New Text Calls for Creation of United Nations Panel to Investigate Potential Role of Science, Technology in Disarmament
States must join forces to combat the rising threat of non-State actors maliciously using information and communications technology to destabilize socioeconomic development, delegates told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today as they discussed ways to prevent cyberattacks.
Introducing a new draft resolution on the role of science in that regard, India’s representative emphasized that as “the dark side of innovation is moving from the frontier to the front door”, it was critical to ensure a correct understanding of the latest developments in science and technology to allow work in multilateral forums to adjust accordingly.
Asking the Committee to support the draft text, he said it would have the General Assembly request that the Secretary-General create a panel of experts in diverse fields of science and technology to assess current developments and their potential impact on international security and disarmament efforts.
Echoing a common concern, Brazil’s representative warned against the militarization of information and communications technology and the emergence of new systems of related weapons that might trigger a new arms race. Pakistan’s representative highlighted the growing threat of lethal autonomous weapon systems, calling for a pre-emptive prohibition on further developing such arms. He also supported the establishment of a group of governmental experts to discuss those issues in the context of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
Yemen’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, welcomed the United Nations establishment of regulatory principles to address concerns about the possibility of information and communications technology being used to damage the political, economic and scientific efforts of States.
Elaborating on that point, the delegate of the Netherlands highlighted the usefulness of recommendations made in the 2013 and 2015 reports of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security. Those “landmark achievements” had acknowledged that international law and particularly the United Nations Charter was applicable and essential in maintaining peace and stability and promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful information and communications technology environment, she said.
Delegates, including Indonesia’s representative, called for an international legal framework to address malicious acts. Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, he underscored the importance of developing such a framework within the United Nations and in full accordance with the principles of sovereignty, non-interference and peaceful coexistence among States as fundamental in preventing and mitigating such threats.
Likewise, Paraguay’s delegate urged delegates to adopt norms which regulated information and communications technology processes in the context of international peace and security. Such guidance would help to bridge the technological divide between developing and developed countries, he said.
Expressing concerns about access to technology, Algeria’s representative said that even though new information and communications technology products offered many opportunities to boost socioeconomic development, their use by terrorist groups posed a real danger. As such, dual-use information and communications technology should not thwart the transfer of those technologies to States that needed them, especially developing countries, he emphasized.
Other delegates, including the representative of Switzerland, stressed the importance of an open, free, accessible and secure cyberspace. The delegate of the United States underlined creating a climate in which all States could enjoy the benefits of cyberspace was a fundamental goal of her country. She also introduced a draft resolution on compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments.
Briefing the Committee at the outset of the meeting, Karsten Diethelm Geier, Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, highlighted the need to continue discussions on information and communications technology.
He emphasized that because each State had a stake in cybersecurity, a global understanding of threats and the ways to mitigate them was needed and must be pursued through the United Nations. He also highlighted the importance of involving the private sector, civil society and others in developing capacity and confidence-building measures.
The Committee also held a panel discussion on “Regional disarmament and security”.
During the debate on conventional weapons, the representatives of Botswana, Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Iraq, Argentina, Nigeria, Iran, Niger, Ethiopia, and Mali and Brazil delivered statements.
The debate on other disarmament measures and international security featured the representatives from Singapore (also for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Antigua and Barbuda (for the Caribbean Community), Switzerland, Canada, United Kingdom, Finland, Estonia, Cuba, Greece, China, France, Germany, Zambia, Russian Federation, Austria, Mexico, Australia, Iran and Bangladesh, as well as the European Union.
Delivering statements during the discussion on regional disarmament and security were representatives of Indonesia (for the Non-Aligned Movement), Yemen (for the Arab Group), Belize (for the Caribbean Community), Malaysia (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), United States and Paraguay, as well as the European Union.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Israel, Iran, United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The First Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 24 October, to begin its thematic debate on the disarmament machinery.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met to continue its thematic discussion on conventional weapons and hear a briefing by the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security. It also began its thematic debate on other disarmament measures and international security. For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.
KARSTEN DIETHELM GEIER, Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, highlighted its work, noting its inability to reach consensus during its previous two cycles. During the 2015‑2016 cycle, it had failed doing so, but not for lack of trying. Still, efforts had helped to increase transparency around the Group and obtain outside input. Experts based their deliberations on trying to formulate concrete guidance on how to help States to implement recommendations contained in previous reports. Under discussion on information and communications technology were its increasingly malicious use by non-State actors and how that could impair global information and communications technology systems, and its use to interfere in the affairs of other States and to conduct criminal activities.
He said that in discussing how to take forward responsible norms of behaviours by States and how to respond to attacks on critical infrastructure, members had made suggestions on how to prevent non-State actors from conducting malicious information and communications technology activities. They also made concrete suggestions related to confidence building, including guidance on points of contact and procedures to request information from other States. The importance of involving private sector, civil society and others in capacity building was also raised.
Despite convergence on these points, significant differences remained, he said. During the 2016‑2017 cycle, members had been unable to agree on a consensus report on its last day of discussions, he said, regretting to note that many good points had not been carried forward by a generally accepted document, which would have been useful to Member States. Pointing out that information and communications technology had been discussed at the United Nations since 1998 and that tremendous progress had been made, he emphasized that previous reports stood unaffected by the current lack of consensus. Highlighting remaining differences, he said “we do ourselves no favour to paper over divisions”.
