Tuesday, 24.09.2019 - 13.30-15.00pm, Room XXIII, E-building, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland

Digital Trade in Africa: Implications for Inclusion and Human Rights

Digitialization is rapid and accelerating, with innovation changing the way we design, produce and generate value from products and related services.

Photo: Phoenix Design Aid, Denmark

Digital globalization of which trade is both a component and facilitator can have  serious  ramifications  for  human  rights.  African  countries  will  need  to  explore  and  develop  alternative  industrialization  routes,  through  building  the  relevant  skills  sets  and  capacities  to  actively  participate  in  and  benefit from the digital transformation.

The  way  new  digital  technologies  interact  with  the  global  economy  in  turn  poses  new  opportunities  and  challenges  for  inclusive  development.  The  response  must  be  an  updating  of  policymakers’  toolkits  to  face  the  new  opportunities  and  challenges  of  digital  trade,  and  ensure  inclusive  outcomes  that  progress  human  rights.

The response must be an updating of policymakers’ toolkits to maintain human rights. African countries will need to explore and develop alternative industrialization routes, through building the relevant skills sets and capacities to actively participate in and benefit from the digital transformation. The emergence of new technology systems, platforms, and ideas creates an opportunity for human rights to be a guiding framework for digital technology and development in Africa.

Following      the      launch      of      the      OHCHR-ECA-FES     publication,    this    session    discussed    how moving into the digital trade space offers human rights practitioners a   new   platform   to   apply   past   successes  and   innovate  future   safeguards.   The   emergence   of  new     technology  systems,     platforms,     and     ideas  creates   an   opportunity  for  human  rights  to  be  a guiding     framework     for     digital technology     and development in Africa.


  • H.E. Ms. Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter,
    Ambassador & Permanent Representative to the WTO, South Africa
  • Mr. David Luke, Coordinator of the African
    Trade Policy Centre, ECA
  • Mr. Jonathan Andrew, Research Fellow,
    Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law & Human Rights
  • Ms. Nwanneakolam Vwede‐Obahor,
    Regional Representative East Africa, OHCHR


  • Mr Hajo Lanz, Director, FES Geneva office

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