aims to investigate systems of social protection and assistance in countries around the world that are increasingly driven by digital data and technologies. The Digital Welfare State and Human Rights Project will contribute to this emerging field by undertaking research, stimulating debate, and forging networks.

Ongoing and Upcoming Work

CHRGJ will soon launch the Everyone Counts Initiative as part of its Digital Welfare State and Human Rights Project. The initiative will undertake research on digital ID, social exclusion, and human rights violations in Uganda together with two Ugandan human rights/digital rights NGOs. CHRGJ will also organize, as part of the initiative, a skills-based workshop series for African human rights activists on digital ID, social exclusion, and human rights

Adam Ray
Human Rights Scholar
Christiaan van Veen
Director, Digital Welfare State and Human Rights Project
Katelyn Cioffi
Research Scholar, Digital Welfare State and Human Rights Project
Margaret L. Satterthwaite
CHRGJ Director
Director, Global Justice Clinic
Professor of Clinical Law
Victoria Adelmant
Research Scholar
November 23, 2020
Digital Paternalism: Australia’s Cashless Debit Card Trials
View Event
October 28, 2020
Seeing the Unseen: Inclusion and Exclusion in Kenya’s Digital ID System
View Event
September 30, 2020
User-Friendly Digital Government? The Case of Universal Credit in the United Kingdom
View Event
January 8, 2020
What the “Digital Welfare State” Really Means for Human Rights
View Document
December 18, 2019
Why the Digitization of Welfare States is a Pressing Human Rights Issue
View Document
Reports and Briefing Papers
October 16, 2019
UN Special Rapporteur Report on the Digitization of Welfare States
View Document
Related Pages
Data Visualization for Human Rights Project
Digital Welfare State and Human Rights Project
Transformer States Conversation Series

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