Conventional Weapons — ‘Drenched in Innocent Blood’ — Inflict Untold Suffering, Enable Malicious Acts to Take Root Anywhere
Military Application of New Technologies Amplifies Force, Expands Conflicts
Conventional arms, the so-called “weapons of limited destruction”, claimed hundreds of thousands of lives around the globe each year, and their horrendous impact was widespread and devastating for humanity, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today, concluding its thematic debate on conventional weapons and opening its discussion on other disarmament measures and international security, as well as on regional security.
The Permanent Observer of the Holy See, quoting Pope Francis, said: “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood”. The illegal weapons trade, asserted the Permanent Observer, undergirded, enabled malicious actions to take root anywhere.
Indeed, said Gabon’s representative, the unspeakable suffering caused by conventional weapons had become commonplace. They were used in mass killings, both in times of conflict and in times of peace. Estimated at 1 billion or more, they killed indiscriminately, either to impose the rule of armed groups, or for extortion and destabilization. Criminals often used them to enrol child soldiers or for the sexual exploitation of girls. Those weapons’ size and weight, as well as the porous nature of borders, scuttled efforts to control them.
In Lao People’s Democratic Republic, more than 30 per cent of the 270 million cluster sub-munitions dropped on its soil during the Indochina War had failed to detonate upon impact, said that country’s speaker. Unexploded ordnance continued to kill and maim innocent civilians — especially children — while hampering socioeconomic development and poverty eradication. Angola, said its speaker, had more than 1,000 minefields scattered over an area of more than 70 million square feet, requiring $285 million for mine-removal operations.
When the Committee opened its debate on other disarmament measures and international security, the representative of Pakistan warned that the military application of new and emerging technologies outpaced the application of existing principles and norms. The new weapons systems, even as they reduced or eliminated risk of human casualties for the user, amplified aspects of force, multiplication and asymmetry, and States would be tempted to mitigate the military advantages of adversaries by asymmetrical means. The spiral of reprisal perpetuating or expanding conflicts was a foregone conclusion.
Ukraine had become the first nation in the world to find itself in a full-fledged cyberwar, said its representative. The country had faced unprecedented numbers of cyberoperations against its critical infrastructure, mostly carried out by the Russian Federation. Since February, the Government, local authorities, commercial and financial institutions, security, defence, energy and transport sectors all had been subjected to cyberattacks. Without mechanisms to detect attacks and ensure accountability, international efforts would be in vain.
The representative of the Netherlands said that information and communication technology (ICT), in particular, artificial intelligence, represented the next frontier in arms control. As the world’s reliance on ICT grew, the threat of disruptive acts by States and non-State actors grew as well. The Netherlands would host a summit in The Hague on responsible artificial intelligence in the military domain to elaborate a common agenda and ensure deployment within the parameters of existing international humanitarian law.
Also speaking on conventional weapons were representatives of Mali, Eswatini, Uruguay, Israel, Ireland, Slovenia, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Mozambique, Chile, Belarus and Iran. An observer for the State of Palestine also spoke.
Exercising the right of reply on that topic were representatives of the Russian Federation, Israel and Iran.
Speaking on the theme of other disarmament measures and international security were Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Belize (on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Philippines (on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Iraq (on behalf of the Arab Group), Indonesia, United States, Egypt, France, Australia, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, South Africa, Austria, Italy, Russian Federation, Malaysia, China, Estonia, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Senegal, Algeria, United Kingdom, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Armenia, India, El Salvador, Republic of Korea, Türkey, Japan, Cuba, Kuwait, Switzerland, Romania, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Myanmar and Iran, as well as the European Union, in its capacity as observer.
The Permanent Observer for the Holy See also addressed the Committee on that topic.
Exercising the right of reply on other disarmament measures and international security were representatives of the Russian Federation, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China, Israel, France and Iran.
Speaking on the theme of regional disarmament were Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement) and Belize (on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)).
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 25 October, to continue its thematic debates on other disarmament measures and international security, and regional security.
KANISSON COULIBALY (Mali) said that the illicit spread of conventional weapons in the hands of terrorist groups and non-State entities was at the root of the security crisis in the central and northern regions of Mali. The situation remained a major obstacle to development, particularly the fight against poverty and disease, as well as access to health and education, gender promotion, and more. In addition, security constraints impacted implementation of the peace agreement. Combating the illicit arms trade and circulation could only be effective if it were carried out in synergy, within the framework of consultation and cooperation, with hardest-hit countries. Mali had made commendable efforts to strengthen the capacities of its defence and security forces to defeat extremism. Within the multilateral framework, he called for the full cooperation of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) with the Malian Defense and Security Forces.
MDUDUZI KIETH KENNETH MBINGO (Eswatini), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, urged Member States from developed economies to render more technical and financial assistance to developing countries, such as Eswatini, in order to realize the objectives of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and the International Tracing Instrument. Doing so would promote national and regional initiatives to eradicate the illicit small arms and light weapons trade. He also encouraged States parties to the Arms Trade Treaty to implement that instrument in a balanced and objective manner in a way that protected the interests of all States and not just the major international producing and exporting States.
