Council of Europe Approves First International Treaty Regulating AI

The Council of Europe unanimously approves the first international treaty regulating AI to protect human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, marking a significant step in responsible AI development.

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Mazhar Abbas
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Council of Europe Approves First International Treaty Regulating AI

Council of Europe Approves First International Treaty Regulating AI

The Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers (APCE) has unanimously approved the first international treaty regulating artificial intelligence (AI) to mitigate risks to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. The landmark treaty aims to ensure that AI systems are developed and used in a way that respects human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

The treaty establishes a comprehensive framework for the responsible development and use of AI, including requirements for transparency, accountability, and human oversight. It covers a wide range of areas, such as risk assessment, the protection of individuals from discrimination and manipulation, and calls for the creation of an independent monitoring mechanism to oversee its implementation.

Why this matters: The approval of this treaty constitutes a noteworthy advancement in the global effort to address the challenges posed by the rapid advancement of AI technology and to ensure its responsible and ethical use. It highlights the growing recognition of the need to proactively manage the societal implications of AI and ensure its advancement aligns with democratic principles and safeguards.

The treaty was developed through a collaborative process involving member states, civil society, and other stakeholders. It involves negotiations among Council of Europe member states, the EU, and non-European states like the US, Japan, and Canada. PACE expressed concern about the unequal treatment of public and private actors in the convention and urged member states to apply its provisions fully to private entities.

The approval of this treaty comes at a time when the rapid progress and evolution of AI is raising concerns about its potential negative impacts on fundamental rights and democratic processes. Major developments in 2024 include Google restructuring to enhance its focus on AI, a surge in Generative AI adoption in the Asia-Pacific region, and the European Union reaching a provisional deal on comprehensive laws regulating AI, including safeguards and limitations on law enforcement use.

In a statement following the approval, APCE President Tiny Kox emphasized the significance of the treaty, stating, "This is a historic moment. For the first time, we have a legally binding instrument that addresses the challenges posed by AI and sets out a clear framework for its development and use in line with our democratic values and human rights." The treaty will now be open for signature by member states and is expected to enter into force after ratification by a certain number of countries.

Key Takeaways

  • Council of Europe unanimously approved 1st intl treaty regulating AI to protect rights.
  • Treaty establishes framework for responsible AI development, incl. transparency, accountability.
  • Treaty aims to ensure AI aligns with human rights, democracy, and rule of law.
  • Treaty involves negotiations among Council of Europe, EU, US, Japan, Canada.
  • Treaty to be open for signature, expected to enter into force after ratification.