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With ‘Dark Side of Innovation’ on Horizon, First Committee Delegates Call for Joint Action in Combating Cyberattacks

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.

Background

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.

Briefing

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.

Conventional Weapons

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.

Panel Discussion

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.

News

With ‘Dark Side of Innovation’ on Horizon, First Committee Delegates Call for Joint Action in Combating Cyberattacks

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.

Background

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.

Briefing

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.

Conventional Weapons

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.

Panel Discussion

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.

News

Speakers Critical of Criteria for Graduation to Middle-Income Status, as Second Committee Takes Up Globalization, Interdependence

Middle-income countries had initially reaped globalization’s benefits, but were now suffering from the so-called “megatrends” of labour market shifts, rapid technological advances and climate change, speakers said today as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) took up globalization and interdependence.

Countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) had witnessed globalization both as an impetus to growth and threat to survival, said the representative of Barbados, speaking on the group’s behalf.  Small island States contributed little to climate change but were most vulnerable to its impacts, as underscored by destruction wrought in recent hurricanes.  Making it difficult for CARICOM members to rebuild following a disaster was their inability to access concessional financing, he said, as many were middle-income countries.  It was “unthinkable” that States reduced to abject poverty within hours due to a hurricane were barred from accessing funding needed to rebuild, forcing them to borrow at market rates.

Similarly, the representative of Maldives said graduating from least developed status to middle-income had failed to protect it from exogenous shocks or equip the country with additional instruments to bounce back.  Graduation meant the country was no longer eligible for official development assistance (ODA), concessional financing or export markets.  Just six days after the General Assembly graduated the Maldives, in December 2004, the Indian Ocean Tsunami hit the country, he said.  The damage it caused after just a few minutes came to more than 62 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).  The short- and long-term financial and economic impact on the Maldives took years to recover.

El Salvador’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), also expressed concern over graduation criteria for countries eligible to receive ODA and trade benefits.  Those criteria, based on a skewed approach to development, which only used per capital income of countries to measure development, failed to reflect deep inequalities in his region.  He stressed the importance of implementing multidimensional methodologies Governments had agreed on to measure a country’s level of development and define adequate criteria to allocate ODA.  Those methodologies must go beyond per capita income in a balanced and integrated fashion, recognizing diverse needs and challenges of each country in CELAC.

Presenting the Secretary-General’s reports were Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Liu Zhenmin, on fulfilling the promise of globalization: advancing sustainable development in an interconnected world (document A/72/301); United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Director of Technology and Logistics, Shamika Sirimanne, on science, technology and innovation for development (document A/72/257); and Department of Economic and Social Affairs Senior Economic Affairs Officer, Dawn Holland, on development cooperation with middle-income countries (document A/72/329).

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) New York Liaison Office Director, Marie Paule Roudil, introduced the report of the UNESCO Director-General on culture and sustainable development (document A/72/336).

Also speaking were the representatives of Ecuador (for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Singapore (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Bangladesh (for the Group of Least Developed Countries), Armenia (for the Like-minded Group of Supporters of Middle-Income Countries), India, China, Philippines, Belarus, Cuba, Guatemala, South Africa, Chile, Namibia, Honduras, Iraq, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Botswana, Thailand, Rwanda, Nepal and Ukraine.  Representatives from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) as well as the Holy See also spoke.

During an afternoon session, the Second Committee took up information and communications technologies (ICT) for development, with speakers highlighting the continuing digital divide and need for international investment in capacity‑building and improved Internet access, especially in developing countries.

Noting that more than half the world’s population was still offline, Ms. Sirimanne, said 84 per cent of the population had Internet connectivity in Europe, as opposed to only 18 per cent in Africa.  Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society at the regional and international levels (document A/72/64), she added that International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates had shown that women were 12 per cent less likely to use the Internet globally, compared to 25 per cent in Africa.

Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, Ecuador’s delegate emphasized the need to bridge the digital divide between countries as well as between men and women.  There were 90 mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 people in developed countries as compared to 41 in developing countries and less than 20 in the least developed States.  Such figures were cause for concern, he added, calling for international cooperation in improving affordability, capacity-building, multilingualism, investment and appropriate financing.

The representative of India said ICT had tremendous power to change lives, while noting that the digital divide could expand existing inequalities.  His country was implementing a range of programmes focused on empowering vulnerable sections of the population and those living in remote areas.  E-services on offer included tele-education, tele-medicine and agricultural information services that provided crop prices, weather forecasts and new farming techniques.

Also speaking were the representatives of Thailand (for ASEAN), Trinidad and Tobago (for CARICOM), Bangladesh (for the Group of Least Developed Countries), Maldives (for the Alliance of Small Island States), Philippines, Singapore, Iran, Cuba, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Kenya, Nepal, China, Togo, Brazil, Mexico, Bahrain, Vanuatu, South Africa, Russian Federation, Nigeria and Ethiopia.  Representative of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) also spoke.

The Committee will meet again on Monday, 16 October, at 10 a.m. to take up agriculture development, food security and nutrition.

Introduction of Reports

LIU ZHENMIN, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on fulfilling the promise of globalization: advancing sustainable development in an interconnected world (document A/72/301).  He noted that globalization had exerted a significant influence on global wealth and sustainable development, but came with challenges and risks, often caused by imbalances in the distribution of benefits and costs.  To ensure that globalization supported inclusive economic growth, it was essential to analyse the current system as well as emerging trends to devise policy solutions addressing them.  Three large and sustained global shifts with wide impact and the power to shape the future — so-called “megatrends” — were impacting globalization.  First, global shifts in production had spurred deep changes in labour markets in both developed and developing countries.  Second, the rapid advance of technological change had made knowledge and information exchange using information and communications technology (ICT) and networks increasingly important.  Finally, a growing body of evidence pointed to globalization as a contributing factor to climate change and environmental degradation.

SHAMIKA SIRIMANNE, Director of the Technology and Logistics Division, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), introduced the Secretary-General’s report on science, technology and innovation for development (document A/72/257).  She said the report analysed the technological megatrends of the fourth industrial revolution and illustrated the benefits, such as enhanced early warning systems, big data to monitor disease outbreaks, improvements to farming conditions, artificial intelligence (AI) for diagnosing cancer, mobile payment systems to improve financial services and more.  Despite those benefits, she cautioned that technology could exacerbate existing economic and social divides, particularly in the labour and employment sectors.  The Commission on Science and Technology for Development examined how science, technology and innovation could achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including through food security and smart cities.  Throughout multi-stakeholder consultations, States agreed that greater assessment would be necessary to evaluate the development potential of new and emerging technology.  UNCTAD would continue that work while addressing concerns about the gender dimension of development, financing for innovation, and regional and international cooperation.  She highlighted collaboration with China in furthering training and seminars for innovative technologies, and encouraged other States to join in similar efforts.  Capacity-building would be essential in supporting the deployment of technology and innovation.  To that end, the Conference would continue to develop a broadened framework of policy reviews that integrated the Sustainable Development Goals into science, technology and innovation policymaking and implementation.

MARIE PAULE ROUDIL, Director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Liaison Office in New York, introduced the report of the UNESCO Director-General on culture and sustainable development (document A/72/336).  She stressed that the international community could not achieve its goals of sustainable cities, quality education, economic growth, sustainable consumption and production as well as environmental sustainability and inclusive, peaceful societies without integrating culture into development policies.  Cultural and creative industries were among the most dynamic sectors in the world economy, generating $2.25 billion in revenue and 29.5 million jobs worldwide.  Member States had invested in the field, embraced the potential of digital technologies and forged new partnerships with United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), high-level experts, academia, the private sector and civil society.  Safeguarding cultural heritage and promoting the diversity of cultural expression, while fostering values and behaviours reflecting non-violence and building tolerance played an instrumental role in the social cohesion of societies and peacebuilding.

DAWN HOLLAND, Senior Economic Affairs Officer in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), introduced the Secretary-General’s report on development cooperation with middle-income countries (document A/72/329).  Noting that those countries faced significant challenges to development, including high inequality, issues relating to the environment and consequences from climate change, she said national efforts should be enhanced through improved and more focused cooperation.  Economic growth in those States slowed noticeably since 2011 and many may be caught in a “middle-income trap” resulting in a protracted period of subdued growth rates.  Public debt increased from 2015 to 2017 as stagnating or contracting output in major economies and lower commodity revenues led to higher fiscal deficits.  Since the global financial crisis, there had been a decline in labour productivity growth, which undermined national efforts for sustainable development.  If that trend continued, 6.5 per cent of the world’s population would still live in extreme poverty by 2030.  Policy options to address those challenges included more proactive fiscal policy measures, strategies to diversify production, support to innovation and improved trade and foreign direct investment (FDI).  Country classifications based solely on per capita income, she continued, did not effectively reflect the complex nature of development challenges, thus comprehensive strategies should refer to a broader set of multidimensional measures of economic, social and environmental progress.  Adequate provision of development finance would also remain crucial.

Questions and Answers

The representative of Nigeria asked whether mechanisms were in place to ensure that the benefits of globalization were more evenly distributed, so that economic growth could be translated into lifting households out of poverty.  He also questioned how the United Nations system was prepared to help developing countries catch up with rapid technological development and effectively use science and technology to improve employment, trade and sustainable development.  In addition, he asked what strategies were put in place to improve their capacities in monitoring progress of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

A representative of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs said the 2030 Agenda itself noted that many issues of development were related to globalization, science and technology.  Benefits from those areas began at the national level by putting in place appropriate policy and legal frameworks.  The United Nations was actively involved in that process, engaging with Governments to develop them.  Globally, there was increased recognition that a more sustained dialogue on globalization’s benefits as driven by science and technology was needed.

Ms. SIRIMANNE added that the United Nations was engaged in policy discussions with Governments, in both developed and developing countries.  Sustainable development ministries were involved, but they tended to be lower down and such discussions could not occur in isolation.  Discussions were focused on science and technology as well as education to prepare for emerging technology.

Ms. ROUDIL, noting that engineering and science were part of the UNESCO mandate, said engineering was becoming a top priority.  Her organization had launched a specific initiative to support development of education in engineering, especially for women and girls at both secondary and higher levels of education.

Statements

HENRY JONATHAN VIERA SALAZAR (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the 2015 intergovernmental agreements had laid the frameworks for engaging on economic, social and environmental issues in a balanced, equitable and sustainable manner.  “This is not the time to question what was agreed but time for implementation”, he said.  The fast pace of globalization had been facilitated by the rapid developments in ICT.  Technology transfer and diffusion on concessional and preferential terms from developed countries were needed to address the adverse impacts of climate change and development of developing countries.  Those issues could be addressed with coordinated and coherent action at the global level, he said, mentioning the 2030 Agenda in that regard. 

He said the United Nations was the only global body to strengthen international cooperation for promoting development in the context of globalization and for the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals.  The Organization should promote greater coordination with relevant international financial and economic institutions to ensure coherence with the United Nations development agenda.  He reiterated the urgent need to ensure that the diverse development needs of middle-income countries were appropriately addressed, as 73 per cent of the world’s poor lived in those States.  To cope with inequality at the country level, he said there was a need to put job creation at the centre of economic policies.

JOSEPH TEO CHOON HENG (Singapore) spoke on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and aligned himself with the Group of 77.  He expressed concern that isolationist and protectionist voices were gaining force, while noting that complex global challenges, such as terrorism, cybersecurity, pandemics and climate change required global solutions.  Multilateralism was critical in addressing those threats, he stated.  His region’s commitment to community-building processes was demonstrated in economic, political-security and sociocultural areas.  Efforts were undertaken to cooperate with external partners on the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025.  The United Nations, together with international organizations, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), must ensure that the global economic framework remained conducive for sustained and inclusive economic growth, particularly in developing countries.  In that regard, he said ASEAN valued continued partnerships to secure conditions for peaceful and sustainable economic development.  The ASEAN-United Nations Plan of Action for 2016‑2020 and the annual regional dialogue would prove to be important platforms for exchanging insights and best practices.  He also welcomed the support of the Organization in efforts to narrow the development gap.

