Kinanya Pijl nominated for award best Master’s thesis Utrecht University

UCALL researcher Kinanya Pijl has been nominated for the award for Utrecht University’s best Master’s Thesis 2014-2015. From a total of 20 candidates who had been selected by the various faculties, three candidates have been nominated for this prestigious award. The winner of the award will be announced during the ceremonial opening of the Academic Year on 31 August 2015 at the Dom Church in Utrecht.
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Kinanya’s Master’s thesis deals with the responsibilities of ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) where it comes to respecting the human rights of third parties. ICANN is an international private organisation with an important (semi-)public role: managing the internet’s infrastructure in the public interest. This role includes, among other things, the exclusive competence to assign internet domain names on a global scale.

The international position of power that ICANN derives from its semi-public role raises the question to what extent the organisation’s activities are in line with the responsibilities to respect human rights that follow from the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Kinanya’s study shows that ICANN’s policies and procedures are inconsistent with fundamental rights as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights in various ways. Her study also shows that there are no accountability mechanisms that function as a check on the powers of ICANN and of its Board of Directors more specifically.

Kinanya demonstrates that there is a clear and pressing need for the development of effective safeguards to guarantee the human rights compliance of ICANN and to prevent abuse of power within the organisation. She provides a number of proposals to this effect.

Kinanya, who is currently working as a researcher for the Utrecht Centre of Accountability and Liability Law, has written her Master’s Thesis under the supervision of Dr. Tina van der Linden-Smith. In September 2015, she will join the European University Institute in Florence, where she will work on a doctoral research project within the field of Business & Human Rights.

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