MATÍAS ANDRÉS EUSTATHIOU DE LOS SANTOS (Uruguay), noting that there was no universally accepted normative framework to deal with conventional weapons, urged tackling the issues of security from a life‑cycle approach to their management, starting with their production. Echoing the calls of other countries in his region, he said the measures must be identified and promoted to ensure proper safeguard and security at all stages of munitions management, from production to elimination. There was a problem in particular with small arms and light weapons’ traceability. In addition to an integrated focus, there must be international cooperation and assistance, which provided countries with the technological means to control national arsenals and guarantee sustainability. Regarding the impact of the small arms and light weapons trade on achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he spotlighted Goals 5 and 16 and called for particular emphasis on the fundamental role of women in disarmament, arms control and international security. Technical assistance and funding also were critical for developing countries.
BENJAMIN SHARONI (Israel) said that in the Middle East, conventional weapons were acquired in unprecedented quantities and qualities, and landed in the hands of oppressive regimes, terrorist organizations, and terrorist-sponsoring States. Underscoring the importance of compliance and implementation, he said that the International Tracing Istrument and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons were vital collective efforts in achieving a safer world. Israel provided its reports to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, Programme of Action, Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and its Protocol II. It had joined the Mine Ban Convention as an observer and instituted a moratorium on their export until July 2023. Regarding the open-ended working group on through-life ammunition management, future political commitments should respect legal systems, and ammunition management should be based on national norms and non-binding in nature. As an Arms Trade Treaty signatory State party, Israel had robust export control measures, which reflected the Treaty. In the Middle East, arms were deliberately transferred to non-State actors and terrorist-sponsoring States, which used civilians as human shields and perpetuated indiscriminate attacks. Combating their diversion to unauthorized recipients was of paramount importance. He commended the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons as a unique forum and underlined the importance of a balance between military and humanitarian considerations.
CÁIT MORAN (Ireland), associating herself with the European Union, spotlighted the high-level international conference to be held in Dublin on 18 November, where representatives of the international community will endorse the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences arising from Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas. It aims to reduce the harm caused to civilians by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. It does not establish a prohibition on the use of any specific weapon or create any new legal obligations. Rather, it recognizes the significant humanitarian issues associated with the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, acknowledges the need to address that problem and outlines a framework for turning commitments into action. “Put simply, these actions will help prevent and reduce civilian suffering,” she said, adding that it is inspiring that, amidst the most difficult international security environment since the cold war, States, international organizations and civil society have come together to agree on this Political Declaration, for which the Secretary-General has consistently appealed.
BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia), associating with the European Union, called on all States to refrain from transferring arms to those States, including the Russian Federation, which violate the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Slovenia strongly condemned that country’s use of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive weapons against civilians in Ukraine. He stressed the importance of taking a gender‑sensitive approach in implementing the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons, adding that the outcome of the Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems should take into account ethical considerations. He described the assistance provided by Slovenia to landmine victims, including in Lebanon where an income‑generating programme would soon begin to help the victims and their families. Slovenia drew inspiration from the life and work of bees, which worked together as one, united in a common goal, and urged Member States to do so, as well.
MARIA DE JESUS DOS REIS FERREIRA (Angola), associating with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that her country has undertaken steps to destroy all anti-personnel mines on its territory by 2025. Mines remain an obstacle to the socioeconomic development of post-conflict States, two thirds of which are developing countries, she noted. Angola has created an agency responsible for implementing its commitments under relevant international agreements, based on a national strategy for action against anti-personnel mines, in cooperation with national and international partners. With 1,092 minefields still scattered over an area of more than 73 million square feet, Angola required $285 million for de-mining and mine-removal operations throughout the country, as well as technical assistance.
SOULIYONG SO INXAY (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), spotlighted his country’s traumatic experience with the development and humanitarian impacts of conventional weapons. As such, his country was a party to the major relevant international instruments and strongly supported conventional weapons control and disarmament. More than 30 per cent of the 270 million cluster sub‑munitions dropped on his country’s soil from the Indochina War had failed to detonate upon impact. Unexploded ordnance continued to kill and maim innocent civilians ‑ especially children ‑ while hampering socioeconomic development and poverty eradication. To overcome those challenges, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic had integrated the Convention on Cluster Munitions obligations into its national strategy for unexploded ordnance. The international community should continue its support and cooperation to ensure safety of all and the right to development.