SHANCHITA HAQUE (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating herself with the Group of 77, said there were significant science, technology and innovation gaps between the least developed nations and the rest of the world.  Noting inequalities in patent filing and the number of scientific articles published by the least developed countries, she highlighted obstacles related to limited data and low spending on research and technology.  She said those countries were isolated from global research networks and lacked the technical expertise and skills necessary to contribute in research and development initiatives, which were often contingent on the availability of and access to technology.

Stressing that technology could contribute to sustainable development, including the eradication of poverty, she recalled efforts by States to contribute to the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries.  She urged other States and donors to contribute to that fund, and to enhance public investment in research and development while improving coordination at all levels.  In that regard, she called for greater public‑private partnerships and support from the international community, particularly through a robust framework for technology transfer, knowledge sharing and official development assistance (ODA).

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said technology transfer, capacity-building and dissemination of innovations and knowledge were important drivers of development and economic growth, which could significantly reduce the existing technology gap between and within countries.  However, he expressed concern with the current graduation criteria for the list of countries eligible to receive ODA and trade benefits applied by various international organizations. Those criteria, based on a skewed approach to development, which only used per capital income of countries to measure development, did not reflect the integrated character of sustainable development or existing deep inequalities in his region.

ODA was still required in the CELAC region to reduce inequality and structural gaps as well as generate and strengthen its capacity to achieve sustainable development, he said.  In that regard, he called for developed countries to fulfil their commitment to allocate 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) to ODA and for international organizations to address the diverse and specific development needs of CELAC countries.  He stressed the need and importance of implementing multidimensional methodologies agreed on between Governments to measure a country’s level of development and define adequate criteria to allocate ODA.  Those methodologies must go beyond per capita income in a balanced and integrated fashion, recognizing diverse needs and challenges of each and every country in Latin America and the Caribbean.

MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia), speaking on behalf of the Like-minded Group of Supporters of Middle-Income Countries, said his Group had adopted a ministerial declaration regarding the unique challenges faced by middle-income nations and said the classification of developing States should be redefined.  Advancing towards criteria that went beyond per capita income was key to understanding the challenges that such countries faced.  He said a whole category of States were left behind from coordinated assistance and urged that the United Nations elaborate a comprehensive strategy aimed at facilitating sustainable development with those countries.  He called for an open dialogue for innovative approaches that encouraged “graduation” policies which were sequenced, phased, and gradual and resulted in tailored solutions.  In that regard, he welcomed the call to build on the experience of the Committee for Development Policy, but expressed concern that access to concessional finance reduced countries’ income growth. 

He stressed the importance of addressing structural gaps and stated that improvements in macroeconomic indicators did not reflect an improvement in efforts to eradicate poverty, given that inequality remained pervasive in countries with high economic growth.  Targeted and differentiated strategies in cooperation for development were needed and he called for assistance to overcome the effects of climate change.  The quadrennial comprehensive policy review would present an opportunity to transform the development system and build capacity to address development challenges of middle-income countries.  The needs of those countries must be addressed in a comprehensive manner, including through enhanced technological assistance.

KEITH HAMILTON LLEWELLYN MARSHALL (Barbados) spoke on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associated himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States.  He said CARICOM members experienced in varying degrees the impact of globalization: both impetus to growth and challenges to their very survival.  The “megatrends” disproportionally affected small island developing States and underscored the need for restructuring the mode of interaction of the international community with those vulnerable States.  The destruction wrought by recent hurricanes underscored that small island States contributed little to climate change but were most vulnerable to its impacts.  Now was not the time to renege on commitments made in the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, but to redouble efforts to prevent further degradation of the environment.

RENUKA CHOWDHURY (India) said the rising power of digital technologies and social media was transforming the way Governments and businesses worked.  The global economic and financial integration had, on occasion, led to dramatic collapses.  Emerging areas such as cybersecurity and global geospatial information management had cross-cutting impacts.  More, not less, effective multilateralism was needed, therefore, to manage opportunities and challenges faced collectively.  The realization of the interdependence and the collective nature of peace, prosperity and security for all had been reflected in the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.  Their implementation would lead to a better future for all.  India continued to play its part in strengthening the multilateral successes on addressing climate change and meeting sustainable development challenges, including through South-South cooperation.

TANG TIANXI (China) said globalization had promoted an increased flow of goods and economic growth, but had also produced governance dilemmas and inequalities.  Countries should strengthen cooperation in response to globalization’s challenges in producing more balanced results.  They must also embrace innovative concepts for development, promote structural reform and create new jobs.  The international community should remain an open world economy through interconnectivity and investments in trade, opposing all forms of protectionism.  It was necessary to reform international trade rules, with each country enjoying equal rights and opportunities.  Emerging markets in developing countries should have increased representation and a stronger voice in the international trading system.  China had benefited from globalization, as evidenced by its rapid economic growth.  Looking ahead, the country was willing to work with all parties in bringing in a new industrial and digital revolution.

MARIA ANGELA PONCE (Philippines), associating herself with ASEAN, the Like-minded Group of Supporters of Middle-Income Countries and the Group of 77, said her nation was among the 109 middle-income States with specific challenges and diversified income, growth drivers and governance structures.  While the Philippines had achieved high growth, poverty and inequality were also high, and underemployment was a problem.  In supporting recognition of a middle-income countries category within the United Nations, “we do not seek to take away resources from other groups of countries”, she said, but rather sought to create positive synergies for developing States.  Recognizing the low level of innovation in the Philippines, the national development plan increased science, technology and innovation use in agriculture, industry and services, and also ensured that culture was built into policy formulation.

TAMARA KHARASHUN (Belarus), associating herself with the Like-minded Group of Supporters of Middle-Income Countries, said the problems facing those States could only be solved through the exchange of best practices, strengthened coordination and targeted support from the development system.  So far, work on addressing the needs of middle-income States was ad hoc and lacked a unified approach to provide comprehensive support, which differed from others categories of developing countries.  She highlighted the outcomes of a ministerial meeting on that issue, and expressed hope that a resolution would be adopted to outline a long-term strategy of support to middle-income countries.  That resolution, she continued, should address the classification of States, as income alone would not adequately reflect the needs of middle-income countries.  The World Bank’s criteria for loan allocation often showed a “rosy picture” which did not reflect reality.  In response to those challenges, she called for improved indicators on economic and social progress.

JUAN MIGUEL GONZÁLEZ PEÑA (Cuba), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CARICOM, said a transparent, open, non-discriminatory and inclusive multilateral system, maximizing benefits of globalization while minimizing its costs, was imperative for implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Globalization under neoliberal precepts, however, exacerbated existing inequalities and the North‑South development gap continued to grow.  Underscoring the need for a New International Economic Order, he advocated a multidimensional, more comprehensive and complete methodology for classifying the level of development, particularly for middle‑income countries.  That methodology should go beyond gross national product (GNP) and levels of per capita income while considering their characteristics and special challenges.  While struggling under the criminal blockade by the United States, his country had shown important achievement in development, he said.

DAVID MULET LIND (Guatemala) associated himself with the Group of 77, CELAC and the Like-minded Group of Supporters of Middle-Income Countries.  He said the criteria and categorization of States based on per capita income and economic growth did reflect the challenges faced by middle-income countries.  In that regard, he called for greater support to the multidimensional measurement for poverty and development.  One-third of global gross domestic product (GDP) and 73 per cent of people living in poverty worldwide were living in those countries, he stated.  Thus, the international community must create a more fair and accountable development system.  He stressed the urgency of such work, and called for increased action to reform the international system.  To that end, he would welcome a resolution for middle-income countries.

Ms. RABOHALE (South Africa) said existing levels of inequality were not only morally unacceptable but economically, politically and socially detrimental.  There was a growing debate about whether globalization and new technologies had exacerbated or improved the situation, especially in developing countries.  She expressed concern about dwindling international cooperation in supporting developing States which depended on developed countries honouring their global commitments.  A prominent feature of globalization was science, technology and innovation, but greater strides were needed to bridge the technological gap between the global North and South.  She called for the international community to promote the development, transfer, dissemination and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries on favourable terms.  Globalization had allowed for significant economic growth for many countries and had lifted millions out of poverty, but had simultaneously contributed to immense inequality between and among States.  That was particularly relevant for so-called “middle-income countries”, where the majority of the world’s poor now resided.

PATRICIO AGUIRRE VACCHIERI (Chile), associating himself with Group of 77, CELAC and the Like-minded Group of Supporters of Middle-Income Countries, called for an adjustment of the classification of countries based solely on per capita income, as it was contradictory with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda.  A solely economic approach without other dimensions of development would not allow for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, he stated.  Graduation from classifications should not be taken solely by the crossing of an income line without considering other variables.  He expressed support to the draft resolution on middle-income countries, and said the text would have a clear mandate with multidimensional criteria to support all Member States.  He expressed hope that the United Nations development system would enhance monitoring for countries that had moved to higher levels of development, and called on the donor community to enhance focus and support.

ELTON KHOETAGE HOESEB (Namibia) said his country had benefited from globalization and positive growth over many years, but was also heavily affected by the global economic slowdown and supposedly low growth in large neighbouring economies.  Externally, it had to contend with the impact of the commodity price crash.  Simultaneously, climate change brought severe drought over the past three years, affecting the agricultural sector as well as wet industries and the construction supply chain.  Liquidity came under pressure due to weak market confidence and consequently a tight cash flow situation.  He cautioned against the arbitrary classification of countries based on income alone, which was the current approach developed by international financial institutions and adopted by the United Nations.  That had caused Namibia, like other upper middle-income nations, to be unfairly deprived of access to concessional funding essential for development.

YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras) associated herself with the Group of 77, CELAC and the Like-minded Group of Supporters of Middle-Income Countries.  Stressing that reduction or elimination of poverty was a global strategic imperative, she called for a multidimensional approach to address those challenges.  The classification of countries based on income or GDP per capita differed with the complex economic and social reality, she said.  The current classification by income did not allow for the necessary priorities or resources for development, and incorrectly presupposed that middle-income countries overcame levels of poverty and inequality.  Thus, she urged for criteria that looked beyond income and addressed the special needs of individual countries.  Efforts should include open dialogue on innovative approaches to the graduation policy which should be set sequentially and gradually.  To that end, she welcomed efforts to adopt a resolution which would address the needs of middle-income countries.

Mr. SAFAH (Iraq), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the dangerous aggression from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) led to the destruction of building his country’s capacity, and that the country further suffered from decreased oil prices.  Science, technology and innovation could play a crucial role in development and allowed countries to gain capacity from innovations in economic, social and environmental areas and technology transfer.  He noted the importance of UNESCO and highlighted a 2005 agreement on cultural diversification to which his country acceded.  He said that the international community did not address the difference between development and cultural polices at the international level.  Noting that ISIL had destroyed a 1,000‑year‑old civilization in Iraq, he commended the support given by the General Assembly and called on the international community to provide greater development assistance to rebuild his country’s infrastructure and protect its cultural heritage.  To that end, he urged all countries who were party to UNESCO to honour their commitments, and enhance efforts to prevent conflict and combat terrorism.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the middle-income category was a paradox, with some of the largest and most diversified economies in the world and some of the smallest in terms of GDP, relying on just one or two industries.  The Maldives was among the first to graduate from least developed status to middle-income, but that did not protect it from exogenous shocks or equip the country with any additional instruments to bounce back from them.  When a small island State, with a small and extremely dependent economy, with just one or two industries was graduated from least developed countries category, the country became more vulnerable.  That was because with graduation the country was no longer eligible for ODA and had no access to concessional financing or export markets.  Those challenges made newly graduated small economies more vulnerable than they were in the least developed category.  Just six days after the General Assembly graduated the Maldives in December 2004, the Indian Ocean Tsunami hit the country.  The damage it caused in just a few minutes was more than 62 per cent of the country’s GDP.  The short- and long-term financial and economic impact on the Maldives took several years to recover, which was what a natural hazard would do to a small economy.

