WASHINGTON, DC/AMSTERDAM/LONDON – International human rights expert David Kaye will join the Global Network Initiative as the new independent chair of its Board of Directors. Mr. Kaye will assume his position later this Fall upon completing his term as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. In addition to holding this important role since August 2014, he is also a clinical professor of law at the University of California Irvine School of Law where he directs the International Justice Clinic.

During his time as UN Special Rapporteur, an independent expert mandated to monitor freedom of expression for the UN Human Rights Council, Mr. Kaye addressed multiple topics central to GNI’s mission. He published landmark reports on issues at the intersection of State action, the private sector, and freedom of expression in the digital age.

In welcoming Mr. Kaye as the independent chair, GNI’s Executive Director Judith Lichtenberg noted that, “David is one of the world’s leading intellectual and moral voices on human rights and technology policy. We could not think of a better person to lead GNI into our second decade of work at the intersection of these key issues.”

Mr. Kaye will succeed Mark Stephens, CBE, a London-based partner at the law firm Howard Kennedy, and an internationally recognized and respected human rights and free expression lawyer and advocate. GNI is immensely grateful for Mr. Stephens’ many contributions over the years, including leading the expansion of GNI’s Board through the addition of telecommunications and equipment manufacturing companies to its membership and the organization’s work to promote freedom of expression and privacy when countering extremism online. Happily, Mr. Stephens graciously agreed to extend his mandate after completing his second and final three-year term in April 2020, to secure a smooth independent chair transition.

“David’s outstanding record speaking on behalf of human rights is unquestionable, as is his long-standing dedication to constructive engagement with different stakeholders from governments and international organizations, to civil society and academic institutions, to companies around the world,” said Mr. Stephens. “His experience and leadership will help strengthen GNI’s commitment to diversity and inclusion at a time when GNI is extending its reach to underrepresented regions and communities and becoming an increasingly global multistakeholder initiative.”

“Over the years, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with many GNI members and referred to the GNI Principles as a leading standard for free expression and privacy. I look forward to working with GNI members to promote the application of international human rights law in the technology sector,” said David Kaye.

Mr. Kaye will lead the next term of GNI’s Board of Directors, which was elected in April and will serve until 2023. GNI’s constituencies (ICT companies, civil society organizations, academics and academic institutions, and investors) nominate and select their own representatives on the board to preserve a diversity of experience, insights, and perspectives in pursuit of freedom of expression and privacy rights.

Quotes from the GNI Board

“As a board member representing GNI’s NGO constituency, I am thrilled to welcome David Kaye to the GNI Board and I look forward to his support in our continuing efforts to diversify GNI’s broad membership,” said Kat Duffy, Vice President of Global Technology Programs at Internews and GNI NGO Board member.

“I look forward to David’s leadership to help the organization navigate the evolving global policy and technology landscape with governments, companies, and advocates alike as we continue our efforts to promote transparency and protect freedom of expression and privacy rights,” said Laura Okkonen, Senior Human Rights Manager at Vodafone Group and a GNI Board member since 2017.”

“David brings first-class experience protecting human rights and promoting a culture of diverse expression. It will be a pleasure to work with him in the years to come,” said Lillian Nalwoga, Program Manager at CIPESA and newly elected GNI NGO Board member.

“At Microsoft we have a long-standing commitment to respect human rights. In our Global Human Right Statement, we note that in these efforts we are strongest when we work in partnerships and multi-stakeholder collaborations with others. Our engagement with GNI is a great example of this approach. We are delighted that David has accepted this new role and welcome him to GNI. Based on experience working with him for many years we are confident that David’s skills and passions will assist GNI – companies and other stakeholders alike – to do even more together to live up to the aspirations that underlie the GNI Principles,” said Steve Crown, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Microsoft Corporation and GNI Board member.

“In India we have always counted on David Kaye to speak on behalf of Internet freedom, particularly when network disruptions continue to be on the rise. Now we have the opportunity of working together in the GNI Board to continue protecting civil liberties for all in the digital world,” said Mishi Choudhary, Legal Director of SFLC, New York, Founder of SFLC.in and newly elected GNI NGO Board member.

“Orange is an early signatory of the United Nations Global Compact and reports to David Kaye as UN Special Rapporteur on the responsibilities of private stakeholders in the ICT sector and the challenges to protect freedom of expression within the sector. We look forward to engaging with David in his new role,” said Yves Nissim, Deputy Chief CSR Officer at Orange and GNI Board member.

“David Kaye’s work has raised awareness of modern threats to freedom of expression in Latin America, like state surveillance and the provision of surveillance technologies by private companies, and further developing human rights standards through his reports and advocacy,” said María Paz Canales, Executive Director at Derechos Digitales and alternate GNI NGO Board member. “His experience will bring important lessons for all stakeholders that are part of GNI, to effectively take into account the human rights impact of the ICT sector,” she added.

“As a founding member of GNI, Google continues to grow and benefit from the shared learning opportunities offered by GNI and the sustained involvement of its leadership. Previous GNI Independent Chairs Jermyn Brooks and Mark Stephens have been central to GNI’s growth and David Kaye will surely build on their legacy,” said Lewis Segall, Senior Counsel, Global Ethics and Compliance at Google and GNI Board member.

“As a civil society representative of the GNI Board, I look forward to working with David Kaye guiding our multistakeholder efforts to address emerging challenges at the intersection of digital policy, human rights, and social impact,” said Charles Bradley, Executive Director at Global Partners Digital and GNI NGO Board member.

“GNI’s mission has never been more vital. We stand at the intersection of governments and corporate-provided digital services that we have all come to depend upon for virtually every aspect of our lives. David Kaye is the ideal person to stand with us and help steer the next phase of GNI’s growth. We are privileged to have the benefit of his insights and his leadership as a globally respected, pragmatic advocate for human rights,” said Adam Kanzer from BNP Paribas Asset Management and GNI Investor Board member.

“David Kaye is both an accomplished academic and activist not for any one group or ideology, but for the values of freedom of expression and privacy. He will strengthen GNI’s external efforts against government censorship and surveillance, as well as internally promote these values among all GNI members. This is an important validation of what GNI stands for,” said K.S. Park, Professor at the Korea University Law School and GNI Academic Board member.