Microsoft Awards $5 Million to UN Human Rights Office

Microsoft Corp. has announced a $5 million grant to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) to support the development of advanced technology that can be used to better predict, analyze, and respond to critical human rights situations.

The grant, the largest contribution ever to OHCHR from a private-sector entity, was awarded as part of a five-year partnership between Microsoft and the UN office focused on developing and deploying technology solutions designed to advance human rights around the world. One such solution, Rights View, is an information "dashboard" designed by Microsoft that will utilize cloud technology to allow UN human rights staff to aggregate large quantities of data on specific countries and types of rights violations in real time.

"As a global company that sees the problems of the world, we believe that we have a responsibility to help solve them," said Microsoft president Brad Smith. "We have an untapped opportunity to use the power of technology to collect data, analyze that data, and equip the United Nations to advance human rights around the world."

To that end, Microsoft also will work with OHCHR to raise awareness of the role business can play in supporting human rights and promote more responsible business practices around the world, including broader adoption and implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, a global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse impacts on human rights linked to business activity.

"This could be a truly groundbreaking agreement," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. "We live in a rapidly evolving age, where technology can either be used to solve human rights problems or misused to erode human rights. Similarly, companies can infringe people’s rights, or they can be a major progressive force."