Policy Lab: Fundamental Rights In AI & Digital Societies – Towards An International Accord

Help us get the digital right!

Final Report with Annexes

Access the Final Report from Club de Madrid’s Policy Lab 2021 co-organised with the Boston Global Forum. 

Final Report

About this ‘Policy Lab’

Almost every aspect of our lives is touched by the digital. The public debate, the existing balance of power between states, and even our relationships with other people, to name a few examples, are embedded in new information ecosystems driven by online platforms, algorithms and big data. As digital technologies and AI increasingly impact our lives, new opportunities for the enjoyment of human rights arise, but also new threats to their protection.  

On the one hand, rights offenders and repressive governments now have new tools for censorship and crackdown. On the other hand, democracies will need to work out AI’s rollout without giving up on their foundational values. More immediately, digitalisation is also posing challenges to democracies. As digital platforms collect large amounts of data, citizens and institutions voice their concerns over privacy and data misuse. If algorithms ever decide who goes to jail or to university, how can we guarantee that their decisions are not discriminatory? Who will be accountable for such high stake decision making? 

Our Policy Lab will analyse these and many other open questions of the digital revolution. Because if pending questions are answered, AI and digital technologies can develop into a significant asset to better deliver an inclusive and fair society. This is why with each passing day, governments and international organisations are becoming more convinced of the need to get the digital right. We need to ensure that digital technologies serve the people and not the other way around. 

The international community has so far failed to adopt a common governance model of digital technologies and AI based on human rights, despite several attempts to articulate such principles. This Policy Lab will serve to identify ideas and policy recommendations that can serve to build consensus around a rights-based agenda for the governance of AI and digital societies as we seek to narrow the gap between the digital and the policy world.          

Drawing on the proposals of the AIWS Social Contract 2020  the United Nations Centennial “Remaking the World – Toward an Age of Global Enlightenment” and with the unique individual and collective leadership experience of Club de Madrid Members, the Policy Lab will delve into:

-Opportunities and threats for fundamental rights in AI & digital societies.

-Transatlantic approaches to protect fundamental rights in AI & digital spaces.

-The elements & process for an international legal framework to protect fundamental rights in AI & digital spaces, towards an AI international accord.

-The Concept and Ecosystem for Digital and AI Society.

-The Global Alliance for Digital Governance

Aside from Boston Global Forum thinkers and Club de Madrid Members, the Policy Lab will also gather representatives of governments, academic institutions and think tanks, tech companies, and civil society. The outcome —a set of policy recommendations on building an international legal framework to protect fundamental rights in AI and digital spaces— will be shared with national governments and decision-makers in multilateral organisations, amongst others, so as to better inform the debate. With their agency and global reach, Members of Club de Madrid are uniquely placed to pull the levers of change and advocate for an international accord that protects fundamental rights in AI and digital spaces. 

Club de Madrid and the Boston Global Forum’s five-year plan to advocate for a rights-based approach to the age of AI for Remaking the World – Toward an Age of Global Enlightenment 

This first Policy Lab kickstarts a cycle of policy discussions between Club de Madrid and the Boston Global Forum. Throughout the years 2021-2025, both organisations will organize policy dialogues and labs of different scope and sizes, combining reflections on fundamental rights in the age of AI together with more issue-based policy discussions around specific areas where digital technologies and AI are being deployed. All activities will help drive progress in the development and adoption of rights-based instruments, norms, and standards for the governance of AI & digital societies at national, regional and global levels for “Remaking the World – Toward an Age of Global Enlightenment”.

Help us spread the word! Share the social media graphics below using the hashtag #aidigitalrights.



Boston Global Forum, co-organiser of this Policy Lab, counts with a rich body of proposals on digital governance.


Interview with Cameron Kerry, former Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Visiting Scholar, MIT Media Lab

Press Releases

Global Forum on Fundamental Rights in AI & Digital Societies Ends with Call for Urgent Action to build International Legal and Regulatory Frameworks

Global Forum on Fundamental Rights in AI & Digital Societies Highlights Central Role of United Nations Centennial Initiative

In Advance of International Parley, New Book Pushes for Global Accords on Artificial Intelligence