Achieving impact through intergovernmental co-operation on artificial intelligence

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications continue to expand opportunities for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. UNESCO is working to harness these opportunities in its fields of competence across education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. UNESCO is leading reflections around pressing concerns related to the rapid development of AI, from a Human Rights and ethics perspective.

These range from AI’s role in the futures of education, the omnipresent challenges of disinformation and hate speech online, harnessing AI for the sustainable development goals and to empower the global south, and to promoting gender equality in the AI Sector and combatting algorithmic bias.

Agenda Setting and Awareness Raising 


UNESCO works towards fostering a human rights based and ethical development, use and governance of AI through its advocacy and awareness-raising work across the world. The organisation is highlighting the gender digital divide, the role of AI for the planet and helping develop regional consensus on AI governance through its regional forums.

Capacity Development and Policy Advice 

In terms of capacity development and Policy Advice, UNESCO works to:

  • Provide advice and assistance to Member States on national policy and development programmes. In the framework of the Inter-Agency Task Team on Science, Technology and Innovation, UNESCO led the development on a chapter on AI ethics in the UN Resource Guidebook on Artificial Intelligence Strategies. UNESCO’s AI decision makers’ essential platform is designed to support decision makers with practical advice on translating AI-related principles into practice.
  • Massive Open Online Course – AI and the Judiciary. UNESCO’s project to strengthen capacities of judicial operators concerning AI, covers a host of activities like annual knowledge exchange conferences, thematic workshops and online trainings to reach its vast network of judicial actors across 100 countries.
  • Build teachers’ competencies in teaching and using AI in education systems. In order to build competencies for teachers to integrate AI in classrooms, UNESCO has launched a portal for teaching AI to students.
  • Build AI literacy and digital skills: UNESCO hosts the Mobile Learning Week every year and has several initiatives to build AI literacy and digital skills in the nonformal, informal, and formal sector. With its innovative approach to reach out to different target audiences, UNESCO is using animated videos, digital comic strips and gamified learning to raise awareness in the broad public about the societal implications of AI.

Register for the Online Course on AI and the Rule of Law 

Structured around six modules, it unpacks the opportunities and risks of the adoption of AI technologies across justice systems, particularly human rights and AI ethics and governance issues. 

The course is developed by UNESCO and The Future Society, with the support of|, the National Judicial College, and IEEE SA. 

 Laboratory of Ideas 

UNESCO serves as a Laboratory of Ideas, notably by:
  • Ensuring the global dialogue on AI through its wide range of publications on education, sciences, culture and communication and information. UNESCO’s seminal report addressing the gender digital divide – I’d Blush if I Could: closing gender divides in digital skills through education inspired widespread action to address gender biases related to AI.
  • Undertaking foresight research on emerging trends in AI in the field of UNESCO’s mandate. UNESCO works with international research centres, civil society organisations, private sector and government actors to highlight cutting edge developments in research for evidence-based policy making

Standard Setter 

As a standard setter, UNESCO is working on:


UNESCO presents Global Recommendations on Ethics of AI 

 On 24 November 2021, the Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence was adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference at its 41st session.

After months of constructive dialogue and negotiation, representatives from UNESCO’s member states agreed on the text of an ambitious and wide-ranging instrument for the ethical development and deployment of Artificial Intelligence.

Catalyst for International Cooperation 

UNESCO works to ensure international cooperation in the field of Artificial Intelligence by:

  • Ensuring cooperation between international and regional agencies. UNESCO work on AI is reflected in the UNSG’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation (June 2020), in which UNESCO’s role as a ci-lead for AI (C3) is highlighted. UNESCO has supported the work of the African Union Working Group on AI and is a rotating chair of the UN Group on the Information Society (UNGIS). UNESCO is also an observer in the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) and participates in consultative processes of the OECD, Council of Europe, and European Commission.
  • Ensuring multistakeholder cooperation. Cooperation with stakeholders across governments, civil society, private sector and academia forms an essential part of UNESCO’s work on AI. In line with the Rights based, Open, Accessible, and Multistakeholder governance (R.O.A.M) driven approach to AI, UNESCO acts as a convenor of different stakeholders for holistic debate on the development, use and governance of AI.

Find out more about UNESCO’s work on AI at:

Live AI news related to UNESCO