67th Session of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters Discusses the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on International Security

February 6th, 2017

In Geneva, from 25 to 27 January 2017, the members of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters discussed three topics given to them by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, where one of the key issues before them was Artificial Intelligence (AI) on international security.

The Board welcomed the addition of this new topic, a “frontier” technology issue that is confronting the international community and which may have a revolutionary effect on international security. AI can be of enormous benefit for international security, as well as a threat. The Board expressed the view that regardless of the particularities of the use of AI in warfare, International Humanitarian Law (IHL) should prevail at all times. International Human Rights Law (IHRL) should also be taken into account.

Other issues under discussion were the threat of cyberattacks by terrorists on nuclear facilities and the potential role of cybermeans in threatening biosecurity, and the review of the implementation of the 34 recommendations contained in the 2002 United Nations study on disarmament and non-proliferation education (A/57/124).

The Meeting was chaired by Dr. Trevor Findlay, Senior Research Fellow, School of Social and Political Sciences, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne in Australia. He has been a member of the Board since 2013 and will chair the meetings of the Board in 2017. The full members of the Board can be found here.

The Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters was established in 1978 pursuant to paragraph 124 of the Final Document of the Tenth Special Session of the General Assembly, and received its current mandate pursuant to General Assembly decision 54/418 of 1 December 1999.

The Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters has the following functions:

  • To advise the Secretary-General on matters within the area of arms limitation and disarmament, including on studies and research under the auspices of the United Nations or institutions within the United Nations system
  • To serve as the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
  • To advise the Secretary-General on the implementation of the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme

The 68th session of the Advisory Board, to be held from 28 to 30 June 2017 in New York, will continue to discuss the three topics and make recommendations for the Secretary-General to be included in his report to the General Assembly for its consideration in late 2017.


Text by Soo Hyun Kim