(Sept. 5, 2023) - In advance of a drafting session for the Committee on AI of the Council of Europe, civil society organizations have urged member states to avoid references to "national security" that could weaken the first global treaty on AI. The mission of the Council of Europe is to promote democratic institutions, the rule of law, and fundamental rights. But civil society groups warn that proposed exemptions in the draft AI Treaty for national security could aid authoritarian governments. They have recommended either (1) that national security not be mentioned at all, or (2) be referred to only as a legitimate ground for restrictions of the rights outlined in the AI Treaty that must be clearly established by law and be necessary and proportionate in a democratic society.
Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI), Consolidated Working Draft of the Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law (7 July 2023) [published by the Chair and the Secretariat of the CAI]
Following Third Plenary Session, Committee on AI releases List of Decisions and Zero Draft.
The Committee noted that the Zero Draft is "a document prepared by the Chair and the Secretariat and does not reflect the final outcome of negotiations in the Committee."
European Council - New EU priorities for a reinforced strategic partnership with the Council of Europe (CoE) on human rights, democracy and the rule of law (Jan. 30, 2023)
"Today, the Council of the European Union, the institution gathering the ministers of EU Member States, adopted the new priorities that will guide the cooperation between the EU and the CoE in the next two years. . . . Acceding to the European Convention on Human Rights will remain the EU core policy objective at the CoE. . . . Our cooperation agenda for the next two years also recognises the emergence of new topics in relation with human rights, such as advanced digital technologies, artificial intelligence, climate change and environmental protection. . . . the EU and the CoE stand united and determined to further build on each other’s strengths and competences to uphold and promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe and beyond." [MORE]
CAIDP Statement Regarding the Decision to Exclude Civil Society Organizations from the Drafting Group of the Council of Europe Committee on AI (Jan. 17, 2023)
"We are concerned about the recent decision to exclude civil society organizations, including CAIDP, from the drafting group for the COE AI Treaty. We have spent more than two years contributing actively and constructively to the work of the Council of Europe on Artificial Intelligence. We remain committed to the mandate of the Council of Europe Committee on AI. We will continue to express our views on the draft text. And we look forward to the adoption of a global treaty for AI that protects fundamental rights, democratic values, and the rule of law.”
- Center for AI and Digital Policy
- Global Partners Digital
- Fair Trials
In a letter addressed to Secretariat of the Committee on AI of the Council of Europe, civil society organizations have asked to observe the upcoming sessions of the Drafting Committee for the Council of Europe Convention on AI. At the most recent plenary session in Strasbourg, civil society organizations were denied the opportunity to actively participate in the drafting committee. Excerpts from the civil society letter:
We have created this informational page to provide access to the documents concerning the development of Council of Europe Treaty on AI, the relevant work of CAIDP and others, and to chart the important milestones as the proposal moves forward.
In December 2021, the Council of Europe’s Ad Hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAHAI) published “Possible elements of a legal framework on artificial intelligence based on the Council of Europe’s standards on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.” The Possible Elements Report established the need for an international, legally binding treaty focused on AI. The Report laid the groundwork for the successive Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI). The CAI will build on the CAHAI’s recommendations and elaborate an “appropriate legal instrument”, likely to lead to a transversal legally binding document by 2023.
The Council is a leader in the realm of international legal instruments and human rights. All Council of Europe member states have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty designed to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law. And Article 8 of that Convention has done much to shape modern privacy law. There are 47 member states, including the 27 members of the European Union. COE Conventions are also open for ratification by non-member state. The original COE Convention on Privacy (Convention 108) was ratified by 56 countries.
In 2020, the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution on the Need for Democratic Governance of Artificial Intelligence. The Assembly called for “strong and swift action” by the Council of Europe. The parliamentarians warned that “soft-law instruments and self-regulation have proven so far not sufficient in addressing these challenges and in protecting human rights, democracy and rule of law.”
“AI can bring about economic and social progress, and improve government transparency and democratic participation, but it can also be used to disrupt democracy through interference in electoral processes, or manipulating public opinion,” the parliamentarians stressed, adopting unanimously a resolution based on the report of Deborah Bergamini (Italy, EPP/CD). She warned that filtering information and mass surveillance, enabled by AI, “risk undermining civil rights and political freedoms and the emergence of digital authoritarianism.”
