Microsoft and United Nations join forces to launch ‘Technology for Human Rights’ programme

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  • Digital technology has revolutionised a vast array of business industries and is continuing to transform the public sector and non-profit sector. Now Microsoft and the United Nations are joining forces to harness that very same technology for the advancement of human rights.

    The two organisations have revealed the details of a five-year, $5 million partnership to develop and deploy technological innovations in a bid to help predict, analyse and respond to critical human rights situations, such as human trafficking, ethnic cleansing or child labour violations.

    Brad Smith, President of Microsoft, said: "As a global company that sees the problems of the world, we believe that we have a responsibility to help solve them. We have an untapped opportunity to use the power of technology to collect data, analyze that data and equip the United Nations to advance human rights around the world."

    Microsoft has created a $5 million grant to fund the Technology for Human Rights programme, which will be used to develop cloud computing and big data analytics tools that can be used to aggregate and analyse vast quantities of data relating to specific countries and types of rights violations in real time.

    In addition, the global tech giant, which has its European headquarters in Ireland but also has offices in more than 100 countries around the world, will also use its own considerable reach to help raise awareness of the role that other companies can and should play in supporting the advancement of human rights globally.

    During the five year partnership Microsoft will also provide support for the UN’s human rights advocacy and outreach campaigns in key areas like freedom of expression, data protection and privacy, and inclusion.

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, said: "We live in a rapidly evolving age, where technology can either be used to solve human rights problems or misused to erode human rights. Similarly, companies can infringe people's rights, or they can be a major progressive force.

    "The private sector has an essential role to play in advancing human rights, and this partnership with Microsoft demonstrates how we can join forces in a constructive way.”


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