Each State had a stake in cybersecurity, he said. As such, there was a need to continue discussions and increase transparency and inclusivity. A global understanding of threats and the ways to mitigate them was needed and must be pursued through the United Nations. In terms of holding another Group of Governmental Experts meeting, alternatives should be explored to identify the best format. Meanwhile, a consensual approach allowing for further progress must be found prior to the General Assembly’s seventy‑third session.
LORATO LUCKY MOTSUMI (Botswana), associating herself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said peace was elusive in a world where armed conflicts were on the rise. Control measures for conventional weapons must limit their illicit trafficking, particularly because they caused the greatest civilian casualties. Welcoming the adoption of a declaration on improvised explosive devices, she reiterated Botswana’s support for the fifth Review Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects. Guided by the Maputo Action Plan 2014‑2019, Botswana was committed to efforts to eliminate anti-personnel mines around the world and to working with partners in areas such as arms control and money laundering.
RY TUY (Cambodia), associating himself with ASEAN and Non-Aligned Movement, his country had, after experiencing civil war, famine and starvation, turned to United Nations rehabilitation programmes, adopting confidence-building measures, especially in the fields of conventional arms, anti-personnel mine clearance and the reintegration of mine victims. Subregional and regional cooperation, information-sharing mechanisms and trans-border customs cooperation and networks must be established or strengthened. In that vein, Cambodia would host in December a regional seminar for ASEAN members and Timor‑Leste on the illicit trafficking and the diversion of small arms, light weapons and other conventional arms and ammunition. It was with collaboration and support from the international community and donors that most of Cambodia’s agricultural lands were now mine-free, even though some rural areas remained to be cleared, he said, noting that because of Cambodia’s experiences, ASEAN had established a regional mine action centre in Phnom Penh.
WENDBIGDA HONORINE BONKOUNGOU (Burkina Faso), associating herself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons threatened international peace, security and stability, fuelling transnational crime and terrorism in many regions and preventing the socioeconomic development of some States. Noting that more than 877 million such weapons were in circulation, she welcomed the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, which would complement the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials, as would the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, and the Register of Conventional Arms. Implementing such instruments would allow Burkina Faso to thwart trafficking. Turning to concerns about anti-personnel mines, she called for the universalization of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction. She also called on all States to pool efforts to provide assistance to countries affected by such weapons. Cluster bombs also hampered access to large fertile land, she said, calling for the universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Mr. AL-RIKABI (Iraq), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the challenges posed by the development of conventional weapons was no different from those posed by weapons of mass destruction. Having recently acceded to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Iraq was committed to implementing all of its provisions. Noting that the indiscriminate spread and trade of small arms and light weapons presented a serious threat to security, he said concerted efforts must continue to reactivate the Programme of Action on Small Arms. Iraq had been deeply affected by anti-personnel mines, with terrorists having deployed such weapons across large swaths of territory, resulting in destructive effects on the environment and economy. In that context, he called on donor countries to coordinate with Iraq to provide assistance to help address that grave concern.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said the international community should spare no effort in dealing with the proliferation of conventional weapons. For its part, Argentina had complied with many international legal instruments, co-authored the Arms Trade Treaty and had created a mechanism for keeping weapon-related materials safe. Argentina had also joined the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which should be used as a framework to negotiate the prohibition of other arms, including lethal autonomous weapons systems and anti-personnel mines. The humanitarian consequences of the use of those weapons called for a concerted effort by the international community, he said, adding that Argentina promoted confidence-building measures.
KINGSLEY WEINOH (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said illicit trafficking and the use of small arms and light weapons had undermined peace and security and caused the displacement of people. Demanding renewed efforts to prevent and combat the illicit conventional weapons trade, he welcomed the Arms Trade Treaty, which must be robustly implemented, and urged States to join without delay. Nigeria had redoubled efforts in strengthening its national borders and had signed and ratified related international legal instruments. Nigeria was ready to work with other delegations in transforming the vision of international peace and security into reality for the future generations.
ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), associating himself with Non-Aligned Movement, said his country’s missile programme was a basic defence requirement that should be viewed in the context of living in a volatile region rather than being assessed in a vacuum. Iran’s military expenditure had decreased since 2007, indicating a restraint, given the skyrocketing security challenges in the region. Through that lens, its missile programme had a purely defensive character and would continue with full force, he said, objecting to arguments that considered Iran’s missile launches to be inconsistent with Security Council resolution 2231 (2015). That resolution only called upon Iran not to undertake activity related to missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, which Iran’s were not, he emphasized.
Mr. ISSA (Niger), said the international community’s efforts to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction and address concerns about conventional weapons had been demonstrated, including through in the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, Programme of Action on Small Arms, Arms Trade Treaty and the establishment of practical confidence-building measures through the Disarmament Commission. For its part, Niger had good relations with its neighbours and had ratified all legal international and regional instruments on disarmament and international security. He emphasized that firearms control was crucial in West Africa and the Sahel, areas that had been greatly affected by the uncontrolled circulation and proliferation of firearms due to armed conflicts, terrorism and drug trafficking.
MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia), associating herself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said her country continued to suffer from the spread of small arms and light weapons because of porous borders, the presence of refugee camps and vast arid areas. Domestic terrorist groups had been using the weapons to provoke and instigate unemployed youth to carry out violent activities. To address those concerns, Ethiopia was raising public awareness and enhancing efforts to boost inter-agency coordination between law enforcement institutions, he said, noting that her delegation looked forward to the third Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the International Tracing Instrument to be held in 2018. Emphasizing the importance of the Mine Ban Convention, she said Ethiopia was committed to destroying its stockpiles. However, the shortage and obsolete condition of related equipment had hampered that goal, she said, emphasizing that the main responsibility of completing the destruction of mines lay with States parties and that the full implementation of all Mine Ban Convention provisions depended largely on the availability of resources and technical support.
