Where do human rights begin in the digital rights agenda?
A 5-minute opening remark by Paz Peña to introduce the workshop “Transforming Technology Frameworks for Human Rights and Earth Justice” at RightsCon, Costa Rica. This workshop featured invaluable interventions by APC, Sula Batsu, and Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira.
The technologies global production chain begins in El Estor, Guatemala, with nickel and rare earth elements extraction to support the world's digital infrastructure. Its mining has polluted Lake Izabal, exterminated biodiversity, and sickened and depleted indigenous populations, but in the name of techno-capitalism and its progress, who cares.
The technologies global production chain begins with exploiting lithium in salt flats in the Andean triangle between Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia. Its mining has exterminated unique biodiversity and left-indigenous populations without water, threatening their survival. But a desert, they say, is a no man's land; who cares.
The technologies global production chain begins with illegal gold mining in the Brazilian Amazon, which has brought pollution, violence, and bloodshed to the limits of horror. That the big technology companies have ended up buying that gold was just a mistake; techno-capitalism in the 21st century is “green,” we are told.
To the digital rights community, it is time to ask ourselves: where do human rights and social justice begin when we talk about digital technologies?
Why do we continue to think that our human rights work begins and ends when a device is turned on and off?
What do impact assessments include when we talk about business and human rights?
To what extent are we defending the rights of indigenous populations and the biodiversity that sustains life?
We are facing a planet in flames, and the technocapitalist economic logic in the 21st century will take us to environmental limits that we do not even suspect. And the technological public policies of the 21st century must understand this with creativity and commitment.
And I know that in such a complex world, it is time for many things, and it is overwhelming, but please let us not give up extending bonds of solidarity and struggle with all those affected by the global technology chain.
Hopefully, this small session will be one more step in that direction.