JOAN MARGARITA CEDANO (Dominican Republic), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and Austria’s statement on lethal autonomous weapons, said that her country had been impacted by small arms and light weapons in criminal acts. Their illicit trafficking and widespread availability threatened international peace and fueled armed violence, undermining human rights, contributing to transnational organized crime, and impeding sustainable development. The Dominican Republic was committed to combatting that scourge by strengthening control measures and institutions, and building capacity in full compliance with the Programme of Action, International Tracing Instrument and Arms Trade Treaty. Domestically, weapons possession requirements had increased and voluntary firearm surrendering was promoted. She welcomed the open‑ended working group on conventional ammunition and pointed to the need to increase cooperation and assistance in the areas of financing, capacity‑building, technology transfers, and exchanging best practices. Incorporating the gender perspectives into international arms control frameworks was inescapable as those weapons directly contributed to the intensity of gender-based violence. She urged discussions on conventional weapons‑related new technologies, including 3D-printing and “dark web” international transfers.
JOSÉ EDUARDO PEREIRA SOSA (Paraguay) underscored the destabilizing effects of the illicit arms trade and their use by non-State had on regions, institutions, and society. The effective control of conventional weapons weakened criminal organizations, and towards that goal, Paraguay participated in international and regional instruments. That cooperation, not only enhanced capacities and technology transfers, but also was vital for the implementation of joint policies, strategies and programmes. While more must be done to include the regional concerns of Latin America, he spotlighted work under way that recognized the differentiated impact of those weapons on women, girls and boys, responded to recent technological changes and designs, and provided support for developing countries through scholarships. A comprehensive approach must be undertaken which strengthened the complementary relationship with the Programme of Action and the needs of each country and region.
ANTONIO CARLOS (Mozambique), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his Government conducts public‑awareness campaigns and workshops to publicize measures and strategies on small arms and light weapons. Mozambique is a member of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization, which coordinates all measures aimed at combating arms trafficking. Furthermore, in August 2021, Mozambique signed an agreement amending the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Firearms and Ammunition, making it possible to include conventional weapons in a harmonized way and to integrate modern threats linked to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. He recalled that Mozambique was declared free of landmines in 2015, adding that the Government helps mine survivors by providing social assistance, health care and economic inclusion measures.
JORGE VIDAL (Chile), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and with Austria on lethal autonomous weapons, reiterated the importance of Member State’s actions in ending small arms and light weapons trafficking, eliminating the threat of improvised explosive devices, and promoting transparency. Member States must deliver on the Arms Trade Treaty and all other instruments which prohibit or restrict the use of some conventional weapons. He also urged the need to address technology-related challenges. He spotlighted his country’s legislative efforts to create a strategic trade commission and to control the exports of dual-use and defence material in line with Security Council resolution 1540 (2004). Regarding illegal firearms trafficking, he called for a regional security perspective in combating criminal networks. There must be cooperation, communication and interaction among the public bodies responsible for law enforcement and arms control at the national and regional levels. The continued flow of illegal weapons to countries in conflict fuelled the armed violence, prevented peace and perpetuated the violation of civilian rights, especially of young people and women.
SIARHEI MAKAREVICH (Belarus) called for better management of small arms and light weapons, noting that poor management of stockpiles can lead to unexpected explosions and catastrophic consequences for civilians. Preservation and security require concentrating on practical measures throughout the life cycle of the weapons, taking into account the interests of all States. The logical conclusion of the Committee’s work will be the development of a global mechanism for stockpile management, with constructive steps forward only being possible through comprehensive consensus, he said.
HEIDAR ALI BALOUJI (Iran), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Charter’s Article 51 enshrined States’ sovereign and inherent right to conventional arms for self-defence and security, and conventional arms arrangements should reflect that. He noted the remarkable achievements of existing relevant global processes like the Programme of Action and International Tracing Instrument. Achieving their goals required implementation of commitments on financial support and technology transfers. In that regard, he welcomed the fellowship for developing countries. Moreover, he hoped the open-ended working group on ammunition would reach a consensus outcome on through-life ammunition, accommodating all its members’ concerns and applying previous non-binding recommendations on small arms and light weapons in observance of States’ sovereign prerogatives. He raised the alarm regarding massive transfers and accumulations and unprecedented military spending, particularly by the United States. The Middle East was a worsening example: last year, Israel had spent $24.3 billion on its military. The United States remained the biggest arms seller in the region.
Mr. MOUSSOTS (Gabon) stated that the unspeakable suffering caused by the use of conventional weapons, unfortunately, had become commonplace. Those weapons, which were true weapons of mass destruction, were used in mass killings in times of conflict and even in times of peace. Estimated at 1 billion or more, they were killing indiscriminately, either to impose the rule of armed groups, for economic predation, extortion or destabilization of institutions. The trade of those weapons by criminal organizations was often used to support the enrollment of child soldiers and was associated with the drug trade and the sexual exploitation of girls. Their size and weight, as well as the porous nature of borders, scuttled efforts to control them, thus undermining the laudable attempts made by Member States, the United Nations and even several non‑governmental organizations. At the Central African level, leaders adopted the Central African Convention, or Kinshasa Convention, for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and all Parts and Components that can be used in their Manufacture, Repair and Assembly. That convention was an integral part of the subregional strategy against terrorism and illicit small arms and light weapons flows.