NOËL DIARRA (Mali) said that while small arms and light weapons did not appear to be as sophisticated as weapons of mass destruction, they were more deadly in terms of casualties. In Mali, terrorist groups had used small arms and light weapons, attacking women and children and undermining development efforts. Mali was committed to combating conventional weapons trafficking in West Africa and the Sahel region. Yet, the activities of terrorist groups and traffickers represented a real challenge when it came to combating the arms proliferation and porous borders that needed to be strengthened to stop illegal weapons transfers. Highlighting the link between development and security, as demonstrated in Sustainable Development Goal 16.4., he said Mali had submitted a draft resolution on assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them.
ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil), noting that his country hoped to join the Arms Trade Treaty soon, said a national export control system currently in place was already operating largely in compliance with the instrument. To avoid the detrimental effects of unregulated international arms transfers, major weapons exporters must join the Arms Trade Treaty. He also expressed support for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which provided a useful framework to address current and future humanitarian challenges in armed conflicts. Acknowledging the humanitarian challenge posed by improvised explosive devices, he condemned that those devices had been increasingly used against civilians. On that issue, Brazil had undertaken efforts to prevent the diversion of relevant controlled materials that could be used to produce such weapons, he said, noting the important connection linking the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the Arms Trade Treaty and the Programme of Action on Small Arms.
Other Disarmament Measures and International Security
DANNY RAHDIANSYAH (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, highlighted the important socioeconomic opportunities provided by information and communications technology and expressed concern over the cases of its illegal use that were detrimental to States. Developing a legal framework to address such violations should be pursued within the United Nations and in full accordance with the principles of sovereignty, non-interference and peaceful coexistence among States.
Turning to the work of the related Group of Governmental Experts, he called for transparency and the strict application of the principle of equitable geographical representation in its membership. In that context, he regretted to note that a request by developing countries for participation in the recently constituted Group of Governmental Experts had not been considered.
MARWAN ALI NOMAN AL-DOBHANY (Yemen), on behalf of the Arab Group, associated himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, saying that solutions approved within a multilateral framework and the Charter of the United Nations were the only way to deal with disarmament and international security issues. He also underlined the fact that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction threatened sustainable development for all.
Turning to the preparation and implementation of disarmament and arms limitation agreements, he stressed the importance of observing environmental norms. Concerned about the possibility of information and communications technology being used to damage the political, economic and scientific efforts of States, he welcomed the United Nations establishment of regulatory principles. He also emphasized the need for international cooperation and for the United Nations to play a central role in related initiatives.
JOSEPH TEO CHOON HENG (Singapore), speaking on behalf of ASEAN, said members had secured regional peace and strengthened national resilience. As cyberthreats and attacks undermined trust in the digital future, ASEAN had adopted the Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy in March and had taken several other steps to foster regional cooperation, including support for ongoing work to promote international voluntary cybernorms of responsible State behaviour and the development of a rules-based cyberspace. He also supported discussions on the adoption of basic, operational and voluntary norms of behaviour to guide information and communications technology use based on the norms set out in the 2015 report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.
Capacity building was an important aspect to enhancing the region’s ability to respond to threats, he said, welcoming the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between ASEAN and the United Nations (2016‑2020). Cybersecurity required coordinated expertise from stakeholders across different domains, as Governments did not have all the answers. A large percentage of cyberinfrastructure, resources and expertise was in the hands of the private sector, thus necessitating that sector’s involvement.
Mr. HENG, speaking in his national capacity, said the annual Singapore International Cyber Week had facilitated conversations on key issues such as norms or responsible State behaviour in cyberspace and cybersecurity capacity building. Singapore had also launched a $10 million ASEAN cybercapacity programme, which was a modular, multi-stakeholder and multidisciplinary initiative to build capacity across policy and technical areas. Partnering with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, Singapore had helped to develop a flagship United Nations online training course on the use of information and communications technologies and international security.
CARMEN GONSALVES (Netherlands) said the Internet — increasingly regarded as a “global public good” — must remain open, safe and free for all. Expressing regret that, despite efforts, the related Group of Governmental Experts had failed to arrive at a consensus on views and recommendations regarding norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour of States, she said its 2013 and 2015 reports were “landmark achievements” and a cause for optimism. The 2013 report had acknowledged that international law and particularly the United Nations Charter was applicable and essential in maintaining peace and stability and promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful information and communications technology environment. Important progress on the operationalization of the application of international law had been made in the 2015 consensus report. Both reports had agreed on common norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour, confidence-building measures and understandings on capacity building that would serve as the building blocks for more stable and predictable interaction among States, she said, urging States to implement the recommendations during the present period of reflection.
JUDIT KÖRÖMI, European Union delegation, expressed regret that the Group of Governmental experts had not reached an agreement on an additional report beyond its 2015 consensus recommendations. The European Union would continue to implement the consensual views articulated in previous reports and invited other international actors to do the same. The bloc would continue to promote the establishment of strategic frameworks for conflict prevention, cooperation and stability in cyberspace, which must be based on the application of existing international law, especially the United Nations Charter in its entirety. It also supported the development and implementation of universal norms of responsible State behaviour, bolstered by targeted regional confidence-building measures between States.
