22nd Republic of Korea – United Nations Joint Conference on Disarmament and Non-proliferation Issues

GENEVA, 5 December. The twenty-second iteration of the Republic of Korea- United Nations Joint Conference on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Issues took place at the United Nations Office in Geneva, on 4-5 December 2023. The theme of this year’s conference is “Governance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Military Domain” with a special focus on the implications, challenges and potential risks surrounding the use of AI in military contexts.

The two-day Conference drew an array of distinguished participants, including Government officials, United Nations speakers and experts, including His Excellency Mr. Dong-yeol Rhee, Ambassador for International Security Affairs and Special Adviser to the Minister of the Republic of Korea, and Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs of the United Nations. Mr. Rhee and Ms. Nakamitsu emphasized the importance of establishing international norms and guidelines to safeguard responsible design, development and use of military artificial intelligence tools and applications, while also exploring avenues for international cooperation and regulation.

Key discussions at the Conference highlighted a comprehensive understanding of the risks and benefits associated with military AI, including the convergences of AI technology with weapon systems, disarmament and arms control issues. A growing range of complexities around developments in artificial intelligence, with the possibility of increased use of AI in autonomous weapons and the disruptive prospects to international peace and security were few of the major concerns discussed in the meeting. The Conference aimed to foster a deeper collaborative dialogue on the understanding of AI’s integration into military decision-making and weapon systems, drawing lessons from civilian AI approaches and incorporating diverse regional perspectives.

The Conference aligned with the UN’s commitment to maintaining international peace and security, echoing the Secretary-General’s call on artificial intelligence as outlined in his New Agenda for Peace policy brief, urging States to “urgently develop national strategies on responsible design, development and use of artificial intelligence, consistent with Member States’ obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law”.

The Conference also served as a preparatory platform for the upcoming second Summit on Responsible AI in the Military Domain in Seoul in 2024 (REAIM Summit). Moreover, the Conference welcomed the participation of youth representatives from the Republic of Korea, who contributed their unique perspectives and fresh innovative ideas. Their participation highlighted the shared commitment of the UN and the Republic of Korea to actively involve younger generations in these key international discussions.

As participants navigated the intricacies of military AI, the Conference served as a crucial step in underscoring the importance of establishing necessary mitigation measures governing the military applications of AI through a multilateral process, underlying the collective action that needs to be taken in this rapidly evolving field.

The Conference was funded by the Government of the Republic of Korea, organized by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs and supported by the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific.

For more information, please contact UNRCPD at info-unrcpd@un.org.