The United Nations General Assembly recently made a historic move by adopting its first-ever global resolution on artificial intelligence (AI), marking a significant step in international efforts to manage the burgeoning field of AI technology.

This nonbinding resolution, initiated by the United States and supported by an overwhelming consensus of 122 other nations, underscores a collective ambition to harness AI for the good of humanity while addressing the many risks associated with its development and deployment.

The resolution advocates for the protection of personal data, the vigilant monitoring of AI to identify and mitigate risks and the reinforcement of human rights. It is grounded in the recognition that AI, while offering immense potential for progress, also presents challenges that could undermine democratic processes, escalate fraud, contribute to job losses and violate privacy and human rights if left unchecked.

This global consensus on AI aims to ensure the technology’s development is aligned with the 2030 U.N. goals, emphasising safety, security and trustworthiness. It received backing from a diverse coalition of countries, including major powers like China and Russia, despite the complex negotiations and the “heated conversations” that occurred behind the scenes. The resolution’s unanimous adoption without a vote symbolises a rare moment of global unity on an issue of critical technological and ethical importance.

Key aspects of the resolution include a call for all stakeholders, including countries, tech communities, civil society and the media, to develop regulatory frameworks that ensure AI systems are safe and respect human rights. It highlights the importance of closing the digital divide, ensuring that all countries, particularly developing ones, have access to AI benefits such as disease detection, flood prediction and agricultural optimisation.

This landmark resolution reflects a growing recognition of the need for global governance in the digital age, where AI’s rapid evolution demands coordinated action to safeguard human rights and promote sustainable development. While not legally binding, the resolution serves as a barometer of global opinion and a blueprint for future regulatory and governance efforts, both at the national and international levels.

The initiative has been widely welcomed as a step forward in the collective effort to ensure that AI development is guided by ethical principles and respects international law, ensuring that all countries can benefit from the technology equitably and safely. It sets the stage for further discussions and actions aimed at achieving a consensus on the governance of AI systems, emphasising that innovation and regulation can coexist and reinforce each other.