Automation and the International Human Right to Work

22 Pages Posted: 15 May 2021

See all articles by Martin Kwan

Martin Kwan

OBOR Legal Research Centre

Date Written: May 13, 2021


Automation continues to result in significant structural changes to the nature of work as computers, robots, or Artificial Intelligence (AI) are performing an increasing number of jobs. These technologies have elevated the possibilities for human prosperity and innovation, but job loss, privacy infringements, and the increasing agency of robotic systems are all acknowledged risks. These concerns are not new. In 1948, when delegates from 48 countries came together to sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), they sought to capture in words what a “good human life” meant, which included the "right to work." Human rights instruments, like the UDHR, provide a useful framework for analyzing the risks and ramifications of technological development in automation. As such, this Article examines how technology is exacerbating "right to work" violations and increasing the need for "right to work" protections in order to proactively respond to the negative effects of an increasingly automated world.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, AI, Science, Technology, Machine Learning, Automatic, Robotics, Robots, Law, Job, Occupation, Development, Physics, Computer, Programming, Factory, Gigafactory, Electronic, Chip, Data, Big Data, Blockchain

Suggested Citation

Kwan, Martin, Automation and the International Human Right to Work (May 13, 2021). Emory International Law Review Recent Developments, Vol. 35, 2021, Available at SSRN:

Martin Kwan (Contact Author)

OBOR Legal Research Centre ( email )


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