Council of Europe's international AI treaty is the first of its kind

The Council of Europe adopts the first international AI treaty to address AI system risks while promoting responsible innovation.

: The Council of Europe has developed a new treaty, establishing a legal framework to regulate the lifecycle of AI systems across member and non-member states, including the US and Japan. This treaty focuses on maintaining human rights, democracy, and the rule of law by setting specific measures against misuses of AI, such as those in elections with deepfakes. It also mandates the creation of independent oversight mechanisms to ensure compliance, although national security and defense are exempt.

The Council of Europe, an organization founded to uphold human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Europe, has introduced a pioneering international treaty aimed at regulating artificial intelligence (AI). This agreement, prepared by the CoE's Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI), marks the first of its kind and involves contributions from 46 member states, the European Union, and 11 non-member states including prominent nations such as the United States and Japan. The treaty addresses the entire lifecycle of AI systems and aims to balance the prevention of risks with the promotion of responsible technological innovation.

The treaty includes specific regulations tailored to different risks and contexts, with stringent rules on transparency and oversight. One significant area of focus is the proper identification and handling of AI-generated content, such as deepfakes and AI-produced art, which pose new challenges in misinformation and intellectual property. The treaty mandates member states to adopt measures protecting democratic processes and institutions from AI misuse, directly addressing concerns raised by the potential impact of AI technologies on major electoral events scheduled for 2024, including the EU Parliament and US presidential elections.

An essential component of the treaty is the requirement for each signatory country to establish an independent oversight mechanism to monitor compliance with the treaty’s provisions. This mechanism is crucial to ensuring that the standards set forth in the treaty are adhered to, although exemptions are made for national security and defense issues. The full convention, expected to be signed at an upcoming conference of EU Ministers of Justice in Vilnius, represents a significant global step towards structured regulation of AI technologies in a way that upholds fundamental democratic values and human rights.