Microsoft and the United Nations today announced what they called a “landmark” five-year partnership to support human rights work.
The partnership includes a $5 million grant to the U.N. Human Rights Office. Microsoft will also help design advanced technology to better predict, analyze and respond to critical human rights situations. According to the U.N., human rights crises are proliferating around the world, even in areas seen as more stable, and technology solutions can help solve these increasingly complex problems.
“As a global company that sees the problems of the world, we believe that we have a responsibility to help solve them,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a statement. “We have an untapped opportunity to use the power of technology to collect data, analyze that data and equip the United Nations to advance human rights around the world.”
Microsoft and the U.N. posted the following video describing the partnership:
One example of tech coming out of the partnership is “Rights View,” a dashboard giving U.N. personnel the ability to aggregate and track internal and external data on specific countries and types of rights violations in real time. The tool is powered by cloud computing, and the U.N. says it will give early warning on critical issues.
The U.N. called its partnership with Microsoft an “unprecedented level of support from a private-sector organization.” Microsoft will also help raise awareness about the role of business in human rights and work on workplace policies focusing on freedom of expression, data protection and privacy, and inclusion.
“This could be a truly groundbreaking agreement,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said. “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.”