ROLANDO CASTRO CORDOBA (Costa Rica) associated himself with the Group of 77, CELAC and the Like-minded Group of Supporters of Middle-Income Countries.  He said the international community must revisit criteria for the reclassification of countries and their access to resources.  Sustainable development reports, analyses of structural gaps and the global poverty index were all important in that regard, but greater efforts would be needed to create adequate indicators and evaluate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.  He said the international community must recognize the complex realities of different countries, and called for open dialogues on the innovative and multidimensional approaches for development.  He said that broadening the international community’s vision would entail creating more focused and efficient solutions that addressed the specific needs of each country.  He also noted the challenges presented by climate change and natural hazards, stating that the international community must be prepared to address new and emerging challenges.  He urged for greater international cooperation in strengthening the multidimensional vision for development in relation to the reform efforts of the Secretary-General.  He also stressed the importance of fostering global partnerships, transferring technology and knowledge, broadening access to ODA and data sharing.

LEULESEGED TADESE ABEBE (Ethiopia) noted that globalization had contributed to global poverty reduction and economic growth, but its benefits had clearly not been shared by all.  Hence, popular discontent, driven by rising inequality and loss of jobs, had brought an enormous stress on multilateralism and governance institutions.  In making globalization deliver for all, the United Nations had a critical role in supporting countries to better cope with its risks and in assisting States and other stakeholders find global solutions respecting national diversity.  National efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda should be complemented by a fair and development-friendly international economic and financial architecture, giving more voice to developing countries.  International cooperation was also essential in addressing the widening technological divide through technology transfer and capacity-building to support efforts of developing countries.

TLHALEFO BATSILE MADISA (Botswana), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that as 73 per cent of the world’s poorest and 70 per cent of the world’s population lived in middle-income countries, they deserved special consideration.  Such countries faced a mammoth task in sustaining the gains from previous decades against the rising costs of living, food and energy and decline in commodity prices, among other things.  Many had experienced economic deceleration or even recession in recent years.  United Nations development cooperation with middle-income countries should therefore be strengthened, he said, subscribing to the notion that country classification based on per capita income criteria was deficient.

PUNNAPA PARDUNGYOTEE (Thailand) said globalization had brought numerous benefits and opportunities, with countries becoming more interconnected, economies prospering and new technologies and innovations being introduced.  However, it had also resulted in numerous challenges, such as an imbalanced distribution of wealth, socioeconomic inequality and more challenging employment opportunities due to the production and labour market shift, rapidly changing technological advancement and digital divides as well as climate change.  Middle-income countries had benefited from globalization, but now faced socioeconomic inequalities undermining the possibility of achieving long-term sustainable and inclusive growth.  To break away from the middle-income trap, they needed to keep up with more developed economies in competing in the high value-added market.  At the national level, efforts must be put in place to address inequality and bridge physical and digital divides, providing equal access to knowledge as well as employment and income-earning opportunities.

Ms. BAKURAMUTSA (Rwanda), associating herself with the Group of 77, said she recognized globalization as impactful in permitting developed and developing countries to harness beneficial collaborations and create higher standards of living for all.  Her country promoted a long-lasting strategic vision for economic development through regional cooperation and trade with a conducive system of policies and incentives for investment.  Greater equitable economic integration for developing countries and increased trade and cross-border capital flows would help mitigate the risks of globalization.  Culture could be an enabler and driver of economic, social and environmental dimensions for sustainable development.  She said that in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, Rwanda had focused on reconciliation and the building of a unified nation.  Her country established a community court system called “gacaca” which brought about restorative justice and reconciliation at the grassroots level.  Her country also promoted “umuganda” to nurture a shared national identity through public community work, such as infrastructure development and environmental protection.

BHARAT RAJ PAUDYAL (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said globalization had improved economic and living conditions in both developed and developing States.  However, distribution of its benefits had been uneven, with inequalities widening and technological advancement asymmetrical.  Technology had thrown the uneducated and technologically illiterate into irrelevance, as they failed to fit into economies.  Countries in special situations, such as least developed countries, were vulnerable to economic shocks triggered by globalization.  They were also at the brunt of global problems like climate change, terrorism and transnational crime.  Connectivity of roads and other transport were critical for least developed countries that were landlocked or islands.  A fair and level playing field was needed in trade and better financing solutions as well as technology transfer were needed to make globalization work for all.

The representative of Ukraine, noting that his country was a proud provider of global innovations and well-educated experts in a number of critical fields, highlighted the Ukrainian science park experts whose work had led to innovations in water, energy and cyber technologies and solutions for countries of the global South and least developed countries in Africa.  To that end, he expressed support to the Secretary-General’s report on technological capabilities to accelerate the means of education and training.  Similarly, he encouraged greater international efforts to support education through scientific scholarships, training courses, and research and development grants.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said the benefits of globalization were mostly concentrated in developed countries and in wealthier regions.  International economic interdependence was strengthened by globalization and was affected by climate change.  He expressed concern that a “globalization of indifference” negatively affected those who had been excluded from the global economic system, including the poor and marginalized, migrants and refugees.  That trend also extended to those affected by environmental degradation.  He said the international community must work interdependently with an attitude of solidarity to build pathways for responsible cooperation.  “Technological progress and international solidary can indeed reduce the negative impacts of globalization, but without a change of heart, without a new attitude towards our common home and our fellow dwellers in that home, the hope for integral human development for all will remain just a dream rather than reality,” he said.

AMBER BARTH, International Labour Organization (ILO), pointed to the perception that globalization had not realized its potential and had even deepened inequalities.  Part of the globalization backlash was explained by labour markets, where fear reigned that migrants would take over existing jobs.  Considering technology’s reorganization of the labour market, one of the challenges would be to reduce income inequality.  Stagnant real wages and declining wage share had social and economic causes.  Disparity between real wages meant many families were not receiving their fair share.  In fixing globalization, the international community must develop more sustainable growth policies to ensure the employment market met the expectations of working people in attaining decent jobs.  The ILO would work with partners in the United Nations and Member States to ensure fairness for all.

HIROKO MURAKI GOTTLIEB, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), highlighted global shifts in production markets, rapid technological change and climate change.  She expressed support to various global agreements as enablers for solving global challenges, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which provided a platform for technology, science and innovation.  She also highlighted the importance of the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement in furthering climate finance, technology transfer and capacity-building for sustainable development.  Noting other examples of events and initiatives that supported science, technology and innovation, she expressed her organization’s continued commitment to fulfil the promise of globalization through multi‑stakeholder engagement.

Introduction of Reports

Ms. SIRIMANNE introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society at the regional and international levels (document A/72/64).  She said the report addressed trends in access to ICT, as well as the digital divide, the impact of new and emerging technologies and recent governance developments.  Gaps between countries persisted, despite technological advancements.  Those gaps were apparent in higher broadcast speeds and lower costs of technology in developed States than in developing countries.  Estimates from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) demonstrated that more than half of the world’s population was still offline.  In Europe, 84 per cent of the population had Internet connection, as opposed to only 18 per cent in Africa.  Women were 12 per cent less likely to use the Internet globally, as opposed to 25 per cent in Africa.  Similar digital divides could be seen across youth, rural and urban areas.  In response, she said investment would be critical; however, the international community must also strengthen governance and access to the benefits.  In regards to e-commerce, she said that significant progress was made, particularly in helping businesses and small entrepreneurial ventures connect with global markets.  The rapid pace of change would bring uncertainty and risk to labour and employment markets, she continued.  In response to such risks, UNCTAD recently launched rapid assessments of e-commerce readiness which evaluated the preparedness of developing and least developed countries.  UNCTAD also launched an “e-trade for all” initiative to improve the ability of least developed countries to use and benefit from e-commerce.  In that regard, she called upon the international community to expand support to the digital economy and invited countries to collaborate around the benefits and costs of digitalization.

Interactive Discussion

The representative of Nigeria, noting the disparities between the developed world and Africa, asked for greater clarity on ICT access and affordability, as well as information on the existing gender divide.  In response, Ms. SIRIMANNE reiterated that the gender divide was widening. Despite concerns, she noted that good practices could be seen Africa, especially in terms of small- and medium‑sized enterprises engaged in e-commerce, many of which were run by women.  She encouraged States to learn from those experiences and the report in order to upscale those experiences across the continent.  Regarding access and affordability, she reiterated that massive investments would be necessary in connectivity and other forms of gaps, such as skills and capacity-building and in legal and regulatory environments.

The representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, emphasized the need to bridge digital divides between countries, as well as between men and women.  There were 90 mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 people in developed countries as compared with 41 in developing countries and less than 20 in the least developed States.  Such figures were cause for concern given the rapid pace of technological advancements, he said, calling for enabling policy environments, and international cooperation in improving affordability, capacity-building, multilingualism, investment, and appropriate financing. 

Calling for the full and effective implementation of the outcomes of the Geneva and Tunis phases of the World Summit on the Information Society, he added that in an increasingly interdependent world, it was important to strengthen representation and participation from developing countries in Internet governance.  Underscoring the importance of ensuring that the use of technologies should be fully compatible with the purposes and principles of the United Nations charter, he added that the Technology Bank had the potential to foster productive capacity, structural transformation and sustainable development.

NONTAWAT CHANDRTRI (Thailand) spoke on behalf of ASEAN and aligned himself with the Group of 77.   He noted that both the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda underscored the pivotal role of ICT, which constituted one of the most important means of implementation.  Such technologies had profound impacts on accelerating socioeconomic development, strengthening connectivity within the bloc as well as with the global community.  In particular, they represented a key driver of the economic and social transformation of ASEAN, expediting economic growth and enabling better integration with the world market.  Guided by the ASEAN Information and Communications Technology Masterplan, the bloc was currently transforming into a digital economy.  The current Masterplan was aimed at adopting and embedding such technology in all sectors of the economy and fostering growth and innovation.  Alongside hardware, software and network upgrades, it focused on connecting every individual and community regardless of location, facilitating faster access to services and creating new and better ways of doing business.  However, he noted the persistence of the digital divide within the region.  On growing cyberthreats in the region, he said some steps the bloc had taken towards the goal of a safe and secure cyberspace included the inaugural ASEAN Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity and a workshop on strengthening and enhancing cybersecurity regional cooperation.

PENNELOPE ALTHEA BECKLES (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking for CARICOM, and associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said small island developing States faced many challenges.  Those included limited resources, dependence on external markets and fragile natural environments.  Accelerated technological change, combined with competitive pressures of globalization, had expanded the digital divide between the global North and South.  Underscoring the relevance of the 2030 Agenda principle, “leave no one behind”, she said the Caribbean Community had increased its focus on information and communications technologies.

The work of the “Caribbean Single ICT Space” aimed to enhance the attractiveness of the regional environment for investment and provide fertile ground for digital production, commerce, entrepreneurship and innovation, she said, adding that “the 2030 Agenda requires the transfer of technology, resources, investment to developing countries, including small island developing States”.  The Community was mindful that the dynamism within the ICT sector had brought about new security and rights-based challenges, including on cybersecurity and Internet governance.   “We live in an interesting and dynamic age, full of countless opportunities,” she noted. 

