In a digitally connected world, the question of how to respect, protect and implement human rights has become unavoidable. As ever more human beings, organizational systems and technical devices transition online, realizing human rights in online settings is becoming ever more pressing. When looking at basic human rights such as freedom of expression, privacy, free assembly or the right to a fair trial, all of these are heavily impacted by new information and communications technologies. While there have been many long-standing debates about the management of key Internet resources and the legitimacy of rules applicable to the Internet – from legal norms to soft law, from standards to code – it is only more recently that these debates have been explicitly framed in terms of human rights. The scholarly field that has grown in response to these debates is highly interdisciplinary and draws from law, political science, international relations, geography and even computer science and science and technology studies (STS). In order to do justice to the interdisciplinary nature of the field, this Research Handbook on Human Rights and Digital Technology: Global Politics, Law and International Relations unites carefully selected and reviewed contributions from scholars and practitioners, representing key research and practice fields relevant for understanding human rights challenges in times of digital technology.
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Ben Wagner, Matthias C. Kettemann and Kilian Vieth
Where law is lawful, decision-makers must comply with the law. If administrative justice is to be achieved in the global space, administrative decision-makers must be committed to ‘legality’, meaning that their decisions are consistent with the existing body of law. A comparative analysis of prevailing functional understandings of administrative justice reveals that it contains a requirement that administrative decisions be made ‘according to law’. Global administrative justice requires cohesiveness, and cohesiveness implies stability, or an anchor to which standards can be tethered. If a requirement for decisions to be made according to law is incorporated into a model of global administrative justice, that anchor becomes the legal framework under which administrative decisions are made. The existing law in the global space, which is defined as international law, domestic law and institutional law, intersects with the United Nations to create legal obligations for its administrative decision-making.
When administrative decision-making is removed from the domestic context and placed somewhere where no framework for administrative law exists, how can we assure that our rights are protected and the rule of law is respected? Administrative law does not exist doctrinally outside of the domestic context, yet administrative decision-making occurs in the ‘global space’ and within the United Nations (UN) in particular. Administrative decisions in the global space are those decisions that are made by international institutions in the exercise of formal power, which create, amend or affect the rights, interests or obligations of individuals or groups, as opposed to States. When the ability to ensure that decisions are lawful, rational, fair, transparent and allow for participation is denied, an accountability deficit emerges. It is suggested that accountability of administrative decision-making within the UN could be conceptualised through the public law concept of administrative justice.