Preserving privacy requires global action: Steinmeier

Steinmeier speaking at the Center for Strategic and InternationalGerman Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Minister called for concerted global action on the international right to privacy after the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva voted (26 March 2015) to create a mandate for a UN Special Rapporteur on citizens’ right to privacy.

In a statement issued in Berlin (27 March 2015) Steinmeier said he was “delighted” over the new mandate, something that Germany had been working with “great persistence” to achieve with Brazil and other partners in the initiative.

“With the unstoppable digitisation of our world, we are facing new challenges in the area of the protection of privacy that have, at the latest since Edward Snowden’s revelations, been the subject of discussion among the general public,” Steinmeir said, a reference to the widely reported ‘conversation’ (aka ‘tiff’) between Berlin and Washington over reported US spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other individuals and institutions in German government.

Steinmeier said, “Effective protection of privacy can only be achieved by working together and on a global scale. We need to continue the debate in a serious and active manner, especially at the international level. The UN Special Rapporteur will play an important role in this regard.”

Germany alongside Brazil — two of the countries most ired by US National Security Agency spying — have sought creation of the privacy mandate. Supported by Mexico, Liechtenstein, Norway, Austria and Switzerland, the UN Human Rights Council adopted the resolution by consensus , the groundwork for which was laid by UN General Assembly resolutions 68/167 and 69/166 of 2013 and 2014 on the “right to privacy in the digital age.” The previous resolutions were also the result of a joint German-Brazilian initiative.

The Special Rapporteur’s mandate will encompass all aspects relating to the human right to privacy, which is guaranteed by Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Special Rapporteur will participate in the international debate and present annual reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations and will enjoy independence in the performance of his or her duties. While the role is not remunerated, the Special Rapporteur will receive personnel and logistical support from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

That office will  issue a public invitation for applications for the post of Special Rapporteur. An appointment is expected during the session of the Human Rights Council in June 2015.

Related Audio Link

To listen to words by Steinmeier and moderator John J Hamre, 
CEO and President and 
the Pritzker Chair
, CSIS, at the Statesmen’s Forum event in Washington 12 March 2015, click here.

Author: Editor

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