QAIS KASABRI, observer for the State of Palestine, associating himself with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, underlined that weapons of mass destruction pose an existential threat to humanity, but it is conventional weapons that kill most civilians around the world. The State of Palestine has acceded to all instruments relating to the prohibition of weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms conventions, and it is also a party to the Arms Trade Treaty. He noted that those commitments were made to end the suffering endured by the Palestinian people as a result of the use of illegal weapons and the unlawful use of conventional weapons by Israel and its armed settlers. The rapid development of autonomous weapons systems poses ethical, legal, humanitarian, moral and international peace-and-security-related challenges that require the urgent development of a legally binding instrument, he stressed, citing the Joint Statement on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems delivered by Austria on behalf of 70 States, including his own.
GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said that those so-called “weapons of limited destruction” yearly claimed hundreds of thousands of lives around the globe and their horrendous impact was widespread and devastating for humanity. In the hands of terrorists, organized crime, gangs and groups that trafficked human beings, narcotics and protected wildlife, the illegal weapons trade, undergirded, enabled malicious actions to take root everywhere. There was a deep connection between the eradication of that appalling spread and integral human development and peace. The duty to confront the problem of illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons should be a concern for the entire international community. Quoting Pope Francis, he said: “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.”
Right of Reply
The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, categorically rejected Western countries’ groundless insinuations regarding the alleged Iranian transfer of unmanned aerial vehicles to the Russian Federation, which would be in violation of Security Council resolution 2231 (2015). Washington, D.C., unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2018 and was now inventing another convenient excuse to definitively dismantle the deal. Those irresponsible actions would inevitably increase tensions in the Persian Gulf region. No good would come from such near-sighted activities. Western countries, having already appointed the alleged perpetrators and imposed unilateral sanctions against them, were now actively lobbying the United Nations Secretariat to conduct some “impartial investigation” in violation of the Charter.
He said that the prize for such investigations was well-known, as the world witnessed when the United Kingdom, United States and France committed an act of aggression against Syria and pressured the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon’s (OPCW) Technical Secretariat to retrospectively concoct an excuse for their illegal acts. As a result, OPCW’s credibility was undermined. The Technical Secretariat refused to give any explanations on the disclosed cases of pressures on the staff of the inspection group and its Director General. It ignored four invitations over the last two years by the Council’s presidency to participate in meetings and used all possible gimmicks to avoid responsibility for its actions, which satisfied Washington, D.C., Paris and London. In that regard, the Russian Federation expected from the United Nations Secretariat to comprehensively confirm that it did not intend to violate the Charter. Otherwise, the Russian Federation would draw the appropriate conclusions regarding its impartiality and could reconsider all relevant relations with it.
The representative of Israel, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that he was compelled to take the floor following remarks made by the representatives of Iran and the Palestinian Authority, which Israel clearly rejected. Iran was attempting to gain regional dominance and spread its extremist ideology. It was the biggest proliferator of conventional arms in the region and beyond, using proxy organizations to spreading terror, and engaging in hostilities. Iran was creating hubs with missile capabilities in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Iran was clearly working against the international community to bring about the collapse of arms control. Since its independence, Israel was threatened on a daily basis by terrorist organizations that sought its destruction. Perhaps the representative of the Palestinian Authority could have referred to the ways in which the Palestinian Authority could play a role in preventing arms from reaching the hands of terrorists that aimed to kill innocent Israelis.
The representative of Iran said he was compelled to take the floor to reject the allegations made by the Israeli representative against his country. His position remained the same, that the Israeli regime was the number-one violator of all international regulations with regard to human rights and disarmament and arms control in the Middle East, and the main source of regional threat and insecurity.
Other Disarmament Measures and International Security
Ms. WERDANINTYAS (Indonesia), on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, noted the positive benefits of ICT contribution to development, and encouraged States to adopt norms on responsible behaviour in cyberspace. She rejected the malicious use of ICT, including on the Internet, social networks and social media, which threatened State security. Cyberspace must not become an area of conflict. She noted the work of the group of government experts on ICT and recalled the first inclusive, consensus-based mechanism of the open-ended working group, established by the General Assembly. Only inclusive mechanisms that took all States’ interests into account and provided for equal participation should be pursued.
She said the Movement believed that nothing in the legal framework should affect States’ inalienable right to ICT science and know-how for peaceful purposes. She condemned the misuse of ICT to incite and commit acts of terrorism and underscored the importance of confidence- and capacity-building measures to enhance cybersecurity. Moreover, international disarmament forums should take environmental norms into account. She welcomed the General Assembly resolution on the relationship between disarmament and development. She rejected the increasing spending for military purposes instead of on development. Lastly, she introduced three draft resolutions, for which she sought universal support: observance of environment norms in disarmament and arms control agreements (document A/77/C.1/L.4), relationship between disarmament and development (document A/77/C.1/L.5) and promotion of multilateralism in disarmament and non-proliferation (document A/77/C.1/L.8).
