The UN General Assembly, on March 21, 2024, unanimously adopted a first-ever resolution on artificial intelligence (AI) to promote safe, secure, and trustworthy AI systems for sustainable development. The UN’s action reflects a growing global consensus that regulation of AI is essential both to minimize its risks and yet ensure that all nations, especially developing countries, have access to the benefits of mature, trustworthy AI systems.

The U.S.-led resolution was co-sponsored by 123 other member states and adopted by consensus of all 193 UN member states. Introducing the draft resolution to the General Assembly, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, highlighted the opportunity and the responsibility of the international community “to govern this technology rather than let it govern us” and to create and deploy AI “through the lens of humanity and dignity, safety and security, human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

The themes of the resolution include development and use of AI in a human-centric and privacy preserving manner, and international collaboration to promote inclusive and equitable access to AI. The UN has recognized AI systems’ potential to address the world’s challenges and to help reach the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and achieve sustainable economic, social, and environmental development. The UN has called on the member states and stakeholders (such as the private sector, international and regional organizations, the media, academia and research institutions, and technical communities) to leverage the opportunities and address the challenges of AI by collaborating to:

  • Develop regulatory and governance frameworks for the safe, secure and trustworthy use of AI;
  • Bridge AI and other digital divides between countries;
  • Create strategies to grant developing countries inclusive and equitable access to trustworthy AI systems;
  • Reject AI systems that are not in compliance with international human rights law or that pose undue human rights risks;
  • Foster an innovative, enabling environment for AI systems to address the world’s greatest challenges, including achieving sustainable development of developing countries and worldwide; and
  • Share best practices on data governance to advance trusted cross-border data flows for trustworthy AI systems.

The resolution was adopted just as the European Parliament approved the Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act) on March 13, 2024. The AI Act is the world's first comprehensive legal AI framework and embraces and embodies many of the principles set out in the UN resolution. For more details on the EU's AI Act, see this article.

In the United States, following the October 30, 2023 Executive Order on the safe, secure, and trustworthy development and use of AI, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced the creation of the U.S. AI Safety Institute Consortium (AISIC) on February 8, 2024. The AISIC is housed under the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and includes more than 200 leading AI stakeholders. For more details on the Executive Order, see this article.