UNITED NATIONS  - A United Nations committee Tuesday adopted a resolution on potential threats to human rights such as the right to privacy in the digital age in the wake of concerns over US surveillance worldwide.

“Through this resolution, the United Nations establishes, for the first time, that human rights should prevail irrespective of the medium and therefore need to be protected both offline and online,” a representative of Brazil, the resolution’s co-sponsor, said.

The draft, approved without a vote, by the General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) calls on member states “to review their procedures, practices and legislation regarding the surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data, including mass surveillance, interception and collection, with a view to upholding the right to privacy by ensuring the full and effective implementation of all their obligations under international human rights law.”

It notes that new technologies that increase the ability for surveillance, interception and data collection by governments, companies and individuals “may violate or abuse human rights, in particular the right to privacy.” The mainly symbolic resolution was co-sponsored by Brazil and Germany, both countries whose leaders were reportedly spied on by the U.S. National Security Agency. German officials said in October that U.S. intelligence agencies may have spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone. There have also been reports that the U.S. also spied on Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff among other leaders.

The resolution does not name the NSA or its surveillance programmes, details of which were leaked since June by its former CIA contractor Edward Snowden, but evidently reflects concerns among governments around the world on the impact of international surveillance on its people and leaders.

The draft resolution, which will now go to the General Assembly next month, was watered down in some parts under pressure from the U.S. and some other countries, according to reports. A reference in the original proposal to concerns about potential “human rights violations and abuses” that may result in particular from “massive surveillance, interception and data collection” was, for example, modified. The NSA is accused of dragnet surveillance both in the U.S. and abroad.

Following the approval, some delegates stressed the need for agreed international human rights mechanisms in relation to ensuring privacy and freedom of expression.

Some expressed regret over the lack of a specific reference to such mechanisms in the draft, while others applauded the consensus as a clear international reaction to the national and extraterritorial electronic surveillance activities conducted by the   United States.

Katitza Rodriguez, international rights director of digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in a statement that although the resolution passed is not as strong as the original, it is “a meaningful and very positive step” for the privacy rights of individuals, regardless of their countries.

Elizabeth Cousens, US representative to the U.N. Economic and Social Council, said the country remains committed to working with all states to promote freedom of expression and privacy online. Cousens was explaining her government’s position on the resolution. “In some cases, conduct that violates privacy rights may also seriously impede or even prevent the exercise of freedom of expression, but conduct that violates privacy rights does not violate the right to freedom of expression in every case,” she added.