CARLOS FULLER (Belize), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the many crises facing the global community had heightened the need for more collaborative partnerships. No Member State could achieve security independently, he said, adding that the ongoing consideration of gender perspectives could further contribute to disarmament, with no woman, man, boy or girl being left behind. Gender and disarmament should be a core and cross-cutting item on the Committee’s agenda, he said, voicing support for the draft resolution on the topic being introduced by Trinidad and Tobago (document A/77/C.1/L18).
He highlighted the work being done at the regional level to harmonize approaches and build networks to address the conditions which lead to violent extremism and terrorism. Furthermore, the international community should remain vigilant in understanding emerging weapon technologies, he added, also encouraging States to implement norms on responsible behaviour in cyberspace. He underscored the challenge that armed violence represents in CARICOM member States and how that scourge diverted resources from development. Developing countries were more negatively affected by the trade and use of arms, yet small island developing States were underrepresented in disarmament forums, he continued. That must be addressed, he said, welcoming the draft resolution on disarmament and development (document A/77/C.1/L.5).
ARIEL RODELAS PEÑARANDA (Philippines), on behalf of ASEAN and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized the United Nation’s central role in cybersecurity discussions and the need for an open, peaceful, and resilient cyberspace. He was disappointed that the Committee had been unable to achieve consensus on a cybersecurity resolution this year, unlike last year, and called for working together to avoid parallel mechanisms overwhelming the United Nations and finite resources of small and developing countries. The open‑ended working work on Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) was a confidence‑ and consensus‑building measure, and he looked forward to continued progress. The persuasive and constantly evolving nature of cyberthreats required coordinated expertise from multiple stakeholders across different domains and borders.
In his region, those efforts were guided by the ASEAN Digital Master Plan, the ASEAN Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy, and the ASEAN Cybersecurity Coordinating Committee to provide secure cyberspace for the region’s digital economy and community. International cooperation and capacity-building were important to allow States, especially developing countries, to effectively implement the 11 voluntary, non-binding norms on responsible State behaviour in ICT. The ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus Experts Working Group on Cybersecurity had developed a glossary of cyber‑terminologies, established points of contact and technical personnel directories, conducted table‑top exercises, and set up a portal. ASEAN was committed to be future‑ready for any security challenges and achieve the world’s shared goal of a peaceful, secure, and resilient cyberspace.
SARMAD MUWAFAQ MOHAMMED AL-TAIE (Iraq), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, expressed grave concern at the increase in world tensions and military expenditures. A large part of the military spending could be used to promote sustainable development and eradicate poverty, in particular, in developing countries. He reaffirmed the importance of following up implementation of the work programme adopted at the 1987 international conference on the link between disarmament and development. He also urged consideration of the impact of the increased military expenditure. On the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said the continued acquisition and modernization of nuclear weapons posed the gravest threats to international peace and security and to sustainable development. Also worrying was the destructive use of ICT, including by criminal and terrorist groups. He supported the central role of the United Nations in addressing that as well as the development of a system of international norms, as ICT now affected all critical infrastructure of all States.
Ms. KORFF, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said that cyberspace was increasingly misused as a form of hybrid warfare. The Russian Federation’s aggression had been accompanied by increasingly malicious cyber activities which targeted entities globally, she said, warning of the spillover effects of such attacks. Given that strategic environment, with States attempting to gain advantage, there was an important role to play for the United Nations, the open‑ended working group on information and communications technology and the group of governmental experts. The Organization should lead the way and promote dialogue, she said, welcoming the consensus reached on the working group’s annual progress report. Together with confidence- and capacity‑building measures, such efforts created a framework and foundation for further progress, she said, expressing regret, however, that non‑governmental organizations had not been allowed access to the process.
Given the current environment, she said, there should be dialogue among all Member States on responsible State behaviour on ICT. The European Union supported the draft resolution on a programme of action to that end. The text (document A/77/C.1/L.73) did not seek to establish a parallel process, but rather to foster inclusive discussion and pave a way forward after the mandate of the open‑ended working group was complete, she explained.
MARIA BENEDICTA DIAH KRISTANTI (Indonesia), speaking in her national capacity and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, called for strengthening existing multilateral frameworks and norms on ICT use. In noting that the United Nations Charter, international law and existing cyber norms provided the fundamental framework to guide States and strengthen trust and predictability, she emphasized the Organization’s central role in addressing challenges and gaps. The working group must facilitate cooperation and transparency while strengthening the global emergency response to threats in the ICT environment. Bilateral, regional and global efforts should mutually strengthen the ICT security environment and facilitate confidence- and capacity-building. There must be a single, inclusive and consensual process on ICT security under the auspices of the United Nations that avoided overlap and duplication. As the private sector owned and administered the most critical ICT infrastructure, Governments must engage with stakeholders to strengthen trust and collaboration.
