top of page

AI & Civil Rights

Risks with AI-powered techniques

Are algorithms the new decision-makers? The use of algorithms raises considerable challenges for society as a whole.

The Council of Europe, in accordance with the mandate of the  Commissioner for  Human Rights to promote the awareness of and effective observance and full enjoyment of human rights in Council of Europe member states as well as to provide advice and information on the protection of human rights,  issues a 10-point Recommendation on AI and human rights.


"Unboxing Artificial Intelligence: 10 steps to protect Human Rights"

Council of Europe

The content to be read here is part of a report by the Council of Europe about Unboxing Artificial Intelligence 10 steps to protect Human Rights, along with references from Stanford University, ACLU & dotmagazine.


The full report about Artificial Intelligence can be read on >>

AI-driven technology is entering more aspects of every individual’s life.

The impact of  Artificial  Intelligence  (AI)  on human rights is one of the most crucial factors that will define the period in which we live.  AI-driven technology is entering more aspects of every individual’s life, from smart home appliances to social media applications, and it is increasingly being utilized by public authorities to evaluate people’s personality or skills, allocate resources,  and otherwise make decisions that can have real and serious consequences for the human rights of individuals.

AI involves opportunities as well as risks - human rights should be strengthened by AI, not undermined. This Recommendation on AI and human rights provides guidance on the way in which the negative impact of AI systems on human rights can be prevented or mitigated, focusing on 10 key areas of action.

  • Human rights impact assessment

  • Public consultations

  • Obligation of member states to facilitate the implementation of human rights standards in the private sector

  • Information and transparency

  • Independent oversight

  • Non-discrimination and equality

  • Data protection and privacy

  • Freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, and the right to work

  • Remedies

  • Promotion of “AI literacy”


The use of an AI system in any decision-making process that has a meaningful impact on a person’s human rights needs to be identifiable. The use of an AI  system must not only be made public in clear and accessible terms,  individuals must also be able to understand how decisions are reached and how those decisions have been verified.

If an  AI  system is used for interaction with individuals in the context of public services,  especially justice,  welfare,  and healthcare,  the user needs to be notified and the possibility of recourse to a professional upon request and without delay must be communicated. Those who have had a decision made about them by a  public authority that is solely or significantly informed by the output of an AI system should be notified and be promptly provided with the aforementioned information. 


Council of Europe

The Council of Europe is the continent's leading human rights organization to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. It includes 47 member states, 27 of which are members of the European Union. No country has ever joined the EU without first belonging to the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe is an official United Nations Observer.

The Council of Europe cannot make binding laws, but it does have the power to enforce select international agreements reached by European states on various topics. The best-known body of the Council of Europe is the European Court of Human Rights, which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights.

Public authorities and private parties should be required to provide all the information necessary for effective oversight of  AI  systems upon request and regularly report to the oversight bodies.  They should implement oversight bodies’  recommendations regarding the human rights impacts of  AI  systems.  Oversight processes must also be transparent and subject to appropriate public scrutiny and the decisions of the oversight bodies must be subject to an appeal or independent review.

In all circumstances, discrimination risks must be prevented and mitigated with special attention for groups that have an increased risk of their rights being disproportionately impacted by  AI.  This includes women,  children,  older people, economically disadvantaged persons, members of the LGBTI community, persons with disabilities, and “racial”, ethnic or religious groups. Member states must refrain from using AI systems that discriminate or lead to discriminatory outcomes and, within their jurisdiction, protect individuals from the consequences of the use of such AI systems by third parties.


AI systems must always remain under human control, even in circumstances where machine learning or similar techniques allow for the  AI  system to make decisions independently of specific human intervention.  Member states must establish clear lines of responsibility for human rights violations that may arise at various phases of an AI system lifecycle. Responsibility and accountability for human rights violations that occur in the development, deployment, or  use  of  AI  Systems  must  always  lie  with  a  natural  or  legal  person,  even  in  cases  where  the  measure  violating  human  rights  was  not  directly ordered by a responsible human commander or operator.


Stanford University

Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private research university located in Stanford, California. Stanford was founded in 1885 by U.S. senator and former governor of California Leland Stanford and Jane Stanford.


The university is organized around seven schools. Three schools consisting of 40 academic departments at the undergraduate level as well as four professional schools that focus on graduate programs in law, medicine, education, and business. All schools are on the same campus. 


Students compete in 36 varsity sports. Stanford students and alumni have won 270 Olympic medals including 139 gold medals.

The knowledge and understanding of AI should be promoted in government institutions, independent oversight bodies, national human rights structures, the judiciary and law enforcement, and with the general public. Member states should consider establishing a  consultative body within the government to advise on all AI-related matters

Member states should invest in the level of literacy on AI with the general public through robust awareness-raising, training, and education efforts, including (in particular) in schools. This should not be limited to education on the workings of AI, but also its potential impactpositive and negative – on human rights. Particular efforts should be made to reach out to marginalized groups, and those that are disadvantaged as regards IT literacy in general.


The content and images provided in this article for informational purposes are featured and copyright protected by multiple notable members of the community: | | |

Diplomats Society is looking forward to receive questions, opinions and best practice examples from all interested stakeholders. For everyone interested in participating and contributing content that will be provided to ambassadors, decision-makers, politicians, stakeholders and potential investors all over Europe please don't hesitate to contact us:

Sign up for our Newsletter

Many Thanks!

bottom of page