New Models of Governance Must Address the Human Rights Challenges Raised by Artificial Intelligence

Photo of an art installation: The installation is made up of robots with eyes. When a user begins to interact with their smartphone, one of the robot eyes opens and begins looking around the room. When the interaction is over, the eye closes again. Photo of an art installation: The installation is made up of robots with eyes. When a user begins to interact with their smartphone, one of the robot eyes opens and begins looking around the room. When the interaction is over, the eye closes again.

2 March 2020

Artificial intelligence (AI) is bound to enable innovation in the decades to come. On the one hand, AI technologies may be used to improve societal well-being and help fight human rights abuses. On the other hand, AI presents a variety of challenges that can profoundly affect the respect for and protection of human rights. Therefore, it is important to place international human rights law (IHRL) at the centre of discussions about AI governance.

Our New Research Brief Human Rights and the Governance of Artificial Intelligence discusses the opportunities and risks that AI represents for human rights, recalls that IHRL should occupy a central place in the governance of AI and outlines two additional avenues to regulation: public procurement and standardization.

Written by Dr Ana Beduschi, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Exeter, the paper also calls for a more coordinated approach – under the United Nations leadership – that breaks silos and goes beyond sectoral and specialized audiences.

‘This paper manages to clearly present key challenges that AI raises for the promotion and protection of human rights and proposes solid and feasible pathways to ensure that AI does not infringe upon human rights. In an area where the debate is often blurry and the stakeholders do not speak the same language or understand the same concepts, it addresses everyone involved in the regulation of AI: the private sector with notably the technology industry, governments, international organizations, civil society and academia’ underlines Felix Kirchmeier, Manager of Policy Studies at the Geneva Academy and Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

Going Beyond Ethical Frameworks: Placing Human Rights at the Centre of the Governance of AI

Recently, a profusion of initiatives from a variety of actors spanning from the technology industry to international and regional organizations, academia and civil society, have focused on establishing ethical frameworks for the design and implementation of AI solutions.

‘While these are valuable initiatives that propose to identify core ethical principles applicable to AI, IHRL should also be taken into consideration as it provides a legally binding framework for dealing with potential human rights violations’ explains Dr Ana Beduschi.

Two Additional Avenues for Regulation: Public Procurement and Standardization

Regulation is certainly important, in particular concerning data protection and privacy. Nonetheless, new models of governance, placed alongside regulatory frameworks and existing human rights instruments, are also needed.

‘In this paper, I identify two additional avenues to regulation that guarantee that IHRL occupies a prominent place in the governance of AI: public procurement and standardization’ underlines Dr Ana Beduschi.

A Need for Coordinated Efforts

As shown by the multitude of initiatives on AI, most stakeholders tend to operate in silos and produce multiple reports, guidelines, blueprints and statements of principles which often fail to reach beyond sectoral and specialized audiences.

‘The UN should take the lead and bring these stakeholders together, coordinating their efforts to tackle the challenges posed by AI and ensuring that human rights are firmly embedded into the design, development and deployment of AI systems across the globe’ stresses Dr Ana Beduschi.

The Outcome of the Author’s Fellowship at the Geneva Academy

This Research Brief is the result of the research that Dr Ana Beduschi carried out during a three-month fellowship at the Geneva Academy.

‘I am particularly grateful for the opportunity to engage and interact with the Geneva Academy researchers, staff, and experts. The friendly and productive ambience at Villa Moynier allowed me to develop my research on artificial intelligence and reflect on its implications for the protection of human rights in the digital age.’

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Photo of a flyer of the Geneva Human Rights Platform News

The Geneva Human Rights Platform in 2020

24 January 2020

In 2020, the Geneva Human Rights Platform will continue to work on the connectivity of human rights mechanisms, broadening the scope by also looking at the connectivity of Geneva-based human rights bodies with regional mechanisms in Africa, the Americas and Europe.

Read more

View of the UN Human Rights Council News

New Book Provides a Unique Practitioner’s Insight into the Work of the UN Human Rights Council

4 May 2020

The new book The Human Rights Council: A Practical Anatomy by Eric Tistounet, Chief of the Human Rights Council Branch at OHCHR, is the outcome of a six-months research fellowship carried out by the author at the Geneva Academy.

Read more

Logo of the Atlas Network Event

Women's perspectives on a career in international law

15 July 2020, 13:00-14:15

In this online event co-organized with the ATLAS Network, prominent women in international law will share their experience and advice through an interactive discussion.

Read more

A general view of participants during of the 33nd ordinary session of the Human Rights Council. Training

The Universal Periodic Review and the UN Human Rights System: Raising the Bar on Accountability

2-6 November 2020

This training course will explore the origin and evolution of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and its functioning in Geneva and will focus on the nature of implementation of the UPR recommendations at the national level.

Read more

Session of the UN Human Rights Committee Project

Treaty Body Review 2020

Started in January 2018

The Geneva Human Rights Platform contributes to this review process by providing expert input via different avenues, by facilitating dialogue on the review among various stakeholders, as well as by accompanying the development of a follow-up resolution to 68/268 in New York and in Geneva.

Read more

Cover page of the manual Publication

#ESCR AND #SDGs: Practical Manual on the Role of UN Human Rights Mechanisms in Monitoring the SDGs that Seek to Realize Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

published on July 2020

Christophe Golay

Read more