Michael E. Byczek
Attorney at Law

AI and the United Nations

The United Nations General Assembly released guidelines for AI on March 11, 2024 titled "Seizing the opportunities of safe, secure and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems for sustainable development". Relevant excepts are reproduced below.

The resolution described the AI life cycle stages as: "pre-design, design, development, evaluation, testing, deployment, use, sale, procurement, operation and decommissioning."

These life cycle must be "human-centric, reliable, explainable, ethical, inclusive, in full respect, promotion and protection of human rights and international law, privacy preserving, sustainable development oriented, and responsible."

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals should be achieved in a "balanced and integrated manner; promote digital transformation; promote peace; overcome digital divides between and within countries; and promote and protect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, while keeping the human person at the centre."

"Improper or malicious design, development, deployment and use of artificial intelligence systems, such as without adequate safeguards or in a manner inconsistent with international law, pose risks that could hinder progress towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals and undermine sustainable development in its three dimensions - economic, social and environmental; widen digital divides between and within countries; reinforce structural inequalities and biases; lead to discrimination; undermine information integrity and access to information; undercut the protection, promotion and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right not to be subject to unlawful or arbitrary interference with one's privacy; and increase the potential risk for accidents and compound threats from malicious actors."

Emphasis was highlighted that "human rights and fundamental freedoms must be respected, protected and promoted throughout the life cycle of artificial intelligence systems, calls upon all Member States and, where applicable, other stakeholders to refrain from or cease the use of artificial intelligence systems that are impossible to operate in compliance with international human rights law or that pose undue risks to the enjoyment of human rights, especially of those who are in vulnerable situations, and reaffirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including throughout the life cycle of artificial intelligence systems."

Encouragement for "effective measures, that promote innovation for the internationally interoperable identification, classification, evaluation, testing, prevention and mitigation of vulnerabilities and risks during the design and development and prior to the deployment and use of artificial intelligence systems."

The resolution has encouraged "development and deployment of effective, accessible, adaptable, internationally interoperable technical tools, standards or practices, including reliable content authentication and provenance mechanisms - such as watermarking or labelling, where technically feasible and appropriate, that enable users to identify information manipulation, distinguish or determine the origins of authentic digital content and artificial intelligence-generated or manipulated digital content - and increasing media and information literacy."

With regard to intellectual property, the resolution encouraged "appropriate safeguards to respect intellectual property rights, including copyright-protected content, while promoting innovation."

"Data is fundamental to the development and operation of artificial intelligence systems; emphasizes that the fair, inclusive, responsible and effective data governance, improving data generation, accessibility and infrastructure, and the use of digital public goods are essential to harnessing the potential of safe, secure and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems for sustainable development, and urges Member States to share best practices on data governance and to promote international cooperation, collaboration and assistance on data governance for greater consistency and interoperability, where feasible, of approaches for advancing trusted cross-border data flows for safe, secure and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems, and make its development more inclusive, equitable, effective and beneficial to all."


AI Advisory Board (United Nations) https://www.un.org/en/ai-advisory-body [Accessed 4/6/2024]

General Assembly adopts landmark resolution on Artificial Intelligence (United Nations) https://news.un.org/en/story/2024/03/1147831 [Accessed 4/6/2024]

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