Roundtable: Rights-respecting approaches to content and platform governance in times of crisis

Event date
31 May 2024
Event time
10:30 - 17:00
Oxford week
TT 6
Members of the University
Bonavero Institute of Human Rights


In November 2022, Access Now, ARTICLE 19, and other NGOs signed the ‘Declaration of principles for content and platform governance in times of crisis’ (the ‘Declaration’). This Declaration was borne out of a concern that online platforms have failed to adopt adequate responses to the harmful effects of online content during armed conflict and other crises. It sets out guidelines to help platforms protect human rights before, during, and after a crisis and is grounded on the responsibility of online platforms to prevent and mitigate their human rights impacts.

Following the publication of the Declaration, Access Now commissioned two reports to delve deeper into how international human rights law (IHRL), international humanitarian law (IHL) and international criminal law (ICL) apply to online content governance by both States and platforms in times of crisis. The first report concluded that those three legal frameworks apply in parallel to crisis situations, including during armed conflict. This requires states and platforms to strike a delicate balance between the need to sanction content violative of IHRL, IHL and ICL and the protection of the right to freedom of expression and information. The second report (forthcoming in March 2024) will apply those findings to online content and censorship measures targeting Palestinians in the context of the war in Gaza.

The aim of the roundtable is to bring together civil society organisations with relevant expertise, academic researchers and representatives of large online platforms to present the outcome of research outputs and to explore ways how they could positively shape platforms' crisis response mechanisms.  Those discussions will be structured around the three legal frameworks analysed in the reports and will seek to identify a) risk-based scenarios concerning the dissemination of illegal or harmful content online during ongoing armed conflicts; b) necessary safeguards and tools to be put in place in order to avoid silencing of historically oppressed and marginalised groups during crisis; and c) other pending questions requiring further research. The roundtable will be co-hosted by Access Now, the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC), and the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights. It will be held in person at the Bonavero Institute. Each session will kick off with brief remarks on the relevant topic by an expert speaker, followed by a moderated discussion among the participants. Key questions that will help to guide discussions in each thematic session will be sent to participants in advance, alongside a detailed  agenda. All participants are invited to actively engage in the discussions. The roundtable will be held under the Chatham House rule.

Draft Programme

10.30 – 11.00       Registration and coffee

11.00 – 11.10       Welcome

11.10 – 12:40       Session 1: Online content governace during armed conflict

13.30-15.00         Session 2: Atrocity Prevention in the digital age

15.10-16.40         Session 3: Protecting digital rights in crisis situations

16.40-17.00          Concluding remarks


Found within

Law and Technology