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Judicial operators in 100 countries express interest in learning about AI and the rule of law with UNESCO


Judicial systems worldwide are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyze large amounts of legal data to help lawyers identify precedents in case law, enable administrations in streamlining judicial processes, and support judges with predictions on issues including sentence duration and recidivism scores. The emergence of legal analytics and predictive justice has implications for human rights as AI systems’ opaqueness can go against the principles of open justice, due process and the rule of law.

As part of its work supporting digital innovation and transformation, UNESCO is developing online training for judicial operators on AI and the Rule of Law in collaboration with a vast network of partners. In the form of a Massive Open Online Course, this training will stimulate a participative dialogue with judicial operators on AI-related innovations in the judicial system, and court rulings concerning artificial intelligence. It will facilitate knowledge exchange and experience sharing among judicial operators on artificial intelligence, and existing norms and standards in the field. The course will underline the implications of AI for human rights, highlighting existing case studies and best practices that translate ethical principles into practice in terms of the use of AI in justice systems and in cases involving AI impacting human rights.

In November 2020, to hear directly from beneficiaries concerned, UNESCO launched a survey of judicial operators worldwide to understand the relevant issues for capacity building and knowledge exchange concerning AI and the Rule of Law.

The survey received 1265 responses in seven languages from judicial operators in 100 countries around the world.

The respondents represent diverse actors across different legal systems. 35 per cent of the respondents are judges, 20 per cent are lawyers, and 27 per cent are civil servants working in the judiciary, prosecution services or law ministries.

The respondents expressed interest in learning about two broad areas of the use of AI in judicial systems as an administrative and assistive tool and the legal implications of AI in society in general. 

Dispensing justice in a timely manner is a challenge faced by judiciaries worldwide. AI systems have the potential to increase the efficiency of administrative processes to help free up human resources in judicial systems for more analytical tasks and help reduce delays. Over 85 per cent of the respondents expressed interest in learning about the working of AI systems, the use of AI tools in legal systems including in the administration of justice, civil and criminal litigation and investigations and law enforcement. 

About 90 per cent of the respondents underscored the need for legal training concerning the implications of AI systems for bias, discrimination, freedom of expression, privacy, and understanding the ethical challenges presented by the use of AI in different social contexts. 

UNESCO will use the survey findings to inform the development of the global training and other activities like the facilitation of knowledge sharing and best practices among judicial operators worldwide, especially in the context of North-South and South-South cooperation. 

For more information on the AI and the Rule of Law Project:

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