Artificial Intelligence and discrimination

Photo of head made of code

The impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on human rights is one of the most crucial factors that will define the period in which we live. AI-driven technology is entering more aspects of every individual’s life, from smart home appliances to social media applications, and it is increasingly being utilised by public authorities to evaluate people’s personality or skills, allocate resources, and otherwise make decisions that can have real and serious consequences for the human rights of individuals.

Numerous studies have highlighted the risks that so-called artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision-making systems pose to the principles of equality and non-discrimination in employment, the provision of goods or services in both the public and private sectors, public security policies or even in the fight against fraud.

The study on "Discrimination, artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision-making" commissioned by the Council of Europe’s European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), identified many such challenges and stated that equality bodies have a key role to play in awareness-raising, prevention and redress. The study also showed that discrimination by AI & Automated Decision-making (ADM) systems can be addressed through different regulatory tools, including data protection and sectorial regulation such as employment laws. This calls for a cross-sectoral co-operation between national regulators in order to provide effective redress, share expertise and to share the workload.

The Committee on Anti-Discrimination, Diversity and Inclusion (CDADI) and the Gender Equality Commission (GEC) of the Council of Europe mandated the production of a Study on the impact of artificial intelligence systems, their potential for promoting equality – including gender equality - and the risks they may cause in relation to non-discrimination. Subject to the results of the above-mentioned study, the CDADI in cooperation with the GEC and the Committee on Artificial intelligence (CAI) will possibly develop a specific legal instrument addressing this matter. The Study builds on the current work of the CAI and the previous work of the Ad hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAHAI) in 2020 and 2021, in particular its Feasibility study and its document Possible elements of a legal framework on artificial intelligence, based on the Council of Europe’s standards on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The Council of Europe in partnership with equality bodies and other public institutions has set up training programmes looking at the impact of AI on discrimination. The courses support participants to acquire initial expertise on these subjects in order to better prepare them to identify and respond discrimination caused by digital technologies on behalf of their institutions.  The courses also serve as an opportunity to recall the legal framework of non-discrimination, which applies to decisions made on the basis of algorithmic processing. Finally, these training courses support the creation of a network of multipliers interested in the subject, establishing communication and supporting them to discuss their respective work and tasks.

The course in France has been implemented in partnership with the Defender of Rights. The Defender of Rights  is an independent administrative authority, responsible for defending the rights of citizens vis-à-vis administration (Ombudsperson) but which also has specific prerogatives in terms of promoting children's rights, combating discrimination, and the observance of ethics by security personnel.


The course in Belgium is implemented in partnership with the Belgian Ministry of Justice – FPS Justice, the Belgian equality body (Unia) and the Belgian Digital Transformation Office – FPS Policy and Support (BOSA).


The course in the UK has been implemented in partnership with the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) which is a UK government expert body enabling the trustworthy use of data and AI with expertise spanning data policy, public engagement and computer science.