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) spoke on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and aligned himself with the Group of 77.  He said most of the least connected nations were those in his Group, with fewer than one in 10 people connected to the Internet.  The cost of connection in relation to average household income was also higher in his Group than in other countries.  To harness maximum benefits from ICT, he recommended, among other things, that policies to ensure ICT services, including broadband technologies, needed to be coupled with modern infrastructure and service delivery systems and that the full participation of women needed to be ensured.  A more robust international cooperation was required for least developed countries to address the challenges they faced, including through South-South and triangular cooperation.

The representative of Maldives, speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States, said that for small island States, the deployment of ICTs represented an unprecedented opportunity to address long-standing challenges, including in the area of disaster risk management.  In that context, fresh data and statistics were essential.  He therefore called for enhanced support and technical assistance from the international community in strengthening data collection and analysis.

Small island developing States also required help to leverage the use of ICTs in the area of financial services, he said.  In general, their citizens had very low access to such services due to such geography, isolation, dispersed populations, a high level of poverty and extremely high transaction costs, to name a few.  Linking financial services with communication technologies could bring such critical services to rural populations.

SWAPAN DASGUPTA (India) said that while ICTs had tremendous power to change lives, a digital divide could expand existing inequalities.  In India, the Government was implementing a range of programmes involving ICTs, including its Digital India programme that focused on empowering vulnerable sections of the population and those living in remote areas.  E-services included tele‑education, tele-medicine and agricultural information services that provided crop prices, weather forecasts and new farming techniques.  India’s deployment of ICTs to push financial inclusion was a success, with more than 300 million new bank accounts opened for vulnerable sections.  In addition, India continued to work with other developing countries in facilitating capacity-building in the use of ICTs for development.

Ms. PONCE (Philippines), associating herself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, said that while her country had increased its ICT infrastructure and service coverage, it continued to fall behind its peers in terms of the affordability and speed of Internet access.  It was clear that faster and cheaper Internet was required, she said.  The newly-created Department of Information and Communications was developing a national broadband plan that would address gaps in the broadband environment.  It would also lay down approaches to engage stakeholders to bring out universal broadband access in the Philippines.

GUO WEIMIN (Singapore), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Alliance of Small Island States and ASEAN, noted that as digitalization continued to transform the very nature of work, it also posed both challenges and opportunities for achieving Goal 8 on decent jobs and economic growth.  To shape positive change, Governments must take an active role in establishing an enabling environment to prepare business and workers to prosper.   Setting rules that gave incumbent players a fair chance to adapt and compete was one means, as Singapore had done in regard to the new point-to-point transport industry.  Governments should also help workers acquire the skills they need, along the lines of his country’s “Skills Future” programme.  In addition, Governments should help businesses evolve, with initiatives like his country’s “SMEs Go Digital Programme”.  Becoming a “smart nation” involved not just adopting more advanced or complex technology, but using technology to solve society’s problems and making people’s lives better, he stressed.

The representative of Iran, associating himself with the Group of 77, said that many developing countries lacked affordable access to ICTs.  The international community should support developing countries’ efforts for harnessing technology to bridge the digital divide.  He called for enabling policy environments at all levels, including improved affordability, education, capacity-building and technology transfer through international cooperation.  Similarly, States should refrain from adopting measures that denied or restricted the transfer of advanced ICTs “know-how”, including technologies, and means and investment in required infrastructure.  Such efforts would only “postpone international efforts to bridge the digital divide”, he stressed.  His country had implemented policies that narrowed the digital divide at the national level through domestic programmes providing easy access to ICTs and digital-based resources.  In Iran’s sixth development plan, one‑fifth of all new job opportunities per year would come from the ICT sector.  The private sector would also continue to play a significant role, along with youth and the new generation of entrepreneurs.

The representative of Cuba, associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, described deep inequalities in connectivity which resulted from the current unjust global development model.  While the necessary resources existed to bridge those gaps, changing the status quo required political will and commitment from all developed countries on financing, investment, training, infrastructure creation, knowledge dissemination and the transfer of technology and intellectual property.  “ICTs should be used to enhance people’s capacities for economic and social development, to promote peace and knowledge, to eradicate poverty, illiteracy and social exclusion” based on the strict respect for the Charter, he said.  Establishing a New World Information and Communication Order was a pressing need for developing countries to successfully assume the commitments agreed at the World Summit on the Information Society and to contribute to implementing the 2030 Agenda.  Voicing deep concern at the covert and illegal use of computer systems by individuals, organizations and States to attack other countries and potentially generate international conflicts, he said the only way to face such threats was through cooperation among all States.

The representative of Indonesia, associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said ICTs could be key enablers for development.  They could also provide new solutions to development challenges.  However, “we must be aiming at digital dividends, not digital divides,” he said.  ICTs must be adopted as an integral part of national sustainable development strategies.  As well, fostering international cooperation was crucial in order to make ICTs more affordable and accessible.  He went on to recommend preventative measures against the abusive use of ICTs.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates, associating herself with the Group of 77, said that her country’s Council of Ministers communicated with all of society through mass and social media and furthered opportunities with the private sector and entrepreneurs.  A council for the fourth industrial revolution had been established, seeking to build relations between public and private institutions for technological diplomacy.  Such efforts reflected the United Arab Emirates’ commitment to modernity, openness, tolerance and the participation of all people in ICTs.  However, there was a need to bolster collective work against cyberterrorism, and she urged States to expose misleading ideas used by terrorist and extremist groups.  On a national level, numerous social media campaigns were continuing to expose extremist messages and the deceit by ISIL.  In addition, her country also participated in numerous forums and meetings that addressed the future of the Internet and emphasized the importance of international cooperation for ICTs for development.  In that regard, the United Arab Emirates also sought to strengthen multilateral cooperation and the creation of effective laws and regulations.

The representative of Qatar, associating himself with the Group of 77, said ICTs were crucial in achieving the 2030 Agenda and urged for greater dissemination of knowledge, technologies and capacity-building.  In that regard, his country had established an enabling ICT infrastructure, and had launched an annual study to calculate domestic progress relating to ICTs.  His country was actively involved in technological research and promoted education and science as essential components for the development of inclusive and peaceful societies.  Cybercrime and piracy were interlinked with organized crime, and he urged States to work together to combat and penalize those crimes.  As well, due to “illegitimate” unilateral measures undertaken against it, Qatar faced many obstacles in its efforts to fight cybercrime.  ICTs could be used for illicit purposes to violate laws, and in that regard, he called upon the international community to create a common strategy to fight those crimes.

ISMAIL RAUSHAN ZAHIR (Maldives), associating himself with the Alliance of Small Island States and the Group of 77, said that, as a small State comprising 1,190 small islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Maldives prioritized the harnessing of ICTs as part of its development strategy.  The dispersed nature of its population posed unique challenges, with the cost of providing and maintaining socioeconomic services in Maldives often four to five times higher than in other small island developing States.  In that context, the Government was undertaking several awareness-raising and capacity-building programmes, and had created an enabling environment for the private sector.  Those efforts had resulted in more widespread and affordable access to services.  New technologies were also being used in more traditional sectors, including fisheries and tourism, allowing the country’s output to be more efficient and productive. 

The representative of Saudi Arabia, associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country was carrying out major projects that focused on strategies to improve ICT infrastructure.  Everyone must have connectivity to broadband, he stressed, noting that the Government’s partnership with the private sector had helped provide broadband to 90 per cent of people in cities and 60 per cent in rural areas.  Saudi Arabia was proud to serve all faithful Muslims worldwide, most notably during their pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.  Some 13,000 mobile stations had provided services to over a million users and 700 million phone calls were supported during the one-week hajj.  He also underscored that cyberspace and data protection required “true international partnership” as well as a regulatory framework to provide digital protection to all countries.

The representative of Senegal said humankind must all be able to take advantage of ICTs and participate in creating a future for the benefit of all people.  Innovation and new technologies and information were a significant asset for sustainable development.  Many African countries found themselves in a situation of a “technological deficit”, with no access to knowledge and, consequently, the global market.  All countries, particularly developed ones, must aim efforts to bridge the digital divide between developing and developed countries.  ICT could make a substantial contribution to sustainable development and improve the lives of millions by creating important synergies among various sectors. 

The representative of Kenya pointed out that many developing countries and especially least developed countries still lagged behind in the use of ICTs, with challenges ranging from the persistent digital divide to connectivity and access.  The United Nations should fast track the operationalization of the Technology Bank as elaborated in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  Outlining his Government’s investments in establishing an environment conducive to a thriving ICT sector, he said each of Kenya’s 47 counties was connected to fibre optic technology.  The country’s universities were providing higher learning in the areas of science and technology, and the Government was creating a dedicated institute in that field with the help of development partners.  Kenya’s education network, known as “KENET”, enabled the sharing of research infrastructure and services, including Internet bandwidth and supercomputing.  Additionally, it had had extraordinary success with its mobile money payments system, known as “MPesa”.

The representative of Nepal, associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the fast pace of ICT development had a profound impact on business and public services and offered huge potential for developing countries.  It was critical to achieve the benchmark to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet to least developed countries by 2020.  Noting the establishment of the Technology Bank, he urged support for it to ensure its effective operationalization.  He also encouraged the adoption of policies and strategies to ensure the availability, affordability and accessibility to ICT services coupled with modern infrastructure and service delivery systems.  Recalling the 2015 Nepal earthquake, he said ICTs could minimize loss during disasters through early warning systems, information dissemination, and post‑disaster rescue and recovery campaigns.

 The representative of China, associating himself with the Group of 77, said greater attention should be given to recognize the significance of ICTs for economic and social development.  States should reinforce capacity-building and strengthen efforts to bridge the digital divide at all levels.  Additional attention should be given to address the needs of developing countries through enhanced infrastructure and skills training.  There should be greater partnerships for development through strengthened North-South and South-South cooperation, as well as knowledge sharing, technology transfer and technological training.  His country had implemented a national strategy for innovation, a national ICT strategy and an international strategy for cooperation on cyberspace.  China would continue to promote synchronized ICTs thorough urbanization and agricultural modernization, while promoting international cooperation for common development.

The representative of Togo, associating himself with the Group of 77, said there was “no doubt” that science and innovation had an increasing role in development and prosperity.  It provided “modern life tools” to fight climate change, eliminate poverty and achieve food security.  As such, it was critical to remove the barriers to technology at the international level and pay attention to local needs.  Science technology and innovation must be beneficial to the poor, women, children, the disabled, marginalized, and to regions affected by humanitarian crisis and terrorism.  He noted his Government’s recent reforms and initiatives undertaken including the use of cell phones to distribute State subsidies to farmers.  Several programmes had been set up to extend the Internet to most of the population.  He reiterated his call for enhanced international cooperation and the sharing of ICT.

PHILIP FOX-DRUMMOND GOUGH (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the importance of ICTs went beyond the areas spotlighted in the 2030 Agenda.  Indeed, they were also a powerful and transformative tool to foster economic growth, social inclusion and environmentally-friendly solutions, enabling advances in the three dimensions of sustainable development.  “This potential will only be fully materialized if it serves humanity as a whole,” he said, calling for efforts to bridge the digital divide both between Member States and within countries.  While Brazil upheld an applied multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance, distinct issues might require specific frameworks, taking into account the differentiated roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders.  Welcoming progress achieved at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), he said he hoped that States could jointly advance the implementation of the concept of enhanced cooperation, with the aim of improving mechanisms to address international public policies related to the Internet. 

