Feb 28, 2024

Inclusive Law-making & Intelligent Assistive Technologies

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The Research Problem

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Convention) was signed in 2006 and it specifies the civil and political rights of people with disabilities. Its implementation has remained a challenge for many states. In many areas, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technology is presented as a means to solve challenges faced by States. One of them, being to make political processes more inclusive. The development and deployment of AI raise hopes, but it also generates fears with regard to its potentially harmful effects on human rights. The burgeoning development of intelligent assistive technologies (IAT) for people with disabilities offers an opportunity to analyse the risks and benefits of the use of IAT in the exercise of political participation.

Research Design

This project aims to look at the risks and opportunities that intelligent assistive technologies present to fulfil the political rights of people with disabilities within legislative processes. Grounded in a socio-legal approach, the project describes through in-depth case studies, how parliaments in Brazil, Switzerland and South Africa have or could use intelligent assistive technologies to ensure the fulfilment of the political rights of people with disabilities. It then proceeds to analyse how these cases fulfil obligations set up in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but also to enlighten their risks. Throughout the study, an intersectional lens will be applied in order to uncover potential double discrimination regarding race and gender. The project will contribute more broadly to better grasp how technology can contribute to or hinder participation from marginalised groups in law-making as well as provide legislatures with recommendations to increase inclusivity.

Project Objectives

This project aims to achieve impact on both an academic and societal level. At the academic level, the results will be published in an high-impact journal, where the contribution of the three areas of expertise (disability rights, legal drafting, law and technology) will be disseminated. The project goes beyond academia, aiming to produce a policy paper directed at the participating parliaments. This policy paper offers practical recommendations derived from the research, aimed at making political processes more inclusive and improving the participation of people with disabilities in lawmaking processes. Further, the research outcomes are also relevant for civil society organisations focusing on disability rights and the use of technology in the public sector. Private companies involved in developing technological tools can use the research to ensure their products and solutions contribute to the realization of human rights.
A conference will be organised thanks to WUN’s generous funding, in February 2025 in Switzerland, to discuss the findings and share them with stakeholders and the general public.