Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

International courts in an era of smartphones and social media – improving human rights accountability?

Videos shared on social media have become important evidence to hold perpetrators of human rights violations accountable. What does this increased use of digital open source evidence mean for the quality of international human rights accountability? Through an innovative experimental design, this project will help us understand the effects of digitalization on international criminal accountability.

2023 - 2024
Gisela Hirschmann

The increased use of digital open source material by international institutions has ushered in a “new era” of human rights accountability. How does the use of digital evidence impact the quality of international human rights accountability? To answer this research question, I argue that we need to investigate the micro foundations of digitalized accountability. Studying how individuals use digital information when enacting accountability will reveal crucial insights into the quality of digitalized accountability processes. This will help us understand not only under what conditions the use of digital sources makes international courts more efficient, but – even more importantly – what can be done to mitigate the effects of potential downsides of digitalized accountability, such as deep fakes and implicit biases in investigations and legal judgments.

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