US-led UN resolution calls for safe AI systems to address global challenges

A US-led UN resolution promotes safe AI systems to address global challenges, ensuring equitable access and governance, emphasising the technology’s potential for a positive impact on economies, societies, and the world. The resolution aims to bridge digital divides, emphasising human-centric, reliable, and responsible systems for sustainable development.

Photo of the UN HQ in New York with flags of member states.

On 15 March 2024, the United States (US) and 54 co-sponsors issued a joint statement on the proposed United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on seizing the opportunities of safe, secure, and trustworthy AI systems for sustainable development. The US is leading the first UNGA resolution on AI, which aims to ensure the new technology is ‘safe, secure, and trustworthy’ and that all nations, especially those in the developing world, have equitable access.

The proposed general assembly resolution intends to mend the digital gap between nations and ensure that all have their say at the AI negotiations’ table. The draft acknowledges the increasing pace of AI development and use, stressing ‘the urgency of achieving global consensus on safe, secure, and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems.’ It also acknowledges that ‘the governance of artificial intelligence systems is an evolving area’ that requires additional talks on potential governance models.

Why does it matter?

The text highlights the potential of AI to shape economies, societies, and the world for the better and calls for promoting safe, secure, and trustworthy AI systems to address global challenges related to poverty elimination, global health, food security, climate, energy, and education.

The joint call also aims to bridge the AI and other digital divides between and within countries through capacity development, increasing digital literacy, and other actions, with a vision of AI systems being ‘human-centric, reliable, explainable, ethical, inclusive, privacy-preserving, and responsible,’ with an emphasis on sustainable development. The resolution at the General Assembly is aligned with other initiatives at the UN level.

Launched in October 2023, the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Advisory Body on AI was in Geneva last week for open meetings with various stakeholders and international organisations after delivering its first interim report in December.