Artificial intelligence: Partnership between UNESCO and the EU to speed up the implementation of ethical rules

UNESCO and the European Commission have just signed an agreement to accelerate global implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on the ethics of artificial intelligence adopted in November 2021 by the 193 Member States of the Organization. A budget of €4 million will be dedicated to supporting the least developed countries in the establishment of their national legislation.

Since November 2021, the UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence provides a common normative framework for all countries around the world. Nearly 30 countries have already started using this Recommendation to establish national legislation ensuring that artificial intelligence respects fundamental freedoms and human rights, and benefits all humanity.

“In the face of the pressing challenges posed by AI, we need to move faster by providing more support to the low-income countries. I commend the decision of the European Commission to join forces with UNESCO in supporting these countries, by financing the mobilization of experts and the organization of training. This is multilateral cooperation at its best”, said Audrey Azoulay UNESCO Director-General.

At a moment where concerns over generative AI are growing, the partnership between UNESCO and the European Commission will help low-income countries to develop their strategies and regulations at the national level. The European Commission will provide funding of €4 million.

Among the actions made possible by this Agreement, UNESCO will establish and operationalize a global facility of experts, “AI Ethics Experts without Borders” (AIEB), to provide on-demand support and tailored policy advice to enhance the capacity of Member States’ institutions to implement the Recommendation.

UNESCO will deliver an annual “Global Forum on the Ethics of AI” as a platform for structured learning and sharing of global best practices among AI stakeholders worldwide. UNESCO will also develop a toolkit for judicial operators on AI.

About the Recommendation

The UNESCO Recommendation is the first universal normative framework for the ethics of artificial intelligence. It was adopted unanimously by the 193 Member States of UNESCO in November 2021. It is based on the promotion and protection human rights, human dignity, and environmental sustainability. It advances principles such as accountability, and the rule of law, and includes concrete policy chapters that call for better data governance, inclusivity and gender equality.

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