IGF 2022 WS #350 Why Digital Transformation and AI Matter for Justice

Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (14:30 UTC) - Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (15:30 UTC)
Banquet Hall B

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 3: Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Organizer 4: Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization

Speaker 1: Tawfik Jelassi, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization

Speaker 2: Cederic Wachholz, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization

Speaker 3: Dr John Ubena, Civil Society, African Group

Speaker 4: Ope Olugasa, Private Sector, African Group

Speaker 5: Aishwarya Giridhar, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Speaker 6: Linda Bonyo, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization

Speaker 7: Misako Ito, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization


Round Table - U-shape - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What are the potential opportunities and challenges associated with digitalization and increasing AI adoption for justice? What is the role of a judge, a lawyer, and a policymaker to responsibly address them? 2. How does digital transformation and AI adoption impact access to justice for people in different contexts? 3. How can digital transformation and AI be used to create more accountable and transparent justice systems?


16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
17. Partnerships for the Goals

Targets: 16.3 Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all. ➔ Provision of training to judicial actors on the implications of AI for human rights strengthens rule of law at the national level. ➔ Provision of training on the use of AI by courts in the administration of justice has implications for promoting access to justice through potential time saving achieved in administration of justice due to the use of AI systems for streamlining administrative processes in a manner that conform with human rights. 16.A Strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime. ➔ The project strengthens human and institutional capacities with respect to AI and the rule of law. It further builds networks between judicial actors across the world, particularly in the framework of South-South cooperation, through the use of the MOOC platform and topic specific webinars that facilitate interactions between judges from different countries. 16.B Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development ➔ The MOOC addresses the concerns around bias and discrimination in AI driven automated decision making systems being used by judicial systems and law- enforcement agencies. 16.10 Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements ➔ The MOOC works towards protecting fundamental freedoms by facilitating knowledge exchange and strengthening capacities of judicial operators concerning AI and the rule of law. 17.8 Fully operationalize the technology bank and science, technology and innovation capacity-building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017 and enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology ➔ An indirect impact of the MOOC would be to positively enhance the quality of the legal environment in which ICTs are developed and used, which may engender greater innovation and adoption of such technologies.


Digital transformation, and in particular the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI), has unprecedented potential to improve lives and livelihoods around the world and make remarkable progress toward achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. But while the socioeconomic opportunities are enormous, they are inextricably linked to risks and challenges. Given the immense potential to improve the effectiveness of justice systems, increase access to justice worldwide, support judicial decision-making, and help detect and prevent crime, this session organized by The Future Society and UNESCO will focus on the impact of digital and artificial intelligence on justice, with an emphasis on the African region.

The workshop will explore how digital transformation and artificial intelligence can be used to support justice in Africa while upholding the rule of law. It will highlight improvements, with the e-judiciary, and how ICT and AI tools can be a solution for the administration of Justice. It will then present the AI tools currently in use and showcase the impact of these systems on the judiciary. While recognizing the immense potential for change, the session will also consider the related challenges to AI, and the changing role of judicial actors worldwide with the aim to uphold the rule of law in the AI era. In doing so, experts will highlight the important need for capacity building and present UNESCO's Judges Initiative and programme on AI and the Rule of Law in the African Region. 

The workshop will explore how digital transformation and artificial intelligence can be used to support justice in Africa while upholding the rule of law. The session will present tools and opportunities that are currently being used, as well as the challenges posed by these technologies. Finally, the workshop will explore the changing role of justice actors in upholding the rule of law in the age of AI and highlight the crucial need for capacity building by presenting UNESCO’s upcoming global training toolkit on AI and the Rule of Law. 

The aim of the session will be to promote a participative dialogue between national and international policymakers, judges, lawyers, and other judicial stakeholders in order to collectively identify pathways for ensuring the trustworthy adoption of AI in justice systems and for justice systems. To realize the opportunities and mitigate the risks for justice systems worldwide, the session will help build the capacity of judicial operators to protect the rule of law in this new age of AI. Furthermore, it will enable knowledge exchange between regions and across stakeholder groups in order to produce solutions that are sustainable and truly operational. 

The dialogue will directly build from the pioneering Massive Open Online Course on AI and the Rule of Law (MOOC), developed by UNESCO, The Future Society, Cetic.br/NIC.br, the National Judicial College, and IEEE SA (https://www.judges.org/ai_and_law/register/). The course is composed of six introductory modules and engages justice stakeholders in a global and timely discussion on AI and its impact on the rule of law. Up to date, over 4400 judicial operators from over 140 countries have already registered. Moving forward, the partnering organizations will continue to strengthen capacity and facilitate the training of judicial operators and judicial training institutions on AI and the rule of law, notably through further dissemination of the course, and the upcoming UNESCO Global Training toolkit on AI and the Rule of Law and joint complementary educational materials. 