The representative of Mexico said States needed to strengthen public policy in order to respond in a more rapid way to challenges and opportunities brought by the latest technological revolution.  While technology had brought forth much progress, the inequality gap among people also had been broadened.  Technological advance had brought about significant advances in health and agricultural sectors.  However, challenges in labour, unemployment and capacity remained.  In addition, it was estimated that 2 billion jobs would be lost to automation by 2030.  “We are entering the most disruptive period of our history,” she said, noting her country’s response to the challenges.  Noting that Mexico had hosted events on how technological change and automation impacted sustainable development, she urged the United Nations and its agencies, as well as regional and international forums, the private sector, academia, and scientists to collaborate on a broad narrative on the exponential technological changes. 

The representative of Bahrain said her country carried out a comprehensive reform of the ICT sector and fulfilled more than 300 indicators in terms of Government-provided services to the population.  Her Government encouraged technological innovation through various events and initiatives, and strengthened its role in the fourth industrial revolution by promoting the exchange of knowledge and information.  She said that some electronic service companies, such as Amazon, recently announced that they would set up networks in Bahrain.  That development would make the country a regional gateway for cloud computing and would facilitate greater regional trade and e-commerce.

SYLVAIN KALSAKAU (Vanuatu) associated himself with the Group of 77, the Alliance of Small Island States and the Group of Least Developed Countries.  He said his Government prioritized ICT infrastructure investment and connectivity as part of its sustainable development plan.  The domestic telecommunications sector was liberalized in 2008 with around 15 per cent of the population accessing telecommunications services.  Today, 93 per cent of the population had Internet access.  Despite progress, his country lacked the speed and clout that other countries harnessed in terms of ICTs.  He urged a multifaceted approach to bridge the digital divide between developing and developed countries.  His Government supported the ITU Connect 2020 Agenda for an information society which would accelerate social, economic and environmentally sustainable growth and development for all.  On the national level, Vanuatu would create a conducive environment through policies and legal frameworks that foster ICT and telecommunication development in conjunction with the private sector and through public-private partnerships.

The representative of South Africa, associating himself with the Group of 77, said the spread of ICTs was now faster than ever before, with more people having access to internet, mobile phones and related devices.  Nevertheless, data revealed a substantial digital divide in ICT access and use.  Voicing particular concern over that divide between developing countries – especially least developed countries – and other nations in terms of access to household access to ICTs, he said Africa remained the least connected region.  More efforts were needed, including through investments in infrastructure, services, skills development and content.  It was, therefore, important that developing countries, especially in Africa, were provided with coordinated support through the transfer of technology, technical assistance and capacity-building that was tailor-made to the diverse needs of each country.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that while ICT offered great opportunities, the digital divide and limited access continued to play a negative role in sustainable development.  In that context, he underscored the need to focus on building relevant infrastructure, providing high-quality training to technology professionals and promoting the use of e-government services.  Universal broadband technology must be utilized and implemented.  The Russian Federation had worked to expand access to broadband.  Its mobile access to broadband was the cheapest in the world and its cost was expected to decrease further.  The Russian Federation encouraged international cooperation in the research of cloud computing and AI.  Governments must promote partnerships in the telecommunications sector.  ICT also faced major challenges including a rise in threats of terrorism.  He called on Member States to deepen cooperation to develop laws and rules acceptable to all and build a secure and well-protected network.

ALADE AKINREMI BOLAJI (Nigeria) said ICT access in Africa had improved immensely, and increased productivity and innovation in the public and private sectors.  His country facilitated universal availability and cost-effective access to communications infrastructure and promoted the utilization of ICTs in all spheres of life.  His Government also achieved cutting-edge global ICT standards, and encouraged the rapid ICT penetration among all socioeconomic levels.  In doing so, Nigeria would increase the current coverage of active mobile broadband subscription from 20.95 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020.  His country promoted and encouraged local production of ICT hardware and software to reduce import dependence and generate foreign exchange.  Noting the disparity between the availability and use of emerging ICTs, he urged for the international community to give “pride of place” to the education curriculum and thereby bridge the digital divide.  He additionally called for digital inclusion and financial access by lowering the cost of ICT devices, traffic, applications, technician and educator training, software, maintenance and infrastructures.

YONATHAN GUEBREMEDHIN SIMON (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, underscored that more than 800 million people in least developed nations remained offline.  “Despite progress, Africa is the least connected continent,” he said, noting lingering challenges in infrastructure investment, skills and content.  It was important to enhance international cooperation and promote more public-private partnerships aimed at bridging the digital divide.  Developing countries must also provide support, including technological transfer and capacity-building.  In Ethiopia, the primary objective of using ICT was as an enabler for poverty reduction and economic growth.  He noted that ICT community centres had been opened in rural areas and also created employment for young people.  It was vital to ensure access to affordable and reliable technologies.

URSULA WYNHOVEN, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), highlighted the report, “Fast Forward Progress-Leveraging Tech to Achieve the Global Goals” and shared lessons from the discussions that had generated the report.  “Leaving no one behind means we cannot leave anyone offline,” she said, also adding that women faced more barriers to acquiring digital skills.  ICTs could be life‑changing and life-saving for women, children, workers and refugees.  Vigilance was necessary to ensure that the benefits were not confined to the privileged few.

DINO CORELL, International Labour Organization (ILO), said that the digital economy, innovation, AI, robotization and 3D printing among others would contribute to structural changes within industries and labour markets.  Digital transformation would address youth unemployment, which currently affected two out of every five young women and men worldwide, who were unemployed or working but living in poverty.  Noting the priority areas of the Global Initiative for Decent Jobs for Youth (DJY), he said the ILO had in 2016 launched a “digital skills for decent jobs for youth” campaign.  The initiative aimed to mobilize investments to equip 5 million youth with digital skills globally by 2030, realize the potential of the digital economy and promote an enabling environment for entrepreneurship.

News

Entrepreneur Urges Leveraging Artificial Intelligence for Benefit of All in Second Committee, Economic and Social Council Joint Meeting

Delegates Debate Eradication of Poverty, Development Issues in Afternoon Meeting

New technology would be central to achieving development goals, with artificial intelligence (AI) leveraged to process data on health, commerce, communications and transportation, entrepreneur Stephen Ibaraki told a joint session of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) and the Economic and Social Council today.

In that regard, stakeholders needed to work together to gauge opportunities and ensure technology would benefit all, he emphasized, addressing a panel discussion on “the future of everything — sustainable development in the age of rapid technological change”.

Machine learning and AI had already replaced human cognition through algorithms, assistance, augmentation, automation and autonomous intelligence, he noted.  Those advancements would mean a $16 trillion increase in gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.  Similarly, gains from AI would boost GDP by 55 per cent from 2017 to 2030 and, in 2030 alone, 58 per cent of GDP would come from consumer attitudes, he said.  Every region could benefit from AI, with the largest predicted to be China and the United States.

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed concurred that technology could enhance food security, reduce waste and help local economies grow.  However, she warned that many nations would need more than just those benefits, urging the international community to form partnerships in ensuring equal technological access.

Addressing the plight of less developed countries, FarmDrive co-founder Rita Kimani stressed the need to examine root problems and tools available in assessing the best technology to use.  Her organization had learned that access to finance was among the biggest challenges for small farmers, who had no smart phones.  They used tools they already had — basic mobile phones — to send messages to the FarmDrive platform.

Presentations were also made by Hanson Robotics Chief Executive Officer David Hanson, Harvard University’s metalLAB Faculty Director Jeffrey Schnapp and Columbia University Professor Emeritus of Public and Environmental Health Dickson Despommier.

During an ensuing discussion, speakers emphasized the importance of universal technology access and its ensuing benefits, as well as the risk of negative robotic “values” and cultural personalities.

The International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) representative asked the panel how the global community could achieve its goal of universal and affordable access to the Internet by 2020.  Mr. Ibaraki said public-private partnerships must be strengthened through outreach from all multi-stakeholders, especially in least developed countries.

In a similar vein, Mauritius’ representative asked how economic gains would “trickle down”, reducing poverty and ensuring technological accessibility.  Mr. Ibaraki responded that technology would continue to evolve and eventually the challenge would solve itself, as AI would likely appear in all devices.

The representative from Global Pulse underscored the urgency of addressing risks, as AI had “as much potential for good or harm as nuclear energy”.  Mr. Hanson said the international community must continue to use all available tools without waiting for regulation, but Ms. Kimani stressed that human needs must be at the centre of conversations.

Likewise, the representative of Sierra Leone asked how producers would prevent them from acquiring the “worst of human values”, while ensuring culturally relative personalities.  Mr. Hanson replied that technological producers would include abstract reasoning in artificial intelligence, and empower machines to understand consequences of their actions.

“It comes down to love,” he said, adding that technology producers would create algorithms to move artificial intelligence and computing towards wisdom and “super benevolence”.  Culturally, his robotics had a wide diversity characterized by different skin tones and cultural values.

In an afternoon session, the Second Committee took up poverty eradication, stressing the need for increased employment, resource mobilization, investments in education as well as health and global financing.

Ecuador’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said good economic performance in African countries over the last two decades had failed to reduce poverty or create jobs.  Some 22 per cent of Africans lived on $.70 to $1.25 per day, while 25 per cent lived on less than $.70 per day.  Expressing concern over the lack of employment, he noted that 203.8 million people would be unemployed by 2018.  More economic opportunities were needed, along with increased mobilization of resources and adequate means for developing countries to implement policies and programmes.

Cambodia’s representative stressed the need to expand economies and invest in education and health, noting that his country had diversified exports to curb its reliance on the garment, tourism and agricultural industries.  Cambodia’s achievements in poverty reduction had been driven by robust and equitable macroeconomic growth, with strong checks on inflation, increases in agricultural production, and improved infrastructure.

Speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries, Bangladesh’s representative said poverty in his group of States had fallen from 43.6 per cent in 2008 to 36.3 per cent in 2013.  However, levels of extreme poverty remained high in the group, with countries growing at the slowest pace of economic expansion since 2000.  Inequality in income, wealth and opportunities plagued those States, he said, while conflicts, climate change, diseases and economic “shocks” continued to thwart them.  Stressing that global support through financing was vital, he said he looked forward to improvements in official development assistance (ODA), trade and foreign direct investment (FDI).

At the onset of the meeting, Secretary-General’s reports were presented by Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), on women in development (document A/72/282); Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, on implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty 2008 to 2017 (document A/72/283); and Navid Hanif, Director of the Office for Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, on human resource development for the twenty-first century (document A/72/292).

Also speaking were the representatives of Belize, Maldives, El Salvador, Israel, China, Philippines, Singapore, Iran, Viet Nam, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Cambodia on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Tonga, Iraq, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Cuba and Malawi.

The Committee will meet again on Thursday, 12 October, to conclude its debate on poverty eradication.

Opening Remarks

MARIE CHATARDOVÁ (Czech Republic), President of the Economic and Social Council, said artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of things changed the way the international community worked, obtained information, made bank transactions and networked.  She said AI was at the heart of online search and translation services, e‑commerce recommendations, real traffic prediction and self‑driving cars.  However, the international community did not yet know its global impact.  The long‑term consequences of deep technological changes were unknown, she stated.  AI could accelerate progress, but also would pose a range of complex challenges, including ethical questions, human rights issues and security risks.  “These questions will need to be addressed if we want our fellow citizens to embrace technological change rather than perceive it as a threat,” she said.  Public response, at national and global levels, was lagging technological progress, thus she urged for better understanding of science and technology for development.  “Let us not forget that many places around the globe still lack basic access to electricity and to a networked infrastructure,” she said.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), Chair of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), noted that his country was a small nation with few natural resources and a limited internal market.  Yet the size of the country and enterprising spirit of the people had been a huge advantage in building up an information society with high quality services.  When Estonia started building its information society about two decades ago, many in his country had no access to the Internet or the devices to use it.  It required vision and strong leadership to invest in and adopt the information technology route.  Both the public and private sectors understood the need to invest in positioning Estonia as an information society and integrate e‑governance solutions as they were created.  Turning to the use of technology in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he said it would be vital to address security concerns and privacy.  People would only use e‑solutions if they were safe, trustworthy and convenient.  Innovative technologies offered unprecedented opportunities for implementing the Goals, but also required managing the risks of those technologies.

