Remarks by Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, at the UN Security Council Stakeout Following the Adoption of a UNGA Resolution on Artificial Intelligence

Must read

March 21, 2024

Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you so much for being here. As President Biden was quoted as saying: this is a “big bleeping deal.”

Today, all 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly have spoken in one voice, and together, chosen to govern artificial intelligence rather than let it govern us.

The groundbreaking resolution adopted today cements global consensus for safe, secure, trustworthy AI systems. Systems that both advance sustainable development, and respect fundamental freedoms.

And while I could talk ad nauseum about the “what” of this text, I want to start by acknowledging the “who” and the “how” of it. Because this inclusive, comprehensive resolution is inextricably linked with an inclusive, comprehensive approach to adopting it.

Over the last few months, we have worked with over 120 countries representing every part of the world and every level of development.

We have brought on board 123 co-sponsors, including the Bahamas, the Netherlands, Morocco, Singapore, the UK, Japan, who are standing up here with me today.

They are a few of the earliest co-sponsors of this resolution, who have worked hand-in-hand with us since the very beginning.

We also engaged with stakeholders from the private sector, the technical community, civil society, and academia.

And we have built on a diverse group of international initiatives, on existing UN entities around AI, and on efforts in our own individual countries.

And I’d be remiss not to mention President Biden and Vice President Harris’s real leadership on this issue, [both] here and abroad.

All of this work culminated in what we just saw today – a first-of-its-kind resolution, adopted not only by majority, but by consensus.

Because ultimately, the risks and benefits of AI have the potential to impact all of us, and so, approaching it requires all of us.

The resolution we just adopted reflected our shared responsibility, and collective fate. It leaves no one behind. It lays the groundwork for AI systems that leave no one behind, either.

Among other things, this resolution reaffirms that we must focus on capacity building, and close digital divides within and between countries so that everyone can benefit from AI.

It emphasizes that no one should use AI to undermine peace or repress human rights.

It calls on those creating this technology to be responsible when it comes to developing and launching new capabilities, and to root out bias and discrimination in AI systems.

It underscores that innovation and regulation are not mutually exclusive but rather, mutually reinforcing.

It notes the importance of education, of transparency, of continued knowledge sharing on mutually agreed terms, which the U.S. understands to mean on a voluntary basis.

And it sets the stage for more close collaboration and conversation to come, both within the UN and beyond it.

Over the past few months, I’ve occasionally been asked the question: why the UN?

Why should this body, with so many existential challenges on its plate, take on AI?

And the answer is simple: because AI is existential.

And not only in its threats, of which there are many, but in its opportunities – of which I believe there are many more.

Already, AI is being used to detect disease and predict natural disasters. It is helping farmers grow more food and educators reach more students.

And as Secretary Blinken discussed just last week, it is helping activists and members of civil society protect our democracies.

This resolution was a massive step towards expanding these benefits, and creating even more of them. Towards building and deploying AI systems that save lives, end poverty, protect our planet, and create a safer, more equitable world.

Tomorrow, the hard work continues, as we put our shared principles not only to paper, but into practice.

But for today, I say we celebrate an extraordinary achievement – and one that belongs to each and every one of us.

Let me now turn the podium over to the Ambassador of Japan.



  1. NATE EVANS: We have time for a couple of on-topic questions. [Laughter.] Maggie?


QUESTION: Thank you, Ambassadors. I hope the stakeout is not replaced by ChatGPT anytime soon. [Laughter.] Ambassador, on Gaza, we all want to know when the resolution is going to be brought to a vote – I started with ChatGPT! [Laughter.] We all want to know when the vote is going to come, so if you could just fill us in and bring us up to date. Thanks.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, as you know, although this question is not on topic, but as you know, we have been working diligently over the course of the past few days – even the past few hours – to move forward our resolution. We have the resolution in blue, we just made some additional changes in the resolution that were requested, and we look forward to bringing the resolution to a vote as quickly as possible.

  1. EVANS: Any actually on topic questions?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: If its off topic, I will let one of the other ambassadors answer it.

QUESTION: Yes, Stefano Vaccara from La Voce di New York. This is great, but is it a binding resolution? Are you going to present this resolution to the Security Council on the matter?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, we thought the best place for this resolution was in the General Assembly, that brings all 193 countries to the table to agree to the tenants of this resolution. So, we don’t have any intention of bringing this to the Security Council. We don’t even think there is a need to bring it to the Security Council, because this resolution lays down the foundation – the platform – for how we will address AI moving forward. And having all 193 countries agree to that, I think, sends a very strong message.

  1. EVANS: Time for one more. Celhia, did you want?

QUESTION: I am not going to say what I did the last time. I just want to know, how artificial intelligence can change the lives of remote villages in Africa, when they don’t have water or electricity?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That is the most important question to ask today, because AI will be able to bring to people in remote villages access to technology, but access to the basic needs that they didn’t have access to before. And the whole idea of this is to bridge that gap, so that we can figure out how we deliver water to women in villages; we can figure out how we help women farmers address their need for better production methods and better methods of getting their food to market. So, I think this will address those needs – in fact, I know it will address those needs. This is about the Sustainable Development Goals; all of those goals reach to the basic needs of everyday people.

  1. EVANS: Thank you, everyone.


More articles

Latest article