Presentation of the Report: The Impact of Blockchains for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law

Tuesday, January 10, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
  • Florence G'sell
flyer for florence g'sell seminar with headshot of florence on red background

Join the Cyber Policy Center, together with the Program on Democracy and the Internet, for a discussion with Florence G'sell, Professor of Law at University of Lorraine and Chair of the Sciences Po Digital Governance and Sovereignty Chair, on the new report of the Council of EuropeThe Impact of Blockchains for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law.

Blockchain technology presents an opportunity for governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, industry stakeholders, and, more generally, members of the public to engage in the recognition of and respect for human rights as well as to resolve current human rights issues. Although the technology is most often associated with cryptocurrencies and other financial instruments or assets, development of decentralized applications and “smart contracts” also allows for the deployment of systems to manage anything from digital identities to medical records, land titles and zoning registries, intellectual property rights, digital identity, voting systems, supply chain and aid.

The report entitled “The Impact of Blockchains for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law” explores the risks and potential benefits of blockchain technology for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. It presents different use opportunities in line with the Council of Europe’s global democratic agenda to advance democratic functions and ensure accountability and transparency. The report also discusses some of the legal issues that may arise from the use of this technology, with emphasis on matters that may welcome leadership from the Council of Europe in regards to the protection of anonymity and privacy rights; the legal status of automated contracts and decentralized autonomous organizations; and the conflict of law and jurisdiction due to the distributed and global nature.

This session is part of the Winter Seminar Series, a series spanning January through March, hosted at the Cyber Policy Center with the Program on Democracy and the Internet. Sessions are in-person and virtual, with in-person attendance offered to Stanford affiliates only. Lunch is provided for in-person attendance.

For a full list of dates, speakers and topics, see the Winter Seminar page and register for sessions of interest.


Florence G’SELL is a professor of private law at the University of Lorraine and leads the Digital, Governance and Sovereignty Chair at Sciences Po. She began her academic career working mainly on tort law, judicial systems and comparative law. For the past several years, she has been working on digital law and in particular on issues related to the regulation of on line platforms, the way law can deal with new technologies (Blockchain, Metaverse), the notion of digital sovereignty and, more generally, digital policies in the EU and the US.

She has edited and published several books on digital issues, including Le Big Data et le Droit (Dalloz, 2021) and Justice Numérique (Dalloz, 2022). Recently, she published “Les réseaux sociaux, entre encadrement et auto-régulation” (Sciences Po, Digital, Governance and Sovereignty Chair, 2021), “AI Judges” (in Larry A. Dimatteo, Cristina Poncibo, Michel Cannarsa (edit. ), The Cambridge Handbook of Artificial Intelligence, Global Perspectives on Law and Ethics, Cambridge University Press, 2022), and co-authored the Council of Europe report entitled “The Impact of Blockchains for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law” (with Florian Martin-Bariteau, 2022).

Florence G’sell is a graduate of Sciences Po and holds the French “agrégation de droit privé et sciences criminelles”. She has been invited several times at the University of Chicago and, more recently, at Stanford University. At Sciences Po, she teaches the course “Comment pensent les juristes” to undergraduate students and the course “Comparative Approach to Big Tech Regulation” in the Master of Public Policy of the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs.