Neurotechnology and Human Rights

Started in August 2023


This project addresses the human rights implications stemming from the development of neurotechnology for commercial, non-therapeutic ends.

These implications include direct externalities (violation of the rights to privacy, property, freedom from discrimination etc.) and indirect externalities (spillovers for social cohesion, equality and inter-group tolerance). As corporate actors become the main producers and disseminators of neurotechnology, managing these risks will require enhanced multilateral cooperation towards the development of a common regulatory framework. A key challenge in this regard is the complex nature of neurotechnology coupled with the traditional ‘siloing’ between human rights, neuroscience and corporate communities of practice.


To overcome these barriers, this project – supported by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) – is based on a partnership between the Geneva Academy, the Geneva University Neurocentre and the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) Advisory Committee.

It aims at empowering key stakeholders with a common understanding of the principal risks with a view to strengthening the international human rights framework and crafting effective regulation.

In terms of methodology, the project will work with a pluri-disciplinary group of ethicists, technologists, human rights practitioners, conflict specialists and social economists to provide technical guidance, brainstorm solutions and validate the work of the core research team.

The findings will directly feed into (i) the report to the HRC at its 59th session and (ii) the development of soft law guidelines on the development and use of neurotechnology in conformity with human rights.

Dissemination and sensitization will separately target states, academia and the technology and corporate sectors with a view to these groups incorporating human rights perspectives into their innovation practices, product development and internal regulatory frameworks.


neurotechnology graphics News

New Research Brief Discusses Current Legal and Ethical Concerns Around Neurotechnology

28 May 2024

Our latest Research Brief Between Science-Fact and Science-Fiction: Innovation and Ethics in Neurotechnology highlights the need for a robust regulatory framework around neurotechnology that can simultaneously foster innovation and protect human rights.

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A person with a portable brain scanner News

New Paper Sets the Scene for Neurotechnology Regulation and the Role of Human Rights

4 December 2023

Our new Research Brief The Evolving Neurotechnology Landscape: Examining the Role and Importance of Human Rights in Regulation provides a comprehensive background analysis on the complexities of regulating neurotechnology and the role of human rights in this process and marks the inception of our research project on neurotechnology and human rights.

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Portrait of Jonathan Andrew

Jonathan Andrew

Research Fellow

Dr Andrew conducts research on the nexus of human rights law with the development of neurotechnologies, emerging issues stemming from new technologies’ use in the military domain, and the deployment of dual-use technologies by law enforcement.

Milena Costas

Milena Costas

Research Fellow

Milena Costas is a human rights expert and law-practitioner and a member of the UN Human Rights Council’s Advisory Committee.

Portrait of Timo Istache

Timo Istace

Associate Researcher

His areas of expertise encompass human rights law, medical law, philosophy of law, and bioethics.


Cover Page of Research Brief

Between Science-Fact and Science-Fiction Innovation and Ethics in Neurotechnology

May 2024

Milena Costas, Timo Istace

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Cover page of the Research Brief

The Evolving Neurotechnology Landscape: Examining the Role and Importance of Human Rights in Regulation

December 2023

Erica Harper

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Download >


Stavros Pantazopoulos News

Our New Visiting Fellow: Stavros Pantazopoulos

9 February 2024

Dr Stavros-Evdokimos Pantazopoulos will focus, during his fellowship at the Geneva Academy, on the protection of the environment in armed conflict and will notably address the initiative to criminalize conflict-related environmental harm, placing the emphasis on the crime of ecocide. 

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world map in data lines News

New Publication Explores the Human Rights Data Revolution

2 April 2024

The Human Rights Data Revolution details the transformation which promises to enhance the effectiveness, inclusivity, and scope of human rights monitoring and implementation worldwide.

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View of a session of the UN Human Rights Committee Training

The International Human Rights Standards and System: Monitoring and Implementation Strategies at the National Level

8-12 July 2024

This training course will delve into the means and mechanisms through which national actors can best coordinate their human rights monitoring and implementation efforts, enabling them to strategically navigate the UN human rights system and use the various mechanisms available in their day-to-day work.

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Open dump Training

Protecting Human Rights and the Environment

2-20 September 2024

Participants in this training course, made of two modules, will examine the major international and regional instruments for the promotion of human rights and the environment, familiarizing themselves with the respective implementation and enforcement mechanisms.

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Computer screen with warning: civilian infrastucture: do not attack Project

The Digitalization of Armed Conflict

Started in September 2020

This project will explore humanitarian consequences and protection needs caused by the digitalization of armed conflicts and the extent to which these needs are addressed by international law, especially international humanitarian law.

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Iraq, Mosul. View of the west bank after the war. Project

IHL in Focus

Started in January 2024

As a yearly publication, it keeps decision-makers, practitioners and scholars up-to-date with the latest trends and challenges in IHL implementation in over 100 armed conflicts worldwide – both international and non-international.

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Cover Page of Research Brief Publication

Between Science-Fact and Science-Fiction Innovation and Ethics in Neurotechnology

published on May 2024

Milena Costas, Timo Istace

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