Technology Changing @ a Dizzying Pace: Reflections on Selected Jurisprudence of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and Technology


The year 1989 gave birth to both the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Internet. The Convention is not a static document, and this article explores how the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC Committee) has, through its jurisprudence, contributed to keeping the Convention relevant for the last 30 years. The challenge posed by the tension between participation and protection rights is very evident in respect of children’s rights in the digital environment. This is reflected in respect of the right of access to information, the right to freedom of expression, as well as the discussions on children’s participation rights within the digital environment. The article the challenges relating to online sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse images, and grapples with the way that inequalities are exacerbated as a result of the global digital divide, and the effect of this on civil, social and economic rights of children. The contemporary use of the Internet (and genetic technology advances) to discover identity is the link that connects in the third part of the article, which deals with assisted reproductive technologies (ART). A conservative estimate of seven million people have been born as a result of ART, most of them during the past 30 years. New challenges are being experienced in relation to children’s rights in surrogacy. The article traces concerns raised and the recommendations made by the CRC Committee in concluding observations on a range of relevant issues under the CRC and the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (OPSC). The concluding observations and general comments of the CRC Committee feature strongly in this article, which also draws on the OPSC Guidelines adopted in 2019 and the CRC Committee’s Report on the Day of General Discussion on digital media and children’s rights. The dizzying pace of the evolution of digital technology that affects children’s rights is not slowing down. Children’s rights advocates need to remain responsive and flexible to ensure that the field keeps up with developments.

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Peace Human Rights Governance
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