In a landmark five-year partnership with the UN, Microsoft has announced it will provide a grant of $5 million to UN Human Rights Office to support its work, with a particular focus on use of technology for critical response to human rights situations.
The five-year partnership will focus on the development and use of advanced technology designed to better predict and analyse such situations. “We live in a rapidly evolving age, where technology can either be used to solve human rights problems or misused to erode human rights. Similarly, companies can infringe people’s rights, or they can be a major progressive force,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement on Tuesday.
The grant from Microsoft will help establish technologies like “Rights View” — an information “dashboard” that will allow UN human rights staff to aggregate large quantities of internal and external data on specific countries and types of rights violations in real time. “We have an untapped opportunity to use the power of technology to collect data, analyse that data and equip the United Nations to advance human rights around the world,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith.
The software giant will also provide support for human rights advocacy and outreach campaigns through concrete support for the work of the UN Human Rights Office in areas like freedom of expression, data protection and privacy. “This includes direct support for the development and promotion of corporate principles for tackling LGBTI discrimination in the workplace in line with international human rights standards,” the company said.
In collaboration with the UN Human Rights, Microsoft will also raise awareness of the role that companies can play in driving respect for human rights.
Microsoft will also work closely with the Office to help promote broader adoption and implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
“The private sector has an essential role to play in advancing human rights, and this partnership with Microsoft demonstrates how we can join forces in a constructive way,” Al Hussein said.