Council of Europe must not water down their human rights standards in convention on AI

In a joint statement, civil society calls for a broad scope and definition of AI systems and no blanket exemptions for AI systems for national defence/national security.

By European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (guest author) · September 13, 2023

The Council of Europe Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI) was tasked by the CoE Committee of Ministers to negotiate a Framework Convention on AI, rule of law, human rights and democracy. ECNL is the expert representative of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe (CINGO) in CAI.

Ahead of start of negotiations in CAI in January 2023, CINGO and a group of other civil society observers already urged CAI to include broad scope and definition of AI systems, and ensure meaningful participation of civil society organisations, in particular those representing marginalised groups, in the negotiating process.

What are the next steps?

The CAI negotiations are now intensifying: a Consolidated Working Draft of the Convention is expected to be imminently published on the CAI’s website. That’s why on July 4, 2023, the undersigned CSOs participating in the CAI sent a letter to the CAI Chair and Secretariat.

In the letter, civil society underscore the urgency of this Convention as the challenges arising from the design, development and deployment of AI systems increase. We deeply regret that the negotiating States have chosen to exclude both civil society observers and Council of Europe member participants from the drafting group of the Convention and call on the drafting group to ensure, among other priorities:

  1. A transversal, binding legal instrument with a broad definition of AI and without blanket exemptions (e.g., excluding AI systems for national defence and/or national security).
  2. Mandatory and publicly accessible impact assessments on human rights, democracy and rule of law for AI systems deployed by public entities or otherwise presenting a high level of risk.
  3. Clear guidelines and criteria for prohibitions of unacceptable AI systems.
  4. Effective redress mechanisms, independent oversight and enforcement mechanisms for the Convention implementation.
    Read the full letter

The statement was signed by:

This article was first publishere here by European Center for Not-for-Profit Law.

Contribution by: EDRi member, European Center for Not-for-Profit Law