BRUCE I. TURNER (United States) said that, for more than 20 years, Member States have worked on conflict prevention in cyberspace, with the United States engaging in good faith throughout. This year, however, the Russian Federation challenged that effort with its attack on Ukraine, its violations of international law and its repeated use of cyberattacks. “But, we will not let Russia’s obstructionism hinder our work on cyberissues,” he asserted. Those States which seek better international cyber stability can find valuable guidance in the framework for responsible State behaviour in cyberspace, a text that will also make it possible to hold irresponsible States accountable for their cyberbehaviour. “We must persevere despite the disruptive actions of malign actors,” he said, supporting the Chair’s draft decision to welcome the report of the Open-ended Working Group. Turning to the Russian Federation’s draft cyber-resolution, he said that it seeks to take advantage of Member States support for the Open-ended Working Group’s progress report to push its own agenda and assert ownership over the process. “We cannot support this text,” he said, stating that it serves no purpose but to reinterpret the work of the Open-Ended Working Group and to duplicate the draft decision that welcomes its report, he said.
ABDELRHMAN MOHAMED FARID HEGAZY (Egypt), associating with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated that non-discriminatory multilateral legally binding instruments were the most effective means for achieving sustainable disarmament and international security. The commitment by all States to previously agreed undertakings and international law was a precondition for maintaining international peace and security and avoiding chaos. The lack of progress in addressing security threats that arise in such domains is clearly not due to the lack of technical expertise, but rather to the continued misguided belief by some States that an absolute dominance in such domains could be maintained — thereby resisting any effort towards the development of equitable rules-based international regimes prohibiting the malicious uses and weaponization of such technologies, which would lead to an unwinnable arms race. He supported the ongoing open-ended working group, and welcomed the successful conclusion of its first annual cycle.
CAMILLE PETIT (France) stated that cybersecurity had become a major challenge, in a context where malicious cyber activities, carried out by both State and non‑State actors, were growing in intensity. France presented a draft resolution entitled Programme of Action to Promote Responsible State Behaviour in the Use of ICTs in the Context of International Security (document A/77/C.1/L.73). The programme of action proposal was based primarily on consensus language from the annual reports and resolutions on past and present cyber mechanisms. Thus, it did not create any new concepts. Rapid developments in technology and the dual‑use nature of sensitive equipment required intensified cooperation to prevent their misuse or misappropriation. That was the purpose of the export control regimes governing the legal transfer of dual-use items that could be used in the development or manufacture of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. A clear framework for the export of certain goods, technologies and equipment strengthened mutual confidence and facilitated access to goods and technologies for peaceful use, in full compliance with international non‑proliferation commitments.
HEATHER MCINTYRE (Australia), noting the shared responsibility to manage complex international security challenges in cyberspace, promote peace and avoid conflict, called on all States to meaningfully implement and faithfully observe the Framework for Responsible State Behaviour. As transparency bred accountability, predictability and stability, Australia would continue to publicly share the ways in which it implemented, interpreted and observed the Framework, she said, encouraging all States to do the same. Regarding the annual progress report, she spotlighted the application of international humanitarian law in cyberspace in situations of armed conflict. States should engage with the next steps recommended by the working group and find balance and consensus on cyber issues. She called for an institutionalized, inclusive, transparent, democratic, and consensus‑based United Nations mechanism to consider and address responsible State behaviour in cyberspace. Whatever the mechanism or architecture, it must be firmly anchored in the agreed Framework, and position Member States to address emerging threats and engage regularly with stakeholders.
ROBERT IN DEN BOSCH (Netherlands) emphasized the responsible use of ICT, in particular, artificial intelligence, which represented the next frontier in arms control. The Netherlands would host a summit in The Hague on responsible artificial intelligence in the military domain to elaborate a common agenda and ensure deployment within the parameters of existing international humanitarian law. He underlined the importance of security frameworks on technology transfers for peaceful use. As the world’s reliance on ICT grew, the threat of disruptive acts by State and non‑State actors grew. Welcoming the 2022 progress report of the open‑ended working group on ICT, which reaffirmed the evolving nature of the framework and provided concrete recommendations, he underlined the importance of furthering a common understanding, building trust, and incorporate gender perspectives in that work. Cyber-resilience required international cooperation and sharing of best practices. The Netherlands co‑sponsored the resolution on the Programme of Action on Responsible State Behavior in Cyberspace to build on the efforts of the open‑ended working group (document A/77/C.1/L.73).