AMINA J. MOHAMMED, Deputy Secretary‑General, said technological progress must be well managed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  She urged the international community to engage in partnerships to leverage the power of technology equitably.  New technology could enhance food security, reduce waste and help local economies grow, among other advancements.  In Zambia, the first virtual farmers market was piloted.  Seed planting drones were tested and indirectly helped to mitigate climate change.  Mobilized construction changed how roads were built and monitored across Africa and the developing world.  Technology should not be used as a “silver bullet”, she said.  Highlighting recent technological events hosted at the United Nations, she stressed that creativity and imagination of youth must be nurtured to create new solutions and reach the Sustainable Development Goals.  The international community must also protect workers and help them adjust to technological advancements, close the digital divide and avoid exacerbating inequalities through proper education and training.  Engaging Sofia the robot, she asked how the United Nations could ensure that all people benefited from technological advancements.  In response, Sofia stated that AI could produce results with fewer resources.  Thus, AI could be leveraged to distribute the world’s existing resources, such as food and energy, in a more equitable manner.

Panel Discussion

JENNIFER STRONG, Moderator of the discussion and Host of the Wall Street Journal’s “The Future of Everything” podcast, said today’s event aimed to show how technology was shaping society.  Adding that she herself was not a technologist, she said it was all too easy to let someone else decide how technology affected our daily lives.  But leaving technology to others would be neglecting the great challenges of the time.  With her programme, she had assumed the responsibility of standing in for people who did not understand.  Through storytelling, she hoped to bring more voices into the conversation, as if technology belonged to all.

DAVID HANSON, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Hanson Robotics, said he hoped he could assist in connecting technologists and humanitarians in deciding how technology could benefit all.  His company made machines that were fundamentally human.  They took the nano properties of human soft tissue and produced mobile, social robots.  As art forms like animation had brought wonder and delight to the world, robotics could perform a similar service.  However, it was important to understand what it was like to be human.  By making AI grow up among humans, perhaps robots could really care about people and become alive.  There was a revolution at work today in the field of bioengineering, which had just begun to see the implications of work that would change the world.  He stressed that robotics must make machines reflecting the best people could be, humanizing robots as animated characters.  The goal was to make living robots that were truly ethical and could make the world a better place.

STEPHEN IBARAKI, serial entrepreneur and founding managing partner of REDDS Venture Investment Partners, said due to the rapid progress in AI, technological advancements would be central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  AI could be leveraged to solve humanity’s challenges by processing data on health, commerce, communications, transportation and more.  Thus, stakeholders must work together to evaluate opportunities and ensure such advancements would benefit all of humanity.  AI and machine learning already replaced human cognition through algorithms, assistance, augmentation, automation and autonomous intelligence, he continued.  Those advancements would result in a $16 trillion increase in gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.  Similarly, the gains from AI would result in a 55 per cent gain in GDP from 2017 to 2030, and in 2030 alone, 58 per cent of GDP would come from consumer impacts.  He said every region could benefit from AI, with the largest beneficiaries predicted to be in China and the United States.  The impact of AI would be apparent in economic, cultural and social disruption.  For example, such advancements could track poverty through satellite imagery and poverty mapping from space.  Machine learning could extend medical care through remote diagnosis and the enhancement of transportation resources.  AI could serve as a key resource in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and further promoting the development of smart cities.  As every sector would be affected, he encouraged the international community to consider liability rules, ethnical conduct, transparency and open partnerships.

RITA KIMANI, Co‑founder of FarmDrive, questioned whether robots would make a difference to rural farmers in her home country of Kenya.  It was necessary to take a step back to look at the root problems and real challenges one was attempting to address.  What were the challenges of communities and could technology be used to solve them, she asked.  Her organization had learned that access to finance was among the biggest challenges for small farmers.  So it looked at how technology could assist farmers in obtaining credit.  That was done by looking at simple revenue data from farmers, using it to assess the risk and then determining whether they could have credit.  In the case of those farmers, it was important to focus on the real problems and be aware of a community’s culture.  Small rural farmers, for example, had no smartphones, so a device they could use had to be found.  In the end, they used a basic mobile phone to send messages to the FarmDrive platform, using a tool they already had access to.

JEFFREY SCHNAPP, founder and faculty director of metaLAB at Harvard University, said the international community should not narrow the scope of our technological conversations.  He said robots come in all shapes, sizes and forms and have already transformed economic production.  Robotics and AI were already part of the everyday world, outside of warehouses and production plants.  He underscored that technological advancements augment the human experience.  Smart vehicles, for example, were used to map cities and inform urban development.  As shifts into those augmented realms, the international community must consider how information and data would be used.  The use of data would pose one of the greatest challenges, and the international community must leverage such information responsibly.  There was a trend, he continued, to treat algorithmic knowledge as a form of public knowledge and it had become part of our social and cultural lives.  As a result, educational institutions must reshape themselves and the international community must encourage lifelong learning.  Humanity must prepare and understand our relationship with the “world of devices” as digital tools, smart devices and the intensity of connectivity would continue to have greater impact.

DICKSON DESPOMMIER, Professor Emeritus of Public and Environmental Health, Columbia University, stressed that all people in the world needed to eat and drink.  The difficulty was in getting adequate supplies to them.  Sometimes, there was not enough rain to fill reservoirs and sometimes the food that was grown was raided by animals or destroyed by adverse weather.  Noting that eliminating hunger was among the primary goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said it could be accomplished if the global community tried hard enough.  The world was now faced with rapid climate change and its consequent effects on health.  The cause was primarily deforestation as well as the use of fossil fuels.  Deforestation — which had mainly occurred to clear land for farming — took away the ability of the Earth to take back carbon it had fed into the atmosphere.  Noting that farming was 10,000 years old and traditional, he said no one wanted to break with that practice.  Rather than human clearing of land, a tsunami in Japan had trashed 5 per cent of its farmland in one hour.  In that case, the solution was indoor farming — vertical multi‑story farms, rather than one‑level greenhouses.  Countries were now adopting this alternative, led by Japan, and were producing great quantities of food.  Other countries using vertical farms included Singapore, China and Germany.  The advantages of vertical farming were that it was year‑round, used 70 to 90 per cent less water and could be established anywhere in the world.

Interactive Discussion

Ms. STRONG asked Sofia what the United Nations could do to support innovation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Sofia responded that leaders must work together to build an equitable, standard infrastructure.

The moderator next asked the panel about the historical precedent of technological innovation.  Mr. IBARAKI said the implications to labour would result in a period of disruption and chaos, but economic and social benefits would manifest in the long‑run.  Mr. SCHNAPP responded that social panic around automation was recorded throughout the history of industrialization, and would be repeated with the development of AI and robotics.  So far, evidence had shown that technological advancements would not fuel job loss, but may fuel inequality.  To address that concern, the international community must do more to ensure adequate skills and capacity‑building.

The representative from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) asked how the global community might achieve its goal of universal and affordable access to the Internet by 2020, including in the least developed countries.  Mr. IBARAKI responded that public‑private partnerships must be strengthened through outreach from the United Nations.  The enhanced engagement of all the multi‑stakeholders would be required to accelerate that goal, particularly in the least developed countries.  Mr. SCHNAPP responded that the international community must urgently acknowledge broadband access as a civil right.

The representative of Nigeria asked how technological advancements in the labour markets might impact youth unemployment, particularly in Nigeria and sub‑Saharan Africa.  Mr. HANSON responded that the technological community was actively engaging Africa in research and through open robotics programmes.  He said that such initiatives were producing significant results and supported the production of low‑cost, open source tools and resources.  Such opportunities also created welcoming environments for entrepreneurship and infrastructural developments.  Ms. KIMANI said the international community must continue to address the root causes of inequalities, while also responding to technological advancements.  Mr. IBARAKI said the investment community considered Africa the greatest new opportunity on a personalization and localization basis, thus the region would continue to see greater investments, particularly around financial services and education.  Mr. DESPOMMIER said there was great interest in establishing indoor vertical farming, which would not require significant changes to skillsets.  Thus, AI in developing communities could enhance agriculture.

The representative of Mauritius asked how to ensure that economic gains would “trickle down”, reduce poverty and ensure technological accessibility.  Mr. IBARAKI responded that the greatest growth would be seen in Africa, including through investment and representation in scientific communities.  In terms of accessibility, technology would continue to evolve and eventually the challenge would solve itself, as AI would likely appear in all devices.

The representative of Sierra Leone asked how producers would prevent robots from acquiring the “worst of human values”, while ensuring culturally relative personalities and values.  Mr. HANSON said his company was working to improve deep learning through pattern extraction.  In doing so, technological producers would include abstract reasoning in AI and empower machines to understand the consequences of their actions.  “It comes down to love,” he continued.  Technology producers would create algorithms that moved AI and computing towards wisdom and “super benevolence”.  In terms of cultural design, he said his robotics have a wide cultural diversity as characterized by different skin tones and cultural values.  Mr. IBARAKI said agreements in the European Union Parliament addressed liability, employment and ethical conduct.  Global science associations and other related reports also addressed those concerns, as well as threats to humanity’s existential existence.

The representative of Brazil said access should not only be shared with consumers, but also with producers of technology.  Greater consideration should be given to developing countries as they could play a significant role in innovation and technology, including by strengthening intellectual and financial systems.  She said that other problems may not require technological solutions, but rather political ones.  Thus, the international community must not forget human responsibilities to global challenges.  Additionally, greater consideration should be given to defining who decides ethics and values.  In that regard, she noted the use of robotics and technological advancements for military use.  As a final comment, she reinforced the importance of privacy rights with respect to innovation.  Mr. IBARAKI said that the United Nations would remain a key facilitator in those discussions, and that overall, the scientific community was encouraging broad dialogue in that regard.  The open source movement and talent crowdsourcing would continue to be widely accessible, he said.  Mr. SCHNAPP reiterated that the open source community was an open community and that most operating systems were open source.  Mr. DESPOMMIER noted a media laboratory which was working to enhance vertical farming, and the information from which would be open source.  Mr. HANSON said blockchain would help to decentralize economic initiatives and facilitate entrepreneurship.

The representative of Zambia urged that the international community continue dialogue on such issues, while ensuring a global governance system which incorporated universal codes of conduct.  Regarding job loss, he said many economies were based on low cost products, many of which would be replaced by new innovations.  In that regard, he asked how Governments might tax labour, given that humans would be replaced by robotics.  Mr. IBARAKI said taxation had already been addressed in many high‑level discussions.

The representative of South Africa asked about the future of human beings, and how to combat the unequal division of benefits.  Mr. IBARAKI said there would be a coexistence of robotics and humans.  Concerning job loss and governance, innovation would create new opportunities.  Mr. SCHNAPP said there was a diversity of opinions on how tools and technologies would interact and that they would be shaped by disparate belief systems and social values.

