Multilateralism and Artificial Intelligence: What Role for the United Nations?

20 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2021

See all articles by Eugenio Garcia

Eugenio Garcia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil

Date Written: December 12, 2020


The objective of this paper is to discuss how multilateralism, and the United Nations (UN) in particular, can play a role in encouraging further engagement in artificial intelligence (AI) at the global level. In a fragmented landscape, despite numerous initiatives on AI principles by civil society, the industry, and some governments, the international governance of AI lacks coordination and has been plagued by competition. The UN has been active on several fronts, including UNESCO’s Ad Hoc Expert Group on AI ethics and the follow-up of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation. The UN is well positioned to take advantage of ongoing initiatives to offer a credible multilateral track, under the auspices of the Organisation, towards ethical, human-centred, and peaceful uses of AI systems. At this juncture, advisory bodies and voluntary platforms can help pave the way for the UN to bridge differences by promoting international cooperation, prevention, and foresight.

Keywords: United Nations, Artificial Intelligence, Multilateralism, Global Governance.

Suggested Citation

Garcia, Eugenio, Multilateralism and Artificial Intelligence: What Role for the United Nations? (December 12, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Eugenio Garcia (Contact Author)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil ( email )

Setor de Administração Federal Sul
Quadra 5 - Lotes 2/3
Brasilia, DF 70170-900

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