KHALIL HASHMI (Pakistan) said that the military application of new and emerging technologies outpaced the application of existing principles and norms. There were increasing dangers arising from the use of the new weapons systems even as they reduced or eliminated risks of human casualties for the user. The possession of those systems increased the propensity of their use and the likelihood of symmetric and asymmetric responses, thereby lowering the threshold for armed conflict. As a result, risks and threats to peace, security, and stability at the global and regional levels were growing. Those weapons systems did not comprise one or two types of weapons, but a capability category with layers of unpredictability and cascading, destabilizing impacts on regional and international security. Those weapons also amplified aspects of force, multiplication, and asymmetry. Their growing autonomy, based on machine learning algorithms and increased speed of actions during operations, furthered the predictability of their behaviour. States would be tempted to mitigate the military advantage of adversaries by asymmetrical means. The spiral of reprisals perpetuating or expanding a conflict was a foregone conclusion. Yet rather than addressing those fundamental concerns, a handful of States were stalling meaningful progress on the normative track and overtly opposing the development of internationally agreed legal rules to govern the design, development and use of those weapons systems.
Ms. RUIZ (Philippines) said the multilateral disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control regime was an important component of the open, inclusive and rules-based international order, which had underpinned global peace, security, and stability since the founding of the United Nations. Any attempt to deny or redefine the common understanding of those principles must be rejected. To maintain the integrity of that regime, it was important that technical processes remained expert-driven and beyond the reach of politicization, while also remaining inclusive.
She said that the Philippines had consistently raised its concern regarding the tabling of competing resolutions on the same subject, leading to fragmentation in the Committee’s work. Rather than choosing which resolution to support, Member States often decided to support both, resulting in duplicative and competing mechanisms and processes that strained the United Nations finite resources. Sponsors of such texts should exert every effort to arrive at an agreement with each other on unified resolutions, ensuring the Committee’s efficiency and effectiveness, leading to credible and collective action that addressed outstanding issues on disarmament, peace and security in a timely manner.
NICHABOON ANGKERDCHOK (Thailand), associating with ASEAN and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that a rules‑based cyberspace was an important enabler for peace. That required a common understanding that international law and a culture of accountability applied to cyberspace. Relevant mechanisms must be open, inclusive and action‑oriented, building on the work of the open‑ended working group and the group of governmental experts, but they should not duplicate current efforts, given the limited capacity of developing States. Capacity‑building was necessary to help States adhere to norms, strengthen their cyberresilience and protect their critical infrastructure, she said, underscoring the role played by regional bodies in that regard. She said the international community should not let the potential harm of ICT overshadow the benefits.
YASEEN LAGARDIEN (South Africa), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed concern over the growing threat of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure. Greater cooperation and the development of best practices should support national priorities and efforts to identify and designate such infrastructure, he said, adding that as States experience differing levels of risk, existing norms must be implemented and further developed. Prioritizing implementation would contribute to a better understanding of gaps, inform the need for the new norms and identify best practices and capacity‑building requirements. Regarding the elaboration of a programme of action, he recalled an earlier recommendation on the establishment of a mechanism to advance responsible State behaviour in the use of information and communications technology that would provide capacity support to States on implementing their commitments. A Member State‑driven process must engage all relevant actors, including civil society and the private sector, to understand and address the threats posed by State and non‑State actors.
DANIEL ANDREAS ROETHLIN (Austria), said the importance of cybersecurity had grown. The increased attention of the United Nations to cybersecurity was welcome, as was the open-ended working group’s report, which set out recommendations for its future work. However, a large number of important stakeholders had been barred from participating in its work due to unsubstantiated vetoes, with negative effects on the work. Austria would continue to advocate for an open, free and stable cyberspace, based on full application of international law, including international human rights law. More remained to be done, especially insofar as the exact scope of international law, and capacity- and confidence-building. Existing good practices should be examined. He voiced support for a programme of action.
He said that the resolutions under consideration covered important issues too long neglected, including disarmament education. The past years had seen the world, not only grapple with the global pandemic, but also with the consequences of climate change. The world must move away from the dangerous misconception that security could only be ensured by military and armaments. Disarmament instruments and measures must be better integrated into security. Undiminished and increased security could only be achieved through concrete disarmament and the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
PIETRO DE MARTIN TOPRANIN (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, described information and communications technologies and the internet as great human achievements that require international cooperation to prevent any dangerous or negative use. Expressing full support for the related draft decision, he said that it is important to recognize that, together with the intensification and evolution of those technologies, threats have increased. These issues were particularly pressing in the current geopolitical environment, he said, citing the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine. He underscored the importance of protecting digital infrastructure against malicious interference and expressed support for the proposal to establish a programme of action for advancing responsible State behaviour in cyberspace.
