On June 8th, 2023, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met with US President Joe Biden in Washington. Meeting in the East Wing of the White House, the two unveiled The Atlantic Declaration; a restatement to a future of financial collaboration between the UK and the US in a rapidly advancing international economy.
This new agreement comes only two years after the New Atlantic Charter, signed by Biden and former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The 2021 charter lists eleven key principles to be promoted between the two nations, such as democracy, mutual defence, and rule of law among other core values.
While restating these same goals of alliance, this year’s Atlantic Declaration takes a more specific approach to the issues that have sprung up in the past two years; namely Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the growth of artificial intelligence.
In the 2021 New Atlantic Charter, mutual defence is regarded in terms of deterrents, primarily as a counter to the growing nuclear threat posed by North Korea, as well as the United State’s exit from the Iran Nuclear Deal. In the 2021 charter, Biden and Johnson write, “We have declared our nuclear deterrents to the defence of NATO and as long as there are nuclear weapons, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance.” However, since the onset of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the role of NATO has changed, becoming a vital resource in defending Ukraine’s territory. This prompted a revision in the 2023 declaration, where the statement on mutual defence now reads, “We [NATO] have stood shoulder to shoulder in our resolve to support Ukraine for as long as it takes in the face of Russia’s illegal, unjustifiable, and unprovoked war of aggression and to preserve a free, independent, and sovereign Ukraine.”
This change of language is a clear gauge for the effects of recent developments in international relations, and marks a more aggressive stance for the future of defence between the UK and US.
The Atlantic Declaration’s heightened stance may also be seen as a further deterrent to the growing tensions surrounding China’s growing influence in the Pacific. In November of 2022, the United States Department of Defence committed the nation’s armed forces to the defence of Taiwan, as the threat of Chinese invasion became more acute.
The new declaration reflects this with the following statement: “Through our deeper engagement in the Indo-Pacific we are working more closely than ever before with our partners to support a free and open region.” With this additional perspective, the updated Atlantic Declaration can be seen as continuation of this commitment to defence in the Pacific.
The second big takeaway is ADAPT, or the Atlantic Declaration Action Plan for a Twenty-First Century Economic Partnership. In addition to continuing the partnerships that have produced over £1.5 trillion in stocks and 2.7 million jobs, between the two economies, ADAPT makes multiple advances towards the incorporation of new technologies. The Declaration outlines policy towards new technology in five major steps, chiefly, the commitment to “ensuring U.S.-UK leadership in critical and emerging technologies.” Among the technologies listed, such as advancements in green energy and synthetic biology, the rapid development of artificial intelligence takes paramount importance.
The Atlantic Declaration emphasizes getting an early start on supervising the growth of AI. One of the ways the agreement seeks to do this is by increasing collaboration on the development of new AI technologies to ensure, “the safe and responsible development of the technology.” To secure the safety of future AI development, the Atlantic Declaration proposes enhancing privacy enhancing technologies (PETs), which allow for the processing and collection of personal data in ways that protect confidentiality and privacy.
In recent years, PETs have been revolutionized through methods of federated analytics, which involves data being processed at its source, sending mere summaries and statistics to those involved in the execution process.
In terms of development of AI technologies, the United Kingdom looks to host the first Global Summit on Artificial Intelligence later this year. This summit looks to “bring together key countries, leading tech companies and researchers” in order to discuss the “most significant risks of AI.” Currently, the UK sits behind China and the United States as having the third largest AI sector, which contributes 3.7 billion and 50,000 jobs to the UK economy. For these reasons, the United Kingdom stands ready capitalize on the global discussion around artificial intelligence technologies.
Commitment to collaboration in the face of new technologies and conflicts sets the stage for a new era of comprehensive co-operation in key policy areas between the United Kingdom and United States. With international relations in a state of flux, this commitment could not come at a better time.