Artificial Intelligence, Regulation, and the Right to Development - Thematic study by the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development
15 August 2026
The fifth study will address artificial intelligence, regulation, and the right to development.
As artificial intelligence inevitably replaces many human jobs, arguably it also deprives people of meaningful and effective participation in their lives. High-risk artificial intelligence activity, far from benefiting humanity, can cause it serious physical harm. In such circumstances, the promotion of public participation, scientific integrity and reliable, robust, and trustworthy artificial intelligence applications is fundamental to positive progress in artificial intelligence.
In the absence of robust laws that go beyond ethical principles, there is a real risk that the right to development will be breached as a result of a lack of effective and meaningful participation through which individuals and peoples contribute to and enjoy economic, social, cultural, and political development in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.
Whether modelling climate change, selecting job candidates or predicting if someone will commit a crime, AI can replace humans and make more decisions more quickly and cheaply. Whilst AI has been in many respects, a force for good, algorithmic bias can perpetuate existing structures of inequality in our societies and lead to various forms of discrimination. As AI inevitably replaces many human jobs, arguably, it also deprives humanity of meaningful and effective participation in their lives. Furthermore, high-risk AI activity, far from benefiting humanity, can cause serious physical harm to it.
In those circumstances, promotion of reliable, robust, and trustworthy AI applications, public participation and scientific integrity are fundamental to positive AI progress. Transparency, trust, and authorisation should be at the core of this progress.
However, most AI initiatives developed in recent years globally have largely happened without any regulatory oversight. With the exception of ethical guidelines, legislators across the globe have not yet designed domestic laws that specifically regulate the use of AI. The proposed EU AI Act may be the first example of forthcoming binding legislation in this field, but it is not yet clear how it will develop, and to what extent if any, it will have an extra-territorial impact. It is also not apparent that it will have a ripple effect in other regions or countries in the world.
Therefore, in absence of robust laws that go beyond ethical principles, there is a real risk that the right to development will be breached if there is lack of effective and meaningful participation through which individuals and peoples contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural, and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realised. This risk should be mitigated through robust regulation, which necessarily includes the right to pause AI development (akin to the concept of ‘the right not to develop’ as sometimes is relied upon by indigenous people).
Any innovation and development at the expense of human rights is counterproductive. A right-based approach is essential to AI progress.
Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development
Ms. Klentiana MAHMUTAJ (Albania)