The Council of Europe resolution also follows extensive work by the COE Ad Hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAHAI). In September 2020 the COE Committee of Ministers approved the CAHAI progress report, which concluded that the “Council of Europe has a crucial role to play today to ensure that AI applications are in line with human rights protections.” The Ministers asked the CAHAI to draft a feasibility study on a legal instrument that could “regulate the design, development and application of AI that have a significant impact on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.” The COE Ministers also proposed that the CAHAI should examine “human rights impact assessments” and “certification of algorithms and AI systems.”
The Third Plenary Meeting of the Committee on Artificial Intelligence took place in Strasbourg France, 11 - 13 January 2023
The Fourth Plenary Meeting of the Committee on Artificial Intelligence took place 1-3 February, 2023
The Fifth Plenary Meeting of the Committee on Artificial Intelligence will take place 19-21 April, 2023
Provisional Calendar of Meetings (March 2022)
The Second Plenary Meeting of the Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI) took place in Strasbourg, France and online on 21-23 September 2022.
During the meeting, the Committee examined a first draft of a convention on artificial intelligence, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The focus was on developing common principles ensuring the continued seamless application and respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law in a context where AI systems assist or replace human decision-making.
1438th meeting, Council of Ministers Deputies (30 June 2022)
The Deputies instructed the Committee on Artificial Intelligence to proceed speedily with the elaboration of a legally binding instrument of a transversal nature (“convention”/“framework convention”) on artificial intelligence based on the Council of Europe’s standards on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, in line with its terms of reference, focused on general common principles, conducive to innovation, and open to participation by non-member States, while taking into account other relevant existing international legal frameworks or those under development.
10.4 Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI)
Decision concerning the work of the CAI at the 132nd Session of the Committee of Ministers – Follow-up
132nd Session of the Committee of Ministers (20 May 2022)
The Council is now faced with one of the most crucial issues in today's society, namely the risks posed to human rights, democracy and the rule of law by the development and use of the artificial intelligence (AI). AI is an opportunity and a challenge for our societies. Building on the work carried out by the Ad Hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAHAI), we will hopefully decide in May the tangible actions that the Council of Europe will undertake to help build a future in which the enormous potential of artificial intelligence will be at the service of human needs. [Document]
We specifically support the recommendations set out in the CAHAI draft, including the strong emphasis on transparency, accountability, fairness, and redress, as well as further recommendations described below. We also want to highlight the importance of creating a legally binding transversal instrument within the framework of the Council of Europe to enable AIbased systems to promote a better society where technology promotes broad social inclusion based on fundamental rights, democratic institutions, and the rule of law.
Before an AI system is introduced to a domain as a "solution," we should understand the domain from all perspectives. AI provides the ability to take a snapshot of our institutions and analyze it in ways that would not have been possible before. Therefore, the first use cases should be geared toward analysts and understanding the gaps, inequalities and possible harms that these generate.
Facial recognition used by law enforcement often requires mass surveillance of populations that is by its very definition against the rights of expression, assembly and association, protection of personal data and privacy.
There are no existing instruments that effectively regulate the design, development, and use of AI systems.
This week the Ad Hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence (the “CAHAI”) finalized recommendations for a legal framework for AI. The Recommendation follows two years of work by the Committee, which was established by the Council of Europe in 2019. The proposal was adopted unanimously and will be sent next to the Council of Ministers for consideration.
The CAHAI explained that the legal framework should “focus on preventing and mitigating risks” from the use of AI systems and should establish “basic principles and norms governing the development, design and application of AI systems.”
This week the CAHAI published Toward Regulation of AI Systems and convened a panel to discuss Democratic Governance of AI. The CAHAI report explored global perspectives on the development of AI legal frameworks, and highlighted recent developments in Israel, Mexico, and Japan. The report emphasized that the COE has “a crucial role to play to ensure that Artificial Intelligence (AI) complies with the Organisation’s standards on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.”
Parliamentarians with both the Council of Europe and the European Union have now made clear the need to adopt legislation for the democratic governance of Artificial Intelligence.
The CAHAI fulfilled its mandate (2019-2021) and has been succeeded by the
Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI)
The Committee examined the feasibility and potential elements on the basis of broad multi-stakeholder consultations, of a legal framework for the development, design and application of artificial intelligence, based on Council of Europe’s standards on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Under the authority of the Committee of Ministers, the CAHAI:
When fulfilling this task, the Ad hoc Committee was instructed to:
CAHAI, Possible elements of a legal framework on artificial intelligence, based on the Council of Europe’s standards on human rights, democracy and the rule of law (16 February 2022) (The Final Report of the CAHAI)