VLADIMIR SHIN (Russian Federation) said that his delegation has, as in years past, submitted a draft resolution titled “Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security”, aimed at consolidating the success achieved by the Open-Ended Working Group and to steer that body towards further constructive negotiations. The text is unifying, non-confrontational and depoliticized in nature, and based on General Assembly resolutions previously agreed by Member States. “The objective is to safeguard the Group as the key negotiating platform dealing with the whole range of issues of international information security under the auspices of the Organization, and to prevent splitting up this topic to parallel formats duplicating one another.” Its adoption was crucial this year when a group of States had submitted another draft resolution, which basically proposed to create an alternative to the Open‑Ended Working Group format. “We see this as another attempt to hijack the Group’s activities, to politicize the negotiations and to impose on the international community a premature decision on the format of future work in this area,” he said, calling that approach totally unacceptable.
He said it appeared that those sponsoring a programme of action were trying to advance a format that corresponded to the interests of Western countries, with the decisions of a narrow group of States being imposed on the others. For as much as it has been watered down, the programme of action was no different than “a manifesto to cybercolonialism”. A vote in favour of the Russian Federation’s draft resolution was not a vote for the Russian Federation, but rather a vote to continue constructive inter-State dialogue and results-oriented negotiations.
SYED MOHAMAD HASRIN AIDID (Malaysia) stated that the contemporary reliance on ICT, unparalleled in human history, was a stark reminder of the nature of the attendant challenges and the importance of collective action to address them. The increasing complexity and sophistication of emerging threats in cyberspace was cause for concern. Last year, Malaysia had been pleased to co-sponsor General Assembly resolution 76/19, which, among other things, underlined support for the open-ended working group. Its adoption without a vote had signified a common commitment by the United Nations membership to address ICT issues under a single platform, after several years of fractious argument over different mechanisms. In the present session, there had been recriminations by various delegations over the underlying intention and substantive merit of proposals put forward. He hoped that the concerned parties would make every effort to engage constructively with each other and to prevent the hard-won unraveling of consensus, which, however fragile, helped further efforts by the working group.
LI SONG (China) said ICT’s peaceful use and cooperation was the inalienable right of all countries, but the right of developing countries was far from guaranteed, owing to export restrictions and more. He called for the international community to respond to their call. China had again submitted the draft resolution on peaceful use of ICT, augmented by other countries’ suggestions (document A/77/C.1/L.56). As reflected in the resolution, non‑proliferation and peaceful use were not enemies, but went hand in hand. He called on developing countries to support it and on Western countries not to impede the process. All parties should place the international community’s public good above their own political interests and practice true multilateralism. Major countries, in particular, should contribute to a cooperative, peaceful, and open cyberspace and not fragment the Internet. The Internet’s future should be jointly shaped by all countries. He called for full respect of the open‑ended working group’s authority as the only ICT security process, in line with the General Assembly resolution, and for avoiding the establishment of a programme of action outside of it.
KATRI LŌHMUS (Estonia) said efforts to manage threats emanating from the malicious use of cyberspace were of utmost importance. Since February, the Russian Federation’s brutal aggression against Ukraine, alongside its kinetic warfare, had been using malicious cyberoperations against critical infrastructure and essential services, as well as disinformation campaigns. Estonia strongly condemned those operations, as a deliberate disregard for the United Nations Framework of Responsible State Behavior. International law was fully applicable to State behaviour in cyberspace. Member States had agreed that they should not conduct or knowingly support ICT activity contrary to their international law obligations in a way that intentionally damaged critical infrastructure or otherwise impaired the use and operation of that infrastructure to provide services to the public.
She said that Estonia highly valued the work of the open‑ended working group and welcomed the adoption of its annual progress report, which signaled the need and willingness of the United Nations membership to further discuss the development and application of norms of responsible State behaviour. States should continue constructive discussions towards a mutual understanding on how to effectively mitigate cyber threats and contribute to building global cyber resilience. Estonia strongly supported the establishment of a permanent, inclusive and action‑oriented action programme, and underlined the inherent multi‑stakeholder nature of cyberspace.
MD RAFIQUL ALAM MOLLA (Bangladesh), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Internet should be a global public good that benefitted everyone without discrimination. The international community, therefore, must develop a secure, safe and open environment for ICT, which was underpinned by international law. No single country could respond to the threat of cyberattacks alone, he said, adding that the only hope for a free, secure and stable digital environment was through multilateralism, with the United Nations playing a leading role in the development of cybernorms.
PAPA SAMBA DIACK (Senegal), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, called for consensus to ensure a balance between recognizing the legality of countermeasures in response to cyberattacks, particularly to protect countries which lack technological expertise, and controlling their use so that they did not cause conflicts in cyberspace. Hence the relevance of capacity‑building, which is a major challenge, especially for developing countries, he said. Cybersecurity measures should not be enacted to restrict digital development or to curb innovation and the development opportunities offered by information and communications technology. As a means of preventing and combating the malicious uses of cyberspace, those measures should have as their sole purpose the promotion of an accessible, secure, peaceful and prosperous digital environment that leaves no one behind, he added.
ANATOLII ZLENKO (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, said that the internet is no longer a comfortable communication platform, but also a real weapon in the hands of hackers, criminals, State actