Klau Center Roundtable

Spring 2019 Klau Center Human Rights Roundtable


"Human Rights Fact-Finding in the Era of Fake News: Interdisciplinary Challenges and Institutional Cooperation"

The growth of strongmen governments around the world - in Hungary, the Philippines, Turkey, Russia, China, Egypt, Venezuela, among others - has been paralleled by pushback against the reliability and accuracy of human rights reporting, as well as the independence and impartiality of third-party human rights fact-finding. Called into question are the results of fact-finding processes conducted under the auspices of the United Nations (such as the independent roles of special rapporteurs, vis-a-vis commissions of inquiry, and other fact-finding procedures authorized in coordination with the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights or the Human Rights Council); fact-finding investigations conducted by international non-governmental organizations (such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, among others); or by established international and/or regional human rights courts and tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, among others). 

The proliferation of "fake news" and the dissemination of disinformation, in particular, raises even more challenges to human rights advocacy, litigation and enforcement, policy-making and promotion.  The climate of increasing disinformation imperils outgoing UN High Commissioner Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein urging to all States to "do more, speak louder, and work harder for a common purpose, and for universal human rights law, to better our chances for global peace."

This Spring 2019 Human Rights Roundtable will assemble a core group of international human rights experts from various disciplines - ranging from grassroots practice, international or regional adjudication and litigation, governmental policy-making, cross-border human rights advocacy, and academia - to explore possible strategies to strengthen human rights fact-finding tools, consider interdisciplinary challenges and an array of empirical tools, in order to develop strategies for effective, verifiable, and transparent human rights fact-finding to counteract fake news and disinformation threatening the promotion and protection of human rights.