Expected Outcomes

The Future Society and UNESCO would like to use the workshop to advance on their shared mission to enhance capacities of judicial operators, legal actors, and other relevant stakeholders so they can be better equipped to navigate AI risks in justice contexts, help enforce AI policies, and continue to safeguard values related to human rights, democratic foundations, and the rule of law in the age of AI. We hope to use the workshop as a forum for inclusive and interactive input on how to continue to strengthen the knowledge exchange around AI and the rule of law. Building from the successful launch of the online course on AI and the Rule of Law which has engaged over 4400 individuals, the session will help build awareness of the curriculum and encourage more stakeholders to complete the six introductory modules. It will also facilitate a participative dialogue on the latest developments in regards to AI and justice, and widen the conversation to ensure diverse perspectives reflecting various demographics contexts are represented. The conversation complements and will feed into the current development of a UNESCO Global Training Toolkit for Judicial Operators, to be used to facilitate training at the national level through training the trainers' workshops. It will also complement and inform the dialogue of The Athens Roundtable on AI and the Rule of Law and the 2023 agenda for the working group on Judicial and Legal Education on AI, which is working on developing complementary education material for judges and legal actors.

Hybrid Format: We plan to hold a synchronous hybrid session where both online and onsite participants are engaged and can interact with each other in real-time. -We will provide clear instructions to both onsite and online participants before the session. This means sending out an agenda, the draft outcome of the policy questions and principles, and providing clear instructions on how to join the conference and access any materials that will be used during the session. -We will make sure the audio and video quality of the speakers online, and of the participant’s room onsite are good for all participants. This means using a high-quality microphone and camera and testing the audio and video setup in advance. By ensuring a specific camera angle (onsite), we would like to have all participants in camera for the online viewers, to ensure fluent communication between both. Furthermore, we will make sure speakers have a strong and reliable Internet connection to support both the onsite and online participants. -We will plan for interactive elements that will engage both onsite and online participants. This could include polls and surveys, pre-designated Q&A sessions where participants will have the opportunity to ask questions or voice comments directly (onsite participants can use a microphone and online participants will be encourage to turn on their cameras and voice their remarks directly), and complementary online tools such as Miro that participants can brainstorm ideas and collaborate on the workshop in real-time. -Lastly, we will encourage participants to register for the online course on AI and the Rule of Law before the session and allow them to start asking questions and making comments in the discussion forum beforehand. This way, we can have a better understanding of what frequent questions and topics are before the session. We will also encourage participants to continue the information exchange on the discussion forum following the event.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool.


Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Judicial operators play an important role as guardians of justice in the digital age, and need to have the latest knowledge on how technology can help them strengthen access and delivery of justice while being mindful of the associated human rights, democracy and rule of law related risks of technologies like artificial intelligence.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

UNESCO’s Judges Initiative empowers judges, lawyers and policymakers to better fulfil their responsibilities as the duty bearers to protect human rights and the rule of law. UNESCO supports judicial operators worldwide in this endeavour through through knowledge sharing, open educational resources, and capacity building efforts.

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

As uses of AI proliferate, whether through the use of surveillance tools or algorithms that amplify disinformation, judicial operators as duty bearers play an important role in protecting human rights and the rule of law. Through partnerships, capacity building efforts, open educational resources, and standards related to new technologies like AI, UNESCO supports judicial operators in creating open and accessible justice systems.


As judiciaries worldwide face a large backlog of cases, they are working to make administration of justice more efficient, timely and people friendly. For instance, a panelist underlined that in a West African country, the number of cases filed is more than four times the number of cases closed. However, technologies like AI are helping address this challenge as electronic law reports, AI-powered document review, e-registries, e-payments, and a range of digital transformation measures have led to a 200% increase in the number of cases resolved by the Court of Appeals between 2009 and 2019.


Faster case resolution is necessary, but there are significant challenges to the inclusive, sustainable, and transparent use of AI. These include a lack of transparency and trust in the judiciary, challenges with digitization and infrastructural capacity, and privacy concerns.


At the same time, the role of judicial operators is evolving. They need to be aware of the use of technology in the justice system, technological bias, and varying levels of digital literacy to improve access to justice. In the courts, the focus is on building the infrastructure to support digitization, but more can be done when it comes to hiring to acquire digital skills.


A key finding of capacity building in UNESCO’s AI Needs Assessment Survey in Africa is the need to create localized data sets to inform AI. Currently, AI systems are often trained on low-quality and unrepresentative data sets and are then deployed in the African context.


The discussion emphasized the role of interoperability between within the judicial systems and law enforcement. The judiciary, law enforcement, and administration should have interoperable systems. Currently, discussions about interoperability are conducted in isolation - those responsible for digital policy in government are not working with those responsible for digital transformation in the justice system