Human Rights-Based Approach

Using a Human Rights-Based Approach we investigate questions to be explored at each phase of the data life cycle, focusing on fairness and debiasing AI.

Why human rights?

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world. They are inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status ( OHCHR).

Human rights are based on three core principles:

→Equality and Non-discrimination: All individuals are equal as human beings by virtue of the inherent dignity of each human person, making human rights universal, indivisible, interdependent, and inter-related. 

→Participation and Inclusion: Every person and all peoples are entitled to active, free and meaningful participation in, contribution to, and enjoyment of civil, economic, social, cultural and political development in which human rights and fundamental freedoms can be realized.

→Accountability and Rule of Law: Via international and national law, states and other duty-bearers are answerable for the observance of human rights, allowing for a normative approach and provisions for remedies in the case of human rights violations.

Our approach

A Human Rights-Based Approach applied to Artificial Intelligence aims to center equity & inclusion at the core of the machine-learning algorithms. Integrating human rights principles into computing technology can help educate the next generation of scientists and engineers to work for the public good, creating technology aware of and in line with human values rather than uwittingly harming them.

We believe that a human-rights based approach can inspire scientists and engineers to work in transdisciplinary collaboration with social scientists and those who will be impacted by the technology.

Why a Human Rights-Based Approach as opposed to Ethical or Responsible AI ?

Ethics, which are crucially important, are also situational. At last count there were 80 plus guidelines and recommendations from groups such as universities, civil society organizations, research institutes, as well as the private sector and governments.  Regardless of the strength of some guidelines, the number and wide variety create an à  la carte application of ethical / responsibility principles which reduce the ethics conversation. At the same time, many aspects of these guidelines are very abstract and have been criticized for not being directly actionable, both in academia as well as industry.

Human rights standards are built on an agreed body of international (and national) law which provide a common starting point among different actors, helping to make the conversation and objectives more concrete. As a result, we have chosen to also center this course around a Human Rights-Based Approach to AI development.

The ultimate focus of Human Rights  – on guiding  impact on humans towards human flourishing –  is very applicable to AI systems and their development, or, in other words: “At its best, the digital revolution will empower, inform, connect, and save lives. At its worst it will disempower, misinform, disconnect, and cost lives. Human Rights will make all the difference to that equation” (Michelle Bachelet, Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2019).


→ Digital technology + human rights


→ Key Concepts

→ Legal Documents


→ Women’s Rights + Gender Equality

Join our community

We are committed to advancing human rights-based approaches in AI & encourage anyone interested in learning more from a global perspective to explore and contribute to our community!