Our world is more connected than ever before. Among the billions of people online, children are increasingly using the internet for their learning and growth in significant ways. This hyper-connectivity exposes children to a multitude of risks, which is becoming a global phenomenon.
In this context, the UN Human Rights’ Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) in Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with the Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC) organised a two-days forum on 29 and 30 June 2022, promoting the development of national policies, strategies and frameworks for the protection of children in cyberspace, in accordance with international norms and standards.
The forum offered a platform where experts from UN Human Rights, the International Telecommunication Union, UNESCO, UNICEF and other primary global stakeholders like London School of Economics and Global Kids Online, as well as national primary stakeholders in Saudi Arabia, were able to exchange best experiences, practices and recommendations on the protection of children in cyberspace.
In his opening remarks, Abdel Aziz Abdallah Al Khayal, Deputy President of the Saudi HRC, stressed on the various challenges that children are exposed to today in a rapidly growing digital era. “This is something that requires a serious stand of unity to protect our children from such dangers and threats and be able to have them using a friendly and safe digital environment.”
In his turn, Mu’ayyad Mehyar, Programme Coordinator of the UN Human Rights’ Technical Cooperation Programme in Saudi Arabia, stressed on the importance of “resolving the apparent and/or implicit tension between the protection of the rights of children and their rights to participation and freedom of expression , when developing policies, strategies and regulatory frameworks on cyber security.
In addition, Mu’ayyad Mehyar emphasised that protecting children in cyberspace requires a comprehensive strategy based on, inter alia, a child rights-based approach that supports the rights and responsibilities of society to respect children’s rights as stipulated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as what is stated in General Comment No. 25 (2021) on children’s rights and the digital environment.
The forum concluded with a series of recommendations that the Saudi HRC will be following up on.
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