The representative of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development asked about the digital divide, while the representative of Global Pulse asked how to mitigate the risks of smart technologies in a manner that ensured that data was properly managed and utilized.  The latter underscored the urgency of addressing risks, as AI had “as much potential for good or harm as nuclear energy”.  In terms of human rights, he urged for a stronger governance approach to innovation.  Mr. HANSON said the international community must continue to utilize all available tools without waiting for regulation.  The value of automation, he continued, was that it managed resources efficiently, thus the democratization of technology would benefit mass production and lower costs.  Mr. IBARAKI said more consideration should be given to technological assessment and skills building.  The unintended consequences of innovation must also be addressed by all stakeholders.  Ms. KIMANI reiterated that human needs must be at the centre of conversations.  Ultimately, the international community must achieve a good balance between innovation and policy.  Mr. SCHNAPP said the international community must create a universal code of values while ensuring proper leadership to decide upon ethics and values.  Mr. DESPOMMIER said ethical considerations should not prohibit innovation, thus more open dialogue would continue to be necessary.

Concluding Remarks

Ms. STRONG questioned what the global community could do to ensure more people were empowered to take advantage of new technologies.  It was also difficult to know if the world was on the right track with certain technologies and how they could be used to increase productivity.

Mr. ZHENMIN said the world was at a critical juncture, faced with unprecedented challenges and unique opportunities for a challenging future.  Technology was the main driver of economic growth and could be revolutionary in transforming societies.  AI could bring a new industrial revolution, which would be fundamentally different than previous ones.  The influence of technology on the future was not preordained but could be influenced by proactive policies to embrace and direct it, ensuring that gains were broadly shared.

Ms. CHATARDOVÁ said the potential for grass‑roots initiatives in the field of agriculture and food security were truly inspiring as the international community sought avenues to accelerate progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda.  Likewise, AI‑enabled solutions in the mobility and transportation sectors would go a long way in making cities more sustainable.  Yet, there were also risks associated with those new technologies, and a need to bring regulation to issues that were so far largely ungoverned.  There was more to learn about the impact of AI on societies at large and its potential to accelerate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. JÜRGENSON said the quest for innovative solutions to the complex challenges of the time should be particularly inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit and imagination of young people around the globe, using data as their generation’s natural resource.  The benefits of technological progress and innovation to all people remained far from clear.  However, the 2030 Agenda offered a vision that could help in navigating rapid technological change.

Presentation of Reports

LAKSHMI PURI, Assistant Secretary‑General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women), introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on women in development (document A/72/282).  She said the 2030 Agenda sought to promote gender equality and empowerment of women and girls as a Sustainable Development Goal in its own right.  The imperative of the gender‑responsive implementation of the Agenda was the task in front of the international community.  Gender equality strategies needed to be fully integrated into national sustainable development frameworks to promote greater policy coherence.  Adding that a central commitment of the Agenda was eradicating poverty, she noted that close to 800 million people still lived in extreme poverty around the world.  Most were in informal employment and many were women.  Vulnerability was the hallmark of informal employment, lacking health or safety regulations, benefits like health insurance, pensions and other social protection.  Such work failed to meet the criteria of decent work.  Recent estimates indicated that 600 million new jobs would need to be created by 2030 to keep pace with the growth of the global working age population.  Focus was needed on young women’s entry into the labour market, including in the areas of science, technology and innovation.

DANIELA BAS, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on the Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty 2008 to 2017 (document A/72/283).  She said a survey was circulated by the United Nations to track progress and remaining challenges in addressing extreme poverty.  Recommendations from the report emphasized the need for the United Nations system to maintain momentum in the context of the 2030 Agenda.  Despite the international community continuing to make progress in poverty eradication throughout the second decade, the Millennium Development Goal targets remained only partially met.  Since 1990, around 1 billion people were lifted out of extreme poverty, however the report noted uneven progress.  Although extreme poverty dropped, poverty levels remained high in many least developed countries.  Growth had not been sufficient to meet the needs of the growing labour force, particularly in countries with large youth populations, and gaps remained in addressing undernourishment and lack of education.  Lessons learned included the importance of social policy, adequate macroeconomic policies, investment in agriculture and infrastructure, rural development and policies to build resilience and empower people living in poverty.  She emphasized the importance of partnerships and reassurance mobilization and called for greater attention to poverty eradication programmes in the national context.  The international community must continue structural transformation by driving inclusive industrialization, combating inequality, promoting decent work, investing in education and health care and improving women’s participation in the labour market.

NAVID HANIF, Director of the Office for Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on human resource development for the twenty‑first century (document A/72/292).  He said human resource development was fundamental to fulfilling the 2030 Agenda.  Currently, employment trends painted a challenging picture due to decreasing jobs in some sectors, which was compounded by vulnerable employment in many developing countries.  Rapid advancements in science and technology innovation were transforming economies and societies.  Organization of work and production were changing because of globalization.  Stressing that education, training and skill development were at the core of human resources, he said there was an urgent need to improve them.  National institutions must adapt, especially in education, training and social protection system development strategies, which must be informed by stakeholder engagement and policies.  The United Nations provided policy advice in implementing the Agenda, and would continue to do so, although technological changes were shaping its ability.  Investment was needed in the Organization’s own workforce, putting people at its centre.

General Discussion

The representative of Nigeria asked Ms. BAS for policy prescriptions for development and poverty reduction in rural areas, especially in Africa.  Ms. BAS said the international community must go through a structural transformation of how to conceive rural areas and work with them in an integrated manner.  That would mean how work would be perceived and created in rural areas, including farm and non‑farm economies.  She said innovative solutions must be compatible with the environment and respect the dignity of the people.  She stated that she would be happy to provide additional information on best practices.  Ms. PURI, responding to the same question, said the Commission on the Status of Women would be focusing on women’s empowerment in the context of rural development.  That would be an important aspect of how one could address poverty, inequality and the rural‑urban divide.  States should create in rural areas the necessary infrastructure, such as electricity, education, transport, financing and telecommunications.  Sustainable agriculture and the farm economy should address eradicating poverty, creating jobs and meeting the needs of young people.  She said such efforts would limit the uncontrolled growth of urban areas, as young people would have an incentive to stay in rural areas.

DIEGO MOREJÓN-PAZMIÑO (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said there was no way to overemphasize the relevance of poverty reduction to developing States.  It was worrisome that more that 767 million people continued to live on less than $1.90 per day, he said.  The international community made progress in eradicating poverty, as 10.7 per cent of the world’s population was extremely poor in 2013 and 9.1 per cent of the world’s population was poor in 2016.  Despite good economic performance by African countries over the last two decades, that growth was not translated into poverty reduction or the creation of adequate jobs.  In fact, 22 per cent of Africans lived on between $.70 and $1.25 per day, while 25 per cent lived on less than $.70 dollars per day.  He also expressed concern about the lack of productive employment and decent work, as 203.8 million people would be unemployed by 2018.  In that regard, he called for the creation of more economic opportunities, increased mobilization of resources and adequate means for developing countries to implement policies and programmes.  He expressed concern that the progress for women and girls remained unbalanced, and recognized that women were key contributors to the economy and combating poverty.  Stressing that human resources development was at the heart of economic, social and environmental development, he emphasized that health and education were at the core of human resources development.

Statement by Cambodia on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to come.

LOIS MICHELE YOUNG (Belize), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that hurricane devastation in Barbuda and Dominica had underscored the interconnected vulnerabilities of the State and individual.  Farmers had lost their crops.  People had lost their livelihoods.  Economies, with productive sectors — agriculture and tourism — were virtually at a halt, she said.  While the Caribbean had improved its diagnosis of the complexity of the poverty problem, it had been far less progressive with its solutions.  Emphasizing that each State had a responsibility to align its plans with the 2030 Agenda, she said that the United Nations must not attempt to prescribe solutions at the domestic level.  Simply put, the needs of Caribbean countries far exceeded their means.  The added high debt and exposure to climate change only increased the region’s vulnerabilities.  The Caribbean had to work with its partners to develop financial instruments appropriate for loss and damage.  “Development is not linear,” she said, adding that the new multidimensional perspective on poverty should signal a “step change” in the response.

SHAMEES AHSAN (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, recounted the progress that had been made on poverty eradication in the last decade, citing it had fallen from 43.6 per cent in 2008 to 36.3 per cent in 2013.  However, levels of extreme poverty remained high in least developed countries and therefore remained a major concern.  Pointing out the vital role of economic growth in poverty eradication, he lamented that least developed countries were growing at the slowest pace of economic expansion since 2000.  Inequality in income, wealth and opportunities remained high in those States while conflicts, climate change, diseases and economic “shocks” continued to impact them.  To strengthen efforts, least developed countries must overcome structural impediments to enhance productive capacity and encourage the participation of women and children in poverty solutions.  Greater attention should be given to the agricultural sector, he continued, without neglecting the potential of the industrial sector.  Global support through financing was also vital and, in that regard, he looked forward to the implementation of ODA, trade and foreign direct investment (FDI).  Access to technology was also essential for development.  Finally, he stressed the importance of international support in addressing the severe impacts of climate change and natural hazards.

Ms. ZAHIR (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating herself with the Group of 77, said that increasingly frequent and more intense weather events had reversed any sustainable development gains made in eradicating poverty.  Such events, in addition to the 2007 to 2009 global financial and economic crisis, put small island States further in debt.  There was limited space to diversify economies as such States that largely relied on tourism, agriculture and fisheries.  All those industries faced great harm from climate change and thus faced great volatility.  Her region’s limited resources went towards rebuilding rather than sustainable development, and any gains were further reversed by other aspects of climate change including warming ocean temperatures, sea level rise and acidification.  Her region also faced numerous unfair financial arrangements that placed countries at greater disadvantage in the global market, including illicit financial flows, unfair trade practices and taxation challenges.  Although statistics showed that many small island developing States experienced high economic growth rates, such growth did not result in sustainable job creation.  Due to those challenges, her region was left with high indebtedness.  “The odds are stacked heavily against us as we desperately try to not only meet our various international obligations but also to provide safe, productive and fruitful living conditions for our citizens,” she stated.  Gains around empowering women and girls were also set back, however she reiterated her region’s commitment to the advancement of gender equality.  She implored Member States to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change.  She also called for international financial institutions to evaluate their criteria for access to financing, and urged the Secretary‑General to ensure that small island developing States were taken into account in all reform efforts.  Finally, she called upon all partners to meet their ODA.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf CELAC and associating himself with CARICOM, said eradication of poverty and sustainable development with social, economic and financial inclusion were challenges requiring global, regional and national efforts.  The irreversible eradication of poverty was a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development and ensuring equal opportunities of progress for societies.  Sustainable development must include groups in situations of vulnerability so that no one was left behind.  Equity, social and financial inclusion and access to fair credit were central to ensure overall access to justice, citizen participation, well‑being and a dignified life.  He stressed the need to improve the mechanisms of regulation, supervision and control of the international and regional financial systems to promote an international financial environment conducive to implementation of the 2030 Agenda, considering that the mobilization of national resources was insufficient in achieving economic growth which would contribute to sustainable development and promote mechanisms of justice and social inclusion to eradicate poverty.  He also highlighted the positive impact of facilitating and increasing intraregional trade in food for food and nutrition security.  Finally, he recognized the relevancy of South‑South and triangular cooperation, complementary to North‑South cooperation, as well as ODA to increase national capacities, improve food and nutrition security and encourage the exchange of good practices.

ORLI GIL (Israel) said that eradicating poverty required promoting capacity‑building and not solely resorting to aid.  Developing countries faced many of the same challenges that Israel struggled with in its early years.  In that context, Israel continued to provide technology and training to nations facing desertification, water scarcity and water desalination.  Today, Israel reused 95 per cent of the water it consumed for agricultural purposes.  She said Israel was working with Governments, civil society, academia and the private sector to create innovative solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  Israel also offered courses to instructors from developing nations.  It viewed the involvement of women and young people in the workforce as a prerequisite to poverty eradication.

