Technology and Human Rights: Law, Governance and Policy

The course contributes to the debates on ethical questions in the wake of contemporary science and technology developments, and the consequent challenges to the public policy and governance/​regulation issues in our times.

The LLM in Law and Development programme has a key focus area of exploring ethical resolution of critical public policy problems’. The post-War developments in science and technology present a wide range of conceptual and policy concerns. These concerns at a conceptual and/​or theoretical level have been articulated through such influential rubrics as Technological Society’ (Jacques Ellul, 1966), Risk Society’ (Ulrich Beck, 1992), Network Society’ (Manuel Castells, 2006) etc. The chief characteristic of these conceptualisations is the emergency of techno-science’ as the dominant force in transforming social attitudes and behaviour, a position hitherto held by law. This condition presents, first a fundamental challenge to the role and function of law as the binding thread of the human communities, and second exposes law’s inadequacies or even incapacities in meaningfully regulating/​governing rapid developments in techno-science. The imagination of law and human rights being reduced to being Slumbering Sentinels’ (Christopher Weeramantry, 1984) by developments in techno-science is both a sombre reminder of the rapidly changing context of social attitudes and growing inability of the sovereign constitutionalism in governing techno-science. These challenges are constantly played in the everyday context often as rights concerns’, for human rights has emerged during the last seventy years as a clearly articulated ethical consensus of the global community. Thus, the state is frequently faced with the challenge of balancing the interests of citizen privacy rights in the constantly evolving networked social medial world, or protecting privacy while providing security, or protecting the dignity and sanctity of life forms in the wake of demands for their increased commodification. This course engages with these debates and presents possibilities of meaningful scrutiny of the challenges and a way forward. This course particularly focuses on three key sites of techno-science advancements, namely, digital, bio and automation technologies.