The 49th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
28 February to 1 April 2022
Statement of Meezaan Center for Human Rights
Agenda Item 9: General debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, follow-up to and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action
28 March 2022
By Jamel Nampijja
Thank you, President,
2O Years after the DDPA was adopted, racism and various forms of discrimination still persist. In some instances, it has increased and evolved into new spheres.
New and emerging digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) can support accelerating the advancement of social, economic, and technological development for the world. On the other hand, Artificial Intelligence also holds the potential to worsen discriminatory practices, reinforcing historic systems of racism and inequality that predate AI.
Through algorithms, prejudice is every so often inscribed into AI predictions and outcomes which is often discriminatory of black and brown people. After all, AI is built by humans and deployed in systems and institutions that are rooted in discrimination.
In 2019, a national study in the United States found that over 100 facial recognition algorithms didn’t work proficiently on certain ethnicities. With black men being the most mistakenly identified.
In February 2019, Mr Nijeer Parks a black man was accused and arrested for theft and attempt to attack a police officer in Woodbridge, New Jersey, he was jailed for 10 days and had to pay $5,000 in fees to defend himself for crimes he didn’t commit because of a wrong facial recognition match. This is just one of many examples.
Meezaan and Geneva International Center for Justice call on all states to apply all relevant human rights instruments with regards to digital technologies as mentioned in the DDPA in order to tackle racial discrimination and disparities experienced by marginalized ethnicities because of AI algorithms.