World governments commit at UN to implementing children's rights in the digital environment

Governments from 193 countries yesterday cemented their political commitment to effectively implement children’s rights in the digital environment with the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee of a groundbreaking Resolution on the Rights of the Child in the digital environment.

Following extensive engagement by 5Rights, including to bring the children’s rights community together behind a joint position, the Resolution, adopted by consensus, marks a resounding political endorsement of the requirements set out in the General comment 25 to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

To ensure the effective implementation of children’s rights in the digital environment, the Resolution recalls the primary responsibility of states to revise their national laws in accordance with their international human rights obligations. The Resolution further emphasises the need for states to regulate corporate due diligence and ensure companies fulfil their responsibilities.

The General Assembly recalls the critical responsibility of the private sector to respect children’s rights and highlights the importance of prioritising their best interests. Moreover, it also requires private sector actors to prevent risks that may arise from the design and conception of their products and services. It requires that their actions do not have a detrimental effect or impact negatively on children’s rights. Child rights due diligence, and impact assessments, are emphasised to mitigate potential risks to children’s rights together with the adherence to the highest standards of privacy, safety and security by design and default.

The Resolution takes a firm stance on protecting children’s privacy. It calls for robust national legislation on data protection and privacy, emphasising that businesses should not prioritise commercial interests over the best interests of the child.

States must now take effective action to implement their commitments, by looking to the existing international best practices for children’s online privacy and safety, including the Age Appropriate Design Code, IEEE2089 Standard for an Age Appropriate Digital Services Framework and the Child Online Safety Toolkit that was designed by 5Rights Foundation and supported by End Violence’s Safe Online initiative. The political will mustered to pass the UNGA Resolution must translate into political will to pass enforceable regulation that will deliver the concrete changes that will enable to children to be safe and thrive in the digital world.