LU YUHUI (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the international community must accelerate efforts to eradicate poverty by 2030, including through domestic development.  He urged for enhanced development cooperation through the establishment of new international relationships.  He said all countries should support the United Nations, World Bank and other related institutions in their efforts for poverty eradication, and in that regard, he stressed the importance of North‑South and South‑South cooperation.  He encouraged all Governments to enhance support to developing countries and bolster in depth regional cooperation, including through pragmatic cooperation in agriculture, green energy and infrastructure among others.  He also urged the international community to promote an equitable financial order to ensure that developing countries would be enabled to improve their infrastructure, connectivity and integration into supply and value chains.  China remained committed to poverty eradication, he said, noting that more than 600 million people in the country had been lifted out of poverty.  Over the past 60 years, his Government provided 166 countries and international organizations with ODA and dispatched more than 600,000 personnel to assist with humanitarian aid.  His country also furthered initiatives for debt cancelation and would continue to deepen its cooperation and support to developing countries.

MARIA ANGELA PONCE (Philippines), associating herself with the ASEAN and the Group of 77, said that economic growth alone did not lead to poverty eradication.  Despite being a middle‑income country, 8.23 million Filipinos were still subsistence poor.  She noted the importance of ensuring that women and girls achieved their full potential and were given equal opportunities especially in contributing to the workforce.  It was critical to empower women to participate in the labour market.  The Philippines national plan outlined strategies in improving access to childcare services, formulating policies that promoted work‑life balance, providing retraining services for women and enhancing maternal and paternal benefits.  She called on the United Nations to continue to mainstream gender and poverty elimination in their plans.

ANGELA NG (Singapore), associating herself with the Group of 77, the Alliance of Small Island States and ASEAN, said that social safety nets were essential to achieving sustainable development.  “Every Singaporean must be able to stand on their own two feet and live a life of dignity,” she stressed.  Jobs, family support and an empowered civil society were all crucial for communities to grow and prosper.  She emphasized the importance of life‑long learning and training to ensure that citizens were equipped with the necessary skills in changing workspaces.  Poverty was multidimensional, she continued, emphasizing that Singapore’s social safety net encompassed health care, housing, education, a mandatory comprehensive social security savings plan and income supplements for low‑wage workers.  Singapore’s social service officers were also empowered to exercise flexibility when providing aid to low‑income individuals and families, which helped tailor assistance to their needs.

JAVAD MOMENI (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that his country placed people at the heart of all development and had taken numerous steps to eradicate poverty.  Women were key contributors to the economy and the Government was working to create an enabling environment for them to become equal partners and beneficiaries of development.  Underscoring the link between poverty and peace, he added that the United Nations system should continue to coordinate its support to developing countries in their efforts to fight poverty.  The proclamation of a third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty would enhance those efforts.

HA THI THANH HUYEN (Viet Nam) said that poverty eradication was at the heart of development efforts.  In the last 30 years, more than 40 million Vietnamese people had escaped poverty.  That success was attributed to economic growth that created more and better jobs.  Yet challenges remained, as poverty persisted among ethnic minorities, and rural and mountainous populations.  Viet Nam was also among the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts, including sea level rise, droughts, floods and tropical cyclones.  Natural hazards had caused average annual economic losses estimated at 1‑1.5 per cent of GDP in the last two decades.  To maintain the gains in poverty reduction, Viet Nam had to find comprehensive solutions that minimized trade‑offs.

Ms. ALMEHAID (Saudi Arabia) said her country attached great importance to the Sustainable Development Goals, and had placed a great deal of focus on empowering women.  One of the most important aspects of those efforts included bringing more women into the workforce.  The percentage of working women in the country had increased from 22 to 30 per cent, which had resulted in 1 million new jobs for women.  Saudi women were an integral part of society — they had been elected to local councils, participated in official delegations at international and regional conferences and were fully integrated in the diplomatic corps.  Further, a woman was currently the head of the Saudi stock exchange, which was the largest in the Middle East.  There were now more than 30,000 business women in Saudi Arabia, she noted, adding that women represented some 52 per cent of college students.  As a result, Saudi Arabia had expanded scientific departments to accommodate the influx of women studying in that area.

MAHLATSE MMINELE (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that poverty remained the greatest global challenge and its eradication was a compulsory requirement for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.  To eradicate poverty in developing countries, those countries needed a fair chance as well as policy space to develop their economies, in order to bring about transformative sustainable development.  Member States should also demonstrate their will by committing to a rules‑based, non‑discriminatory multilateral system that would address systematic imbalances.

TLHALEFO BATSILE MADISA (Botswana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Africa Group, said that the pace of job creation remained inadequate in relation to the growing labour force.  His Government had made poverty eradication its top priority through social protection programmes that targeted the destitute and orphans.  He called on various development partners to continue assisting developing countries in terms of technical aid and capacity‑building, particularly in the areas of science and technology.  He reiterated that Africa had lagged behind all other regions in using information and communications technology (ICT).  While major challenges remained, Botswana had made significant progress to empower women and would remain committed to ensuring that no women and girls were left behind.

Mr. HENCKERT (Namibia) said that his Government had put in place several policies to protect workers, including minimum wage for key industries, safety standards and adherence to suitable environmental practices.  All primary and secondary school children had the right to free basic education, he said, pointing out that his country was undergoing a demographic transition, which presented an opportunity to leverage the large number of young workers to help build the economy.  The classification of Namibia as an upper‑middle‑income country was problematic, he said, because that did not take into account the huge income disparity between the rich and the poor.

RY TUY (Cambodia), associating himself with ASEAN, the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, he stressed the need to improve the quality of life for all citizens by investing in education and health, and diversifying the economy.  Outlining ways to increase Cambodia’s GDP by 2025, he noted that diversifying exports would help to deviate overreliance on the garment, tourism and agriculture industries.  Cambodia’s achievements in poverty reduction had been driven by robust and equitable macroeconomic growth.  That included strong checks on inflation, significant increases in agricultural production and productivity, and strengthening and improving infrastructure.  International support was still welcomed, he said, noting that official development assistance (ODA) played a significant role in contributing to the success of the 2030 Agenda.

MAHE’ULI’ULI SANDHURST TUPOUNIUA (Tonga), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said that issues such as health, education and economic growth were all of importance for his Government.  As such, he said that various strategies and policies had been put in place to support those areas including human resources development and poverty eradication.  Programmes that improved education and training, addressed non‑communicable diseases by promoting healthy lifestyles and formal services that helped the most vulnerable, including the elderly and disabled, were now all in place in Tonga.  Further, strengthening women’s economic empowerment and ensuring equal access to full and productive employment and decent work were other areas of concern and had been bolstered thanks to support from the European Union and various civil society initiatives.

Mr. ALKHAFAJI (Iraq), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country’s poverty rate had dropped to about 13 per cent in 2013 due to falling oil prices and the occupation by ISIL, which had led to unprecedented displacement of the population.  Iraq’s development plans extended to 2030 with a view to eradicating poverty by increasing wages and reducing disparities in pay between men and women.  Iraq granted loans to help the poor create new businesses and small‑scale projects, he said, emphasizing that more assistance was needed from the international community to alleviate poverty due to the country’s unique circumstances.

MAYTHONG THAMMAVONGSA (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries, and ASEAN, saying that reducing extreme poverty and overcoming other daunting development challenges would not be possible without further strengthening international development cooperation.  In that connection, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic called on development partners to scale‑up financing for United Nations operational activities, he said, adding that the Government attached great importance to eradicating poverty and to rural development, he said, calling attention to his country’s particular development challenges due to the prevalence of unexploded ordnance.

Mr. TAMALGO (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that in 2016, his country had adopted a national socioeconomic plan for the period 2016‑2020 with a view to transforming the domestic economy through a favourable industrial environment and reform of the education system.  The Government had also promoted competitive industries, thereby strengthening productivity and the marketing of agricultural products.  Structural changes included improved urbanization, a lower birth rate and falling child mortality.  Ultimately, the effect of the national strategy would be the creation of 50,000 decent jobs per year, he said.  The strategy would also reduce demographic growth to 2.7 per cent by 2020, accelerate human capital and reduce negative consumption patterns.  Burkina Faso would continue its efforts to mobilize its natural resources to finance that strategy, he said.

CHRISTINE KALAMWINA (Zambia), associating herself with the Group of 77, the African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, recalled that for more than a decade, his country had been on a path to realizing its Vision 2030 of becoming a prosperous middle‑income country.  However, persistently high national poverty levels remained at around 54.4 per cent, despite strong economic growth.  The situation in rural areas was even worse, with poverty estimated to be around 76.6 per cent, she noted.  The number of vulnerable households had also taken an upward swing, with people lacking access to such essential basic services as health care, education, water and sanitation.  In that context, the Government of Zambia had committed to reducing the national poverty rate by 20 per cent by 2021.

LEULESEGED TADESE ABEBE (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the progress made in eradicating poverty was uneven across and within regions, adding that 35 per cent of the people in least developed countries could still be living in poverty by 2030.  The Government of Ethiopia continued to coordinate development efforts with political commitment, and as a result of its efforts, the national economy had registered double‑digit growth through three consecutive national development plans.  Poverty had declined from 45 to 22 per cent, and per capita income had grown from $377 in 2009 to $794 in 2016.  Ethiopia had also undertaken legal and policy measures that had attracted special attention to the economic empowerment and political participation of women and girls, he said.  Reducing poverty by generating decent and productive jobs while consolidating the pace of structural transformation would remain among the top development priorities, but national efforts would not succeed without a revitalized global partnership and an enabling development environment.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said poverty was the result of the unjust and exclusionary economic model that had prevailed in recent decades.  Capitalism had never placed human beings at its heart and had doomed millions of people to lives of poverty.  Foreign occupation, political and economic destabilization, colonialism, war and the international financial system were the real obstacles that must be overcome if poverty was to be eradicated, he emphasized.  The world’s richest minority continued to benefit from that unfair world order, while its poorest people remained marginalized and excluded, he said, underlining the need to change the world economic order in order to ensure that everybody benefited, rather than a select number of elites.  Measures of poverty should take levels of inequality into account from the perspective of economic, social and citizen rights, he said.

GONZALEZ PENA (Cuba), associating himself with the Group of 77, CELAC and AOSIS, said the current international economic order was deeply unjust and unsustainable.  It had the increasingly profound effect of marginalizing many nations in the global South.  Hunger, extreme poverty, illiteracy, lack of sanitation and premature death remained constant in many countries, and more than 80 per cent of the world’s population survived on less than one dollar a day, he said, adding that one billion people lived in extreme poverty.  Those statistics stood in stark contrast to data on the developed world, he noted.  Cuba believed firmly in South‑South cooperation and international solidarity, sharing its modest resources with other nations through international cooperation, he said, emphasizing that humanity’s survival would depend on social justice, equality and respect for the rights of all peoples.

LOT DZONZI (Malawi), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, expressed concern that poverty remained a hurdle to sustainable development, despite the progress made in reducing poverty numbers from 17.8 per cent of the world population in 2008 to 10.7 per cent in 2013.  In Africa, levels of extreme poverty remained very high despite the drop in the proportion of people living on less than $1.90 per day from 44.8 per cent in 2008 to 39.2 per cent in 2013.  Malawi’s poverty rates had exceeded 70 per cent in 2013, he recalled, adding that it had made great strides in reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS as well as maternal and child mortality.  However, challenges remained in unemployment, particularly for young people, he said.  Addressing them would require consistent and reliable resources that would facilitate technological diversification, economic expansion and increased industrialization, he emphasized.  The Government promoted women’s participation at all levels, and embraced the need to improve their terms and conditions by facilitating reconciliation with unpaid care work and eliminating gender discrimination in the labour market.  He also urged inclusive action to address issues relating to water, energy, resilient housing, sustainable consumption and production patterns as well as sustainable ecosystems and partnerships.