On Wednesday 9 March 2022, The Council of Europe’s Digital Development Unit held a webinar on the human rights and legal aspects of blockchain technology.
The event included the presentations by prominent law and technology researchers, Professors Florence G'sell, University of Lorraine and Florian Martin-Bariteau, University of Ottawa, who have conducted research on the topic commissioned by the Council of Europe.
The discussion focused on the upcoming report summarising the results of the research and was supplemented with contributions by Professors Souichirou Kozuka, Gakushuin University, and Michèle Finck, University of Tübingen, followed by the audience Q&A session.
The researchers and discussants underlined the opportunities brought by blockchain technologies for human rights and democracy and also highlighted certain associated legal issues.
Among other matters, the webinar participants addressed the promises of decentralised identity management and the concept of self-sovereign identity, the use of blockchains in democratic processes such as elections and for humanitarian purposes, such as aid and refugee management. Other discussed issues included privacy preservation in blockchains, the application of conflicts of laws rules, as well as concerns around decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
The event featured opening and closing remarks by the Council of Europe representatives: Claudia Luciani, Director, Human Dignity, Equality and Governance, Jan Kleijssen, Director, Information Society – Action against Crime and Patrick Penninckx, Head of the Information Society Department.
They have underlined the importance of the study discussed during the webinar, especially taking note of potential humanitarian and democracy-preserving applications of blockchain technologies in the current political context.
Video of the webinar will published later this month, and the report containing the results of the study - in April, on the webpage dedicated to AI & Digital Development webinars.