Human Rights, SDGs, and AI — UN Adopts Landmark Resolution

Led by the U.S., the resolution stresses the imperative of respecting human rights in AI development and deployment, advocating for a balance between online and offline rights.
Representative image of the UN General Assembly in session.
Representative image of the UN General Assembly in session.Source: UN Photo

The United Nations General Assembly recently approved a landmark resolution focusing on fostering "safe, secure, and trustworthy" AI systems to achieve sustainable development. Without dissent, the Assembly adopted a resolution spearheaded by the U.S., emphasizing the importance of upholding human rights throughout the AI lifecycle.

The resolution garnered support from over 120 member states. Acknowledging AI's potential to accelerate progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it marks the Assembly's first resolution addressing regulation in this emerging domain.

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Representative image of the UN General Assembly in session.

Furthermore, the resolution calls upon all stakeholders to collaborate in establishing regulatory frameworks for the safe and responsible use of AI. Recognizing the disparities in technological growth worldwide, it urges support for developing nations to bridge the digital divide and enhance digital literacy.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield expresses hope that the collaborative approach seen in crafting this resolution would serve as a blueprint for addressing AI challenges in other domains, such as peace, security, and military applications.

“The inclusive and constructive dialogue that led to this resolution would serve as a model for future conversations on AI challenges in other arenas, for example, with respect to peace and security and responsible military use of AI autonomy,” says Thomas-Greenfield.  She emphasizes the international community's duty to govern AI ethically and ensure its deployment aligns with human rights and sustainable development objectives.

This resolution is intended to complement existing UN efforts and pave the way for future initiatives, including negotiations for a Global Digital Compact. It underscores the need for AI to be developed and leveraged with a focus on human dignity, safety, and security, committing to leveraging technology to narrow global disparities and advance shared priorities.

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