She said States’ information and communications technology use should be guided by principles such as sovereign equality, non-intervention in the internal affairs of other States, the obligation to settle international disputes by peaceful means, the right to respond to internationally wrongful acts, the obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the right to self-defence. The European Union was committed to addressing cyberthreats globally by assisting third countries in responding to such challenges and increasing law enforcement capabilities to investigate and prosecute cybercrime perpetrators. In addition, member States had adopted a framework for a joint European Union diplomatic response to malicious cyberactivities, which contributed to conflict prevention, cooperation and stability in cyberspace.
WALTON WEBSON (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of CARICOM, underlined the importance of considering gender perspectives in advancing effort to achieve disarmament goals. Citing Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and a similar CARICOM-sponsored draft resolution for addressing the vital links between women and disarmament, she said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons recognized the importance of equal, full and effective participation of both men and women in achieving sustainable peace and security. Additionally, delegates at the sixth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms, had agreed to ensure the participation of women in implementation processes and encourage the collection of disaggregated data on gender and illicit small arms and light weapons.
Recognizing those links was particularly relevant and important to her region, she said. While men were most often the victims of gun crimes, women were left to become the sole bread-winner for families and risked falling into poverty. For that reason, women must be included in the disarmament discussion at all levels. While her region was not affected by armed conflict, it faced tremendous challenges in relation to armed violence. Approximately 70 per cent of homicides in the region involved the use of firearms, and as a result, resources had to be diverted away from development. A diverse range of perspectives was needed to ensure that decisions reflected global concerns. She also emphasized that the underrepresentation of lower-income countries at disarmament forums must be addressed in a holistic manner.
SABRINA DALLAFIOR MATTER (Switzerland) stressed the importance of an open, free, accessible and secure cyberspace. Switzerland, having participated in the recent Group of Governmental Experts meetings, deeply regretted that it had not adopted a consensus report that would have submitted substantive recommendations to the General Assembly. Despite significant progress on recommendations for confidence-building measures and capacity-building, it had failed to fulfil its mandate with regard to the application of international law and information and communications technology use. Expressing concern about the hesitation of certain States to recognize the crucial role of international law in promoting a peaceful and cooperative approach to cybersecurity, she said the United Nations should play an active role in that field and provide practical guidance to States on steps they could take to operationalize and implement the recommendations of the 2015 Group of Governmental Experts report, including norms, rules and principles of responsible State behaviour.
VISHAL KAPUR (Canada) noted that small arms proliferation had facilitated and perpetuated violence against women and girls, including acts of sexual violence and domestic abuse. Due to entrenched gender roles in many societies, women had to bear the primary responsibility of caring for survivors and were often indirect victims. In times of conflict, women played a variety of roles, including protectors, combatants, arms dealers, smugglers and providers of support to armed actors. Given those gender dimensions, the international community must strive to increase the meaningful inclusion of women as full partners in security, disarmament and arms control discussions, including in the tracking and analysis of illicit trafficking networks and trends, in all aspects of the destruction of small arms and light weapons and in international negotiations and peace processes.
RACHEL HICKS (United States), noting that creating a climate in which all States could enjoy the benefits of cyberspace was a fundamental goal of her country, introduced a draft resolution on compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments. There was broad consensus that compliance with international treaties to prevent further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was a central element of the international security architecture. Without the confidence that countries would honour their commitments, the deals made would not be “worth the paper on which they were printed”. In that sense, she said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had demonstrated unlawful and dangerous behaviour, including its failure to comply with disarmament and non-proliferation obligations. She then urged the First Committee to make clear that compliance was essential to peace and security, by supporting the draft resolution on the issue.
AMANDEEP SINGH GILL (India), introducing a new draft resolution on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament (document A/C.1/72/L.52), said the potential of science and technology for resolving the world’s most intractable problems could help the United Nations system progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. However, “the dark side of innovation is moving from the frontier to the front door”, he said, emphasizing that it was critical to ensure a correct understanding of the latest developments in science and technology to allow work in multilateral forums to adjust accordingly.
Asking the Committee to support the draft text, he said provisions would have the General Assembly call for a comprehensive study of such developments, which would be conducted through a science and security panel established by the United Nations Secretary-General. The panel would be composed of 18 independent experts drawn from relevant areas including scientific research, industry, disarmament and international law and ethics. By the draft, the General Assembly would request that Under-Secretary-General to submit a final report containing the panel’s assessments for the General Assembly’s consideration at its seventy-fifth session.
ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) said access to information and communications technology should contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security and be protected against criminal or terrorist use. Paraguay had adopted a national cybersecurity programme, which would act as a tool for bolstering the security of critical assets and ensuring a reliable and secure cyberspace. However, national efforts could only be sustainable with cooperation, he said, emphasizing the importance of international cooperation for the effective implementation of a mechanism to prevent cyberattacks. Urging delegates to adopt norms that regulated information and communications technology processes in the context of international peace and security, he said that doing so would help to bridge the technological divide between developing and developed countries.
LARISSA SCHNEIDER CALZA (Brazil) said the militarization of information and communications technology and emergence of new systems of related weapons might lead to a new type of arms race. To ensure the peaceful use of those technologies, Brazil favoured strengthening multilateral norms and principles applicable to the conduct of States. Those norms should respect to the free flow of information and human rights, she said, urging the international community to examine the need to develop a specific legal framework to address proscribed behaviours, including offensive first use, tampering with the supply chain, intentionally introducing vulnerabilities into systems and networks and compromising information security of other States. She encouraged all States to consider the adoption of a “no-first-use” norm with regards to offensive operations using information and communications technology. Confidence-building measures and increased international assistance and cooperation must also aim at achieving an open and secure information and communications technology environment. Having been active in the Groups of Governmental Experts, she said its format must evolve to be more inclusive and allow for the adequate participation of all countries, including developing countries.
MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said new information and communications technology products offered many opportunities to bolster socioeconomic development of countries. However, their use by terrorist groups represented a threat to international peace and security. Dual-use information and communications technology should not thwart the transfer of those technologies to States that needed them, especially developing countries. Algeria had adopted a comprehensive approach for cyber- and general disarmament, establishing relevant tools and an entity to stop cybercrime and protect national security. Having ratified African and Arab agreements on fighting information-related cybercrime and promoting collaboration among countries, Algeria promoted prosperity and human development in many fields. Yet, using artificial intelligence could pose great humanitarian, ethical and legal challenges. For that reason, the international community should adopt clear legislation, he said, emphasizing the importance of compliance with environmental standards when preparing and implementing disarmament agreements.
JEHAZEB KHAN (Pakistan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said lethal autonomous weapon systems were unethical, unable to comply with international law, lowered the threshold for war and would negatively affect progress on arms control and disarmament. Calling for a pre-emptive prohibition on further developing those weapons, he supported the establishment of a group of governmental experts to discuss those issues in the context of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Raising other concerns, he said the transborder unauthorized use of armed drones constituted a violation of international law, he said, citing the Human Rights Council’s opposition to targeting civilians with drones, which amounted to extrajudicial killings. The threat of non-State actors and terrorists acquiring such weapons was additionally worrisome. The misuse and unregulated use of information and communications technology also had grave implications for international peace and security, especially as the hostile activities involving cybertechnologies advanced.
The Committee held a panel discussion on “Regional disarmament and security”. The panellists included Mary Soliman, Chief of the Regional Disarmament Branch of the Department of Disarmament Affairs; Anselme Yabouri, the Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa; Melanie Rigimbal, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean; and Yuriy Kryvonos, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific.
Ms. SOLIMAN said the centres would continue to foster cooperation with United Nations partners, regional organizations and other stakeholders to prevent the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, in particular their diversion to non-State armed groups. With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the centres would work with Member States towards realizing the 2030 Agenda, especially Goal 16.4, she said. In that vein, they would continue to apply a synergistic approach and cooperate with relevant partners and stakeholders, building on comparative advantages and complementarities. That would ensure the effective delivery of their mandate with maximum benefit to Member States in their respective regions. Looking ahead, they would continue to work with Member States to identify strategic priority areas for their respective regions, taking into consideration global trends, developments, challenges and opportunities. As they depended on extra-budgetary resources, she encouraged all Member States to support them through voluntary contributions.
Mr. YABOURI said work had been done with the African Union Commission to support the implementation of its initiative to “silence the guns by 2020” and of the 2030 Agenda. In the Sahel, efforts included the implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the region through its participation in inter-agency discussions. In Central Africa, substantive support was provided for the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa at its forty-third and forty-fourth ministerial meetings. The regional centre had also participated in the annual meeting of heads of United Nations field presences in the Central African region in March 2017. It had held several joint consultations with ECOWAS and had provided assistance for implementing regional and national action plans to African Member States and relevant civil society organizations related to global and regional instruments to combat the illicit trade and proliferation of small arms and light weapons. While the sustained number of requests for assistance from Member States demonstrated the importance of its work, more was needed to advance peace and control in Africa given its gloomy peace and security situation.
Ms. RIGIMBAL said activities in 19 different countries in Latin America and the Caribbean had reached more than 2,100 national authorities, security sector agents, and young people, with the highest ever participation of females. Efforts included stockpile management and weapons destruction, with activities geared toward quantitatively measuring progress and advances made toward the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16. Initiatives with Colombia had included the provision of technical assistance to the United Nations Verification Mission in the surrendering of arms. Collaboration with the private sector was also key to ensuring sustainable security measures were adopted. Meanwhile, the bulk of efforts focused on developing and imparting specialized trainings to combat illicit arms trafficking and provide tools to strengthen conventional arms control. To use technology to its advantage, the regional centre created a new tool to facilitate the tracing of weapons trafficked through the postal system. That preventive tool would aid security sector personnel in their fight against illicit arms trafficking, she said.
Mr. KRYVONOS said 10 projects and three collaborative programmes were among a range of activities undertaken in Asia and the Pacific. The regional centre had also heavily engaged in the preparation for its relocation back to Nepal, which had concluded in February 2017. Other activities included co-organizing two conferences on issues and challenges facing disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation. With respect to national capacity-building, several projects assisted Member States to implement their commitments relating to conventional arms control, particularly regarding the Programme of Action on Small Arms, Arms Trade Treaty and the Security Council resolution 1540 (2004). The main outcome of the project implementation was the development, approval and submission of three national action plans by Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004). In addition, outreach activities engaged regional stakeholders. Thanks to support from sponsors, the centre had again managed to reach its highest annual project implementation rate.
The Chair of the Committee opened the floor to invite delegates to ask questions to the panellists; no questions were posed.
SIMON CLEOBURY (United Kingdom) emphasized his country’s commitment to promoting international stability frameworks for cyberspace based on the application of existing international law, agreed voluntary norms of responsible State behaviour and confidence-building measures, supported by coordinated capacity-building programmes. The United Nations Charter applied in its entirety to State actions in cyberspace, he said, adding that the law of State responsibility applied to cyberoperations in peacetime, including the availability of the doctrine of countermeasures in response to internationally wrongful acts. The United Kingdom would promote the operationalization of agreed norms of responsible State behaviour, focusing on practical measures States could take to put voluntary norms into practice, he said. It would also support efforts in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other forums to implement confidence-building measures that would contribute to transparency and trust between States in cyberspace.
MARJA LEHTO (Finland) expressed regret that the Group of Governmental Experts had failed to reach an agreement. International discussions on specific aspects of international law in relation to the use of information and communications technology should continue. The Group’s recommendations on responsible State behaviour constituted a practical contribution to clarifying the steps States should take in the information and communications technology domain to comply with their obligations to not knowingly allow their territories to be used for activities that might cause significant harm to other States. “It is necessary to be cybersmart in order to keep up with the changes of the global security environment”, she said, adding that developing resilience was essential worldwide and should be supported by appropriate capacity-building efforts. OSCE had adopted a set of dedicated confidence-building measures in the area, she noted, calling for its implementation.
MINNA–LIINA LIND (Estonia), associating herself with the European Union, said discussions on the Internet should afford the same attention to security as to the freedom of expression. She regretted that the Governmental Group for Experts had not achieved a consensus report in 2017 and could not make further progress in analysing how international law applied to the use of information and communications technology, particularly the principle of due diligence, the potential application of the right to self-defence and international humanitarian law. Estonia supported the establishment of a strategic framework for conflict prevention and stability in cyberspace that was based on international law, in particular the Charter of the United Nations.
ANAYANSI RODRIGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) said the international community should adopt tangible measures to ensure the resources spent on military costs were refocused to promote sustainable development. Member States should strictly comply with the environmental standards, with multilateralism being used in all disarmament negotiations. Strict compliance with the United Nations Charter and international law was the only effective means to safeguard international peace and security while establishing a legally binding regulatory framework applicable to information and communications technology. Denouncing the hostile use of those technologies for subverting legal and political orders of States, she said Cuba was constantly facing attacks from abroad as its communication spectrum had been targeted by the United States. She called for an immediate end to such aggressive policies that were incompatible with international peace and security.
MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) said safety and security were of the utmost importance as the intertwined foundations of a country’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear material. Transparent national efforts and strengthened regional cooperation in nuclear power production were critical. Detailing the international instruments her country had acceded to and the work it had done during its European presidency, she called the Environmental Impact Convention the sine qua non of absolute transparency. Underlining the centrality of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), she called upon all States to implement the Agency’s nuclear security guidance documents, to use its advisory services and to host peer review and follow-up missions. As current political developments had created a volatile environment, she called for additional precautions to be taken to enhance the safety of nuclear installations, noting that more and more countries in her region were expressing a strong interest in nuclear power even though such energy had not been an option for the national energy grid of Greece itself.
WANG QUN (China) said that maintaining a peaceful cyberspace was crucial and all should faithfully observe the purposes and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, particularly the principles of sovereignty and non-interference of internal affairs. Countries should discuss the application of international law in a manner conducive to maintaining peace so as to prevent an arms race in cyberspace and reduce the risk of conflict. Cooperation was a win‑win concept, he continued. No one country was immune from the threats of cyberspace and there was no such thing as absolute security. Countries should reject the cold war mentality and develop a new security concept featuring coordination and sustainability. The United Nations should play a leading role on the issue and discussion in the last Group of Governmental Experts had reflected the differences among the international community and further highlighted the need to build a broad consensus. An open, inclusive process that allowed more countries to participate in global Internet governance should be established, he said. At the same time, efforts should be made to assist developing countries with capacity‑building to bridge the digital divide.
LOUIS RIQUET (France) said existing international law, including the United Nations Charter, applied to cyberspace. Should a cyberattack constitute a threat to international peace and security, the case might be referred to the Security Council under Chapters VI or VII of the Charter. As a major cyberattack could constitute an armed attack under Article 51 of the Charter, States could invoke the right to legitimate self-defence in anticipation of a Security Council decision. He said that in order to guarantee international stability and security in cyberspace, it was essential to have one standard that encouraged the control of exports of offensive cybertools and techniques and another that aimed at preventing non-State actors, including private companies, from carrying out offensive activities in cyberspace on their own behalf and that of other State or non-State actors.
THOMAS FITSCHEN (Germany), associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that there were reservations as to whether certain aspect of traditional international law in response to a malicious cyberoperation were really applicable in “cyberspace”. If a State agent or someone else carried out a cyberoperation in another State to stop an electricity plan, that plan did not happen somewhere in cyberspace, but rather on the territory and in the jurisdiction of that country. Those relations were governed by international law, he said, adding that some delegations were reluctant to touch upon the lawful counter-measures in cyberoperations. According to international law, States could be held accountable. The issue of attributing a certain conduct to a State was not new, he said. Cyberoperations against territorial integrity of another State could in itself constitute use of force and thus be unlawful.
Ms. LINYAMA (Zambia) said that the increased use of information and communications technology had resulted in increased crimes, such as attacks on computer systems of institutions and terrorism-related activities. It had also allowed criminal and terrorist syndicates to cross barriers of States to commit crimes, making it difficult to identify the offenders and locate the crime scenes with traditional investigation tools. The Zambian Government was facing myriad challenges in fighting cybercrime and other criminal activities related to technology. It had taken various measures to combat cyber- and other technological crime, including through harnessing opportunities offered by information and communications technology for law enforcement, such as electronic surveillance. Investigation and prosecuting such crimes remained a challenge; it required new skills and procedural tools, including the capacity to collect and analyse digital evidence and to use that evidence in criminal proceedings. Noting the positive contributions of science and technology, he called for international cooperation in assisting the physical security and monitoring of nuclear facilities and materials.
VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation), recalling that his country had been the first to raise concerns about emerging threats in the global information space, had tabled a related draft resolution to the General Assembly. It was clear that such threats had become one of the most serious challenges to international peace and security. That was compounded by the fact that recent discussions on international information security had stalled. He was vigorously opposed to any attempts to unleash the information arms race, he said. Together with like-minded countries, his country had repeatedly suggested the that the Group of Governmental Experts develop and submit to the General Assembly universal rules in the information space. Instead, the Group’s discussion had been emasculated and side-lined for secondary aspects. Certain countries sought to impose unilateral rules that only served their own interests. Those rules were designed to ensure the chosen ones had a technological advantage and imposed a very dangerous decision to recognize the digital sphere as a theatre of military action. He expressed concerns at attempts to discredit the role of the United Nations in tackling cybersecurity. All Member States should participate in the discussion on an equal basis. To ensure sustainability in negotiations in international information security, the Russian Federation had introduced a draft procedural decision to keep the item “developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” on its agenda for the seventy-third session.
Mr. HAJNOCZI (Austria), associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, expressed regret that the Group of Governmental Experts had failed to agree on a consensus report this year. Nonetheless, its previous reports would continue to be the basis for efforts to strengthen stability and security in an open and peaceful Internet where human rights and fundamental freedoms were respected. Confidence-building measures could enhance trust and assurance among States and help reduce the risk of conflict, he said, noting that OSCE had undertaken significant work in that area in recent years. Outlining some of those efforts, he said that, under the Austrian chairmanship, OSCE had made rebuilding trust and confidence among its three top priorities for 2017. In February, his delegation had organized a conference on cybersecurity, and a second chairmanship conference would be held on 3 November in Vienna, offering an opportunity to discuss intensifying cooperation on several key areas. Calling for a steadfast commitment to applying existing international law to the cyber context, he added that the Budapest Convention was an important tool in combating the criminal use of information and communications technology.
ISAAC MORALES (Mexico) said that the international system had a fundamental role to play in cyberspace to make it “open, safe and accessible”. That should be enforced by regional and other multilateral forums. The efforts of the Organization’s international security system should achieve balance in encouraging access and peaceful use of cyberspace as a catalyst for development. Furthermore, the use of cyberspace as a safe place should be ensured by the private sector and Governments.
VANESSA WOOD (Australia) said the foundation for responsible State behaviour in cyberspace was a mutual commitment to existing international law, including respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The United Nations Charter could be applied in its entirety to State actions in cyberspace, including the prohibition of the use of force, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and the right of States to act in self-defence in response to an armed attack. To enable agile responses, existing international law was complemented by norms, as established through the Groups of Governmental Experts, among others, of responsible State behaviour, which promote predictability, stability and security. The international community must now ensure that there were effective and proportionate consequences for those who acted contrary to the consensus on norms.
Mr. AZADI (Iran), associating himself with the statement to be made by the Non-Aligned Movement, said information communication technology played a crucial role in socioeconomic and cultural development. There was a need to strengthen security and prevent the use of such technology for illegal purposes. National measures were not sufficient. Due to both the complex nature and rapid advances in the field, international cooperation was essential. While it was important there was a common understanding of issues, such an understanding could not adequately emerge through the work of the Group of Governmental Experts. In that regard, all States must be engaged in an inclusive, interactive debate in a broad-based setting. Establishing an open-ended working group was an appropriate method to help build upon the work and to discuss issues related to information communication security.
FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern about the potential misuse of information and communications technology to the detriment of international peace and security. While it was a key vehicle to further growth and development, normative behaviours and cooperation were needed to ensure information security. The work of the Group of Governmental Experts was useful, he said, adding he looked forward to it moving forward after its setback during its last session. He also voiced support for the draft decision tabled by the Russian Federation on the field’s developments in international security. With threats by terrorists using information and communications technology to compromise security and cause harm, there was a need to strengthen the existing legal regime pertinent to that domain and address the weakest links in the cybersphere. As well, he expressed support for the draft resolution tabled by India on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament, co-sponsored by his delegation.
ANGGI SAZIKA JENIE (Indonesia), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated her serious concern over the two decades delay in the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Recalling the opposition expressed by the United States, United Kingdom and Canada at the concluding session of the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East had not been achieved. She emphasised the special responsibility of the co-sponsors of that resolution for its implementation. Its persistent lack could undermine the effectiveness and credibility of the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a whole. The Non-Aligned Movement demanded that Israel renounce any possession of nuclear weapons and accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty without any precondition or delay.
MARWAN ALDOBHANY (Yemen), speaking for the Arab Group and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of agreements to establish nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. He emphasized the need to take effective and immediate measures as outlined by the Arab Group resolution addressing the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. He called upon the three co-sponsors of the Middle East resolution adopted in 1995 to bear the responsibility of the text’s implementation and establish that zone. The Arab States were concerned for the security and humanitarian and environmental impact due to Israel’s rejection to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. He underlined that the continued delay of the implementation of the 1995 resolution was a serious setback to global nuclear non-proliferation efforts.
LOIS M. YOUNG (Belize), speaking for CARICOM, said that bloc’s member States remained committed to confronting the illicit trade in firearms. They had benefitted from the memorandum of understanding between the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as from the implementation of the UNODC Regional Programme 2014‑16. The United Nations Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean was one of several important partners for the Community in implementing its arms control and non-proliferation obligations. That partnership had resulted in the successful implementation of the Operational Forensic Ballistic Project, she said, also highlighting six sub-regional training sessions completed in August on the topic of “double casting”, which increased national authorities’ capabilities to establish connections between crimes nationally, regionally and internationally.
She went on to emphasize CARICOM’s support for strengthening the role of women in disarmament, noting Trinidad and Tobago’s leadership of the biennial resolution titled “Women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control”. The Community was also committed to the CARICOM-Security Council Resolution 1540 Implementation Programme to prevent the transit, trans-shipment, import, export, re-export or brokering of dual-use materials that could be used in the development of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons and related materials. It had strengthened its partnership with the United Nations Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean in implementing various project activities related to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, recently launching a Guide on the Development of National Control Lists for the region. That had assisted CARICOM in reinforcing national export and import regulatory structures for dual use goods, she noted.
JUDIT KÖRÖMI, European Union delegation, said the illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea posed a grave threat to regional and international peace and security. That country should refrain from further reckless provocations and abandon its programmes. Addressing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, she emphasized the importance of its continued, full and effective implementation. Facilitated by the European Union, the Plan of Action was the result of 12 years of diplomatic effort. It had become a key element of the nuclear non-proliferation architecture and was crucial for the security of the region. She encouraged the United States to maintain its commitment to the Plan of Action and consider the implications for the security of the United States, its partners and the region before taking further steps.
She went on to say that, despite de-escalation efforts, this year had seen the highest number of civilian casualties in Syria. She condemned the indiscriminate attacks and atrocities perpetrated by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh) and other terrorist groups and the systematic violations of human rights by all parties, particularly the Syrian regime. The use of barrel bombs, cluster bombs and incendiary weapons in Syria might amount to war crimes. It was deeply shocking and deplorable that chemical weapons had been used in several cases in Syria. The findings of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission, the Joint Investigative Mechanism and the testimonies gathered by the Commission of Inquiry for Syria required strong action by the Security Council. At the same time, it was also deeply concerning that Syria had not engaged substantively regarding gaps and discrepancies in its chemical weapons declaration with the ongoing investigations of the OPCW Technical Secretariat.
DELFINA JANE ALOYSIUS DRIS (Malaysia), speaking for ASEAN, said she believed that the value of regionalism lay in its inclusivity, rules-based nature, with an emphasis on mutual benefit and respect. Transparency, confidence-building measures and progress in regional disarmament were indispensable in improving the security environment of the Asia-Pacific region, and in that connection, the Group reaffirmed its commitment to the disarmament treaties to which it was a signatory. The United Nations Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament had worked tirelessly to collaborate on various initiatives, she said, reiterating the commitment to preserving the region, not only as a nuclear-weapons-free zone, but a zone free of all other weapons of mass destruction as enshrined in the ASEAN Charter and the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone.
ASEAN continued to undertake various activities on nuclear safety, security and safeguards, including with respect to capacity building, she continued. The Group was also working towards the establishment of a formal relationship between the ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy and IAEA and was committed to the full operationalization of the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre Permanent Secretariat. Such developing concrete initiatives, building capacity and ensuring continuity through regional cooperation were crucial in making progress on global disarmament commitments.
ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) said regional approaches provided important avenues to disarmament, security and non-proliferation objectives. In East Asia, the regional architecture had steadily evolved in the face of growing threats from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. He reiterated President Donald Trump’s commitment to deny Iran all paths to nuclear weapons. The United States would work with its international partners to explore options for addressing the flaws in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme. In closing, he noted that South Asia was a home to two nuclear-weapon States and to the highest concentration of foreign terrorist groups in any region.
ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) denounced the use of force in international relations. Honouring commitments to transparency and accountability, Paraguay provided its military expenditure information. He called States to cooperate with the United Nations and supported the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development. Latin America and the Caribbean was a region free of nuclear weapons, he said, noting the valuable contributions of civil society in disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.
Right of Reply
The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the representative of Iran represented a regime that was one of the world’s biggest sponsors of terror and had committed atrocities against the people of Syria. As such, it was hard to see how he had any standing to make accusations against his country.
The representative of the United States said Iran supported terrorism and was complicit in the Assad regime’s crimes against its people, had threatened to wipe Israel off the map, had launched cyberattacks against the United States, had committed human rights abuses and continued its ballistic missile programme. The United States had sanctioned Iranian entities involved in the country’s ballistic missile programme and remained concerned about its military support for Houthis in Yemen.
The representative of Iran categorically rejected remarks made by his counterpart from Israel. Chronic threats plaguing the Middle East stemmed from the offensive and brutal practices of the Israeli regime. Israel was the only country in the region possessing nuclear weapons and facilities that were under no safeguards and had refused to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, blocking the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Israel was one of the world’s biggest military spenders in 2016 and was a huge beneficiary of aid from the United States. He called on Israel to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty for the sake of peace and stability in the region.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his country had suffered from natural disasters, including an unprecedented drought, which was why countries such as the United States had voluntarily sent it food. His delegation did not support the draft resolution presented by the United States on compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments because of its pure political purpose. Concerning his country’s nuclear deterrence policy, he said if the United States was afraid of such weapons, then it should get rid of all its nuclear bombs and enter the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State.
The representative of the United States said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been isolated and had lost billions of dollars because it was developing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes instead of taking care of its own people’s needs. Furthermore, he was not shocked by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s plan not to vote for United States compliance resolution.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected what the United States delegate had said.