Navigating AI’s Legal Landscape: The AI Convention 2024

In today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape, the regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) presents a formidable challenge across the globe. With each country adopting its unique approach to AI governance, the call for a unified international treaty grows louder. Amidst this backdrop, the Council of Europe (COE) has taken a monumental step by adopting the Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law, known as the ‘AI Convention’, on May 17, 2024. This groundbreaking convention aims to harmonize the development and deployment of AI technologies with the core values of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. By establishing a comprehensive legal framework, the AI Convention seeks to guide the responsible use of AI, ensuring that technological advancements contribute positively to society while safeguarding fundamental freedoms. 

What is the Council of Europe (COE)?

The Council of Europe (COE), established in 1949 and headquartered in Strasbourg, France, plays a fundamental role in the promotion of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law among its 47 member states. The COE aims to foster unity and cooperation across Europe and beyond, highlighting its foundational mission in the evolving landscape of international relations.

Member States

Encompassing 47 member states, the COE includes a broad swath of European countries, demonstrating the extent of its influence and the breadth of its mission to uphold core values across the continent. The COE’s capacity to facilitate extensive collaboration and standard-setting in critical areas such as human rights and legal governance.

Mission of COE

The mission of the COE centers on safeguarding democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. This mission statement reflects the organization’s commitment to these foundational principles, guiding its initiatives and conventions, including the recent landmark AI Convention. It seeks to navigate the complex interplay between AI technologies and fundamental human values.

What is Europe’s AI Convention?

Significance of the Convention

The AI Convention represents a crucial step in AI governance, addressing the intricate relationship between AI technologies and the core values of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. It stands as a testament to the COE’s proactive approach to setting a precedent for responsible AI use and regulation on a global scale.

Comprehensive Agreement

Distinguishing itself from nonbinding ethical guidelines, the AI Convention serves as a comprehensive framework for AI governance, filling a critical gap with its binding commitments. This comprehensive nature underscores the convention’s role in establishing a solid foundation for the regulation of AI technologies in alignment with democratic values and human rights.

Linkage to Fundamental Values

By linking AI regulation to fundamental human values, the AI Convention emphasizes the necessity of embedding human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in the development and deployment of AI technologies. This alignment is crucial for ensuring that AI advances contribute positively to society, reinforcing the importance of the convention’s adoption by COE member states.

What is the Framework Convention on AI?

A framework convention is a legally binding agreement that outlines broad objectives and commitments, providing a structured approach to achieving specific targets through subsequent protocols. This nature of the AI Convention as a framework convention highlights its role in establishing foundational principles for AI governance while allowing for tailored implementations.

Implementation Mechanism

The AI Convention employs a dynamic implementation mechanism, allowing for the development of specific protocols to address emerging challenges and objectives within AI governance. This approach, exemplified by the Convention on Biological Diversity, enables adaptability and specificity in addressing the multifaceted issues associated with AI technologies.

Flexibility and Core Principles

Offering flexibility to its parties, the AI Convention allows member states to adapt their approaches to AI regulation according to their unique capacities and priorities, while ensuring that core principles are embedded in these efforts. This balance between flexibility and adherence to fundamental values is critical for the effective and equitable governance of AI technologies.

What is the Scope of the AI Convention?

Article 1: Aims

This Article 1 of the AI Convention clearly outlines its aims to align AI systems’ lifecycle with human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, emphasizing the necessity of integrating these fundamental principles throughout the development, deployment, and use of AI technologies.

Article 3: Scope and Application

The AI Convention’s Article 3 details the convention’s broad scope, applying to a wide range of AI-related activities and mandating adherence by both public authorities and private actors. This inclusive approach ensures comprehensive coverage and responsibility across the spectrum of AI technologies and their impacts.

How Does the AI Convention Address National Security Concerns?

Exemptions for National Security

Recognizing the unique considerations of national security, the AI Convention provides specific exemptions for military and defense-related AI applications, acknowledging the need for flexibility in these sensitive areas while maintaining the overarching objectives of the convention.

Balance Between Flexibility and Regulation

Through Article 3(b), the AI Convention strikes a thoughtful balance, allowing for regulatory flexibility in the context of national security while ensuring that such considerations do not undermine the protection of human rights and democratic principles.

General Obligations and Article 22

The general obligations under Articles 4 and 5, together with the provisions of Article 22, reinforce the commitment of parties to address challenges such as disinformation and deep fakes within the framework of national security. It demonstrates the convention’s comprehensive approach to safeguarding fundamental values in the face of evolving AI technologies.


The recent adoption of the Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law by the Council of Europe (COE) marks a pivotal moment in the global discourse on AI governance. This convention draws attention to the critical intersections between AI technologies and fundamental societal values, such as human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. The inclusion of a broad range of activities within the AI lifecycle under its purview emphasizes the comprehensive approach taken to ensure these technologies serve the public good without compromising ethical standards.

Particularly noteworthy are the provisions made for national security, which seek to balance the need for innovation and protection with the imperative to safeguard democratic values and human rights. These observations underscore the complex challenges of regulating a technology as pervasive and transformative as AI, highlighting the importance of international cooperation and flexible yet principled frameworks.

For judiciary aspirants, this development provides a rich ground for reflection on the role of legal frameworks in shaping the future of technology. It prompts a consideration of how laws can evolve to address the rapid pace of innovation while ensuring that technological advancements do not outstrip our ethical and democratic principles.

As future leaders, understanding the intricacies of such conventions and the broader implications for governance, national security, and human rights is crucial. This case illustrates the need for a multidisciplinary approach to legal education and practice, one that integrates technological fluency with a firm grounding in ethics and public policy. It also serves as a call to action for aspiring jurists to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on AI regulation, ensuring that technology serves humanity’s best interests, and fostering a society that values and protects the rights and dignity of all individuals.

Did you read about Frustration of Contract?


The adoption of the Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law by the Council of Europe marks a watershed moment in the discourse surrounding AI regulation. This convention not only exemplifies a pioneering effort to tether the rapid advancements in AI to the mast of human rights and democratic values but also serves as a beacon for future global governance initiatives. For judiciary aspirants, the implications of such a convention are profound. It underscores the evolving nature of legal frameworks in response to technological advancements and the necessity for legal professionals to be adept at navigating the interface between technology and law. The convention’s emphasis on human rights, democracy, and the rule of law as foundational pillars in AI governance provides a template for evaluating and crafting legal responses to the challenges posed by AI, both within and beyond Europe.

As we stand on the cusp of a new era in AI regulation, this convention invites aspiring judges and legal practitioners to ponder the role of law in shaping the trajectory of technological innovation toward a future where human dignity and democratic values are preserved. It is a clarion call to integrate ethical considerations with legal expertise, ensuring that the marvels of AI serve to enhance, rather than undermine, the fabric of society.