UN approves first resolution on AI in bid to make it safe and secure

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield addresses a meeting of the United Nations Security Council
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield addresses a meeting of the United Nations Security Council Copyright AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File
Copyright AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File
By Euronews with AP
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The adopted resolution will seize the opportunities of safe, secure, and trustworthy AI systems for sustainable development.


The General Assembly approved the first United Nations resolution on artificial intelligence on Thursday, giving global support to an international effort to ensure the powerful new technology benefits all nations, respects human rights and is "safe, secure and trustworthy".

The resolution, sponsored by the United States and co-sponsored by 123 countries, was adopted by consensus with a bang of the gavel and without a vote, meaning it has the support of all 193 UN member nations.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said earlier this month that adoption of the resolution would be a "historic step forward" in fostering the safe use of AI.

The resolution "would represent global support for a baseline set of principles for the development and use of AI and would lay out a path to leverage AI systems for good while managing the risks," he said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The United States worked with more than 120 countries - including Russia, China and Cuba - over several months to negotiate the text, senior US officials said.

"In a moment in which the world is seen to be agreeing on little, perhaps the most quietly radical aspect of this resolution is the wide consensus forged in the name of advancing progress," US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the assembly just before the vote.

"The United Nations and artificial intelligence are contemporaries, both born in the years following the Second World War," she said. 

"The two have grown and evolved in parallel. Today, as the UN and AI finally intersect we have the opportunity and the responsibility to choose as one united global community to govern this technology rather than let it govern us".

After the vote, ambassadors from the Bahamas, Japan, the Netherlands, Morocco, Singapore, and the United Kingdom joined the US ambassador at a news conference to support the resolution as an important step for all nations.

Global regulation of AI

The resolution aims to close the digital divide between rich developed countries and poorer developing countries and make sure they are all at the table in discussions on AI. 

It also aims to make sure that developing countries have the technology and capabilities to take advantage of AI's benefits, including detecting diseases, predicting floods, helping farmers, and training the next generation of workers.

The resolution recognizes the rapid acceleration of AI development and use and stresses "the urgency of achieving global consensus on safe, secure, and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems".

It also recognises that "the governance of artificial intelligence systems is an evolving area" that needs further discussions on possible governance approaches.

Big tech companies generally have supported the need to regulate AI, while lobbying to ensure any rules work in their favor.

European Union lawmakers gave final approval on March 13 to the world’s first comprehensive AI rules, which are on track to take effect by May or June after a few final formalities.

Countries around the world, including the US and China, and the Group of 20 major industrialized nations are also moving to draw up AI regulations. 

The UN resolution takes note of other UN efforts including by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the International Telecommunication Union to ensure that AI is used to benefit the world.

Sullivan told AP the United States turned to the General Assembly “to have a truly global conversation on how to manage the implications of the fast-advancing technology of AI.”


The resolution encourages all countries, regional and international organizations, tech communities, civil society, the media, academia, research institutions and individuals “to develop and support regulatory and governance approaches and frameworks” for safe AI systems.

It warns against "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".

A key goal, according to the resolution, is to use AI to help spur progress toward achieving the UN's badly lagging development goals for 2030, including ending global hunger and poverty, improving health worldwide, ensuring quality secondary education for all children and achieving gender equality.

The resolution calls on the 193 UN" member states and others to assist developing countries to access the benefits of digital transformation and safe AI systems. It "emphasises that human rights and fundamental freedoms must be respected, protected and promoted through the life cycle of artificial intelligence systems".

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