Digital technologies in UN Secretary-General’s Policy Brief on a New Agenda for Peace
UN Secretary-General calls for the development of governance frameworks, multilateral accountability mechanisms, and regulations to address the risks and challenges posed by AI and other digital technologies in the context of peace and security.
As part of the process leading to the Summit of the Future in 2024, the UN Secretary-General has issued a new Policy Brief – the ninth in its series – outlining proposals for a New Agenda for Peace. Not missing in the Policy Brief are references to digital technologies and the challenges they pose for peace and security.
The document highlights the perils of weaponising new and emerging technologies, such as the proliferation of armed uncrewed aerial systems, the ease of access to powerful tools that facilitate the spread of misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech, and the misuse of digital technology by terrorist groups.
Among the 12 sets of recommendations detailed in the Policy Brief as steps towards achieving more effective multilateral action for peace and security, one is dedicated to ‘preventing the weaponisation of emerging domains and promote responsible innovation’. Here, the Secretary-General calls for:
- The development of governance frameworks, at the international and national levels, to minimise harms and address the cross-cutting risks posed by converging technologies.
- The establishment of an independent multilateral accountability mechanism for malicious use of cyberspace by states, to reduce incentives for such conduct. Such a mechanism, the Secretary-General argues, could enhance compliance with agreed norms and principles of responsible state behaviour.
- The conclusion, by 2026, of a legally binding instrument to prohibit lethal autonomous weapon systems that function without human control or oversight, and which cannot be used in compliance with international humanitarian law, and to regulate all other types of autonomous weapons systems.
- The development of frameworks to mitigate risks relating to AI-enabled systems in the peace and security domain. The Secretary-General specifically mentions the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as governance approaches that member states could seek inspiration from. He also invites member states to consider the creation of a new global body to mitigate the peace and security risks of AI while harnessing its benefits to accelerate sustainable development.
- The development of norms, rules and principles around the design, development, and use of military applications of AI through a multilateral process, with the engagement of stakeholders from industry, academia, civil society and other sectors.
- The development of a global framework regulating and strengthening oversight mechanisms for the use of data-driven technology, including AI, for counter-terrorism purposes.
- The development of measures to address the risks involved in biotechnology and human enhancement technologies applied in the military domain.