On March 26, 2015 the United Nations Human Rights Council (the “Council”) announced that it will appoint a new position as special rapporteur on the right to privacy for a term of three years. The position, which is part of the Council’s resolution, is intended to reaffirm the right to privacy and the right to the protection of the law against any interference on a person’s privacy, family, home or correspondences, as set out in Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Some of the tasks of the special rapporteur will include:

  • Gathering information on international privacy developments and challenges;
  • Submitting recommendations to the Council on how to better promote privacy protection in the face of rising challenges in the digital age;
  • Reporting on any violations to the right to privacy set out in in Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
  • Receiving and responding to information gathered by the UN and all of its agencies and relevant stakeholders;
  • Participating in and contributing to any relevant international conferences; and
  • Submitting an annual report to the Council and the General Assembly.

The International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners welcomed the announcement and Conference Chair John Edwards, Privacy Commissioner of New Zealand, stated that “Data Protection and Privacy Authorities everywhere welcome the United Nations taking a lead in seeking to ensure the promotion and protection of privacy, especially given the challenges posed by new technologies.” The Council is expected to appoint an individual to serve as the special rapporteur for the first three-year team in June 2015.