UNESCO global MOOC on AI and the Rule of Law engaged thousands of judicial operators

Over 4,400 participants from over 140 countries registered for the online course exploring AI's impact in and for justice. The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) pioneers strengthening capacities of judicial operators worldwide on AI and the Rule of Law.
AI and Rule of Law

The UNESCO Global MOOC on AI and the Rule of Law is an introductory course engaging judicial operators in a global and timely discussion around AI application in and impact on the rule of law. Structured around six modules, it unpacks the opportunities and risks of the increasing adoption of AI technologies across justice systems and AI’s impact for the administration of justice, particularly concerning human rights, AI ethics and governance issues.

The objective of the course was to strengthen capacities of judicial operators worldwide to protect human rights, democratic principles, and the rule of law in relation to the use of AI. Judges and lawyers were the biggest groups of stakeholders who participated in the representing more than half of the participants. Fifty percent of the participants in the course were women, as per to the available data.

[The course is] an eye opener, just to see how other jurisdictions are also dealing with the issue of the rule of law. It was definitely valuable to me … having gone through this particular training, I think there is a need for continuous training on the rule of law because things keep changing.
Catherine W. Mburu Senior Resident Magistrate serving in the Judiciary of Kenya

Key Takeaways from the Participants

An evaluation showed that the participants strongly agreed that after taking the course they have a better understanding of artificial intelligence, its implications in justice systems and its impact on human rights.

The course is available in seven languages. Apart from the course content, the initial six-week phase of the MOOC was accompanied by two interactive sessions around the digitalization of justice systems and data protection, AI-based judicial decision-making and the role of human oversight, as well as an active online forum for exchange of knowledge among judicial operators worldwide.

On average the course participants strongly agreed to recommend the course to their peers and expressed interest in taking part in subsequent trainings on AI from UNESCO.

The course was offered as part of UNESCO’s Judges’ Initiative which has trained over 23,000 judicial operators since 2014. Through publications, toolkits and both online and on-the-ground training, the initiative builds the capacities of judicial operators to engage with emerging challenges and protect fundamental human rights and the freedom of expression. 

The course was developed by UNESCO and The Future Society, with the support of|, the National Judicial College, and IEEE SA. It was made possible by the kind contributions of the UNESCO Multi Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists (MDP) and the Open Society Foundations.

The course is still accessible online and can be taken as a self-paced course.

Of the many lessons learned, the most relevant is the importance of "molding" the use of AI within the Judiciary to our core ethical values through a human rights-based approach. If we as judges choose to "turn our face" and let the "tech guys" handle it, our future generations may blame us for the probable distancing the decision making of tomorrow will have from the humanistic principles we appreciate today.
Sergio Torres Teixeira Justice in the 6th Regional Labour Court of the Brazilian Labour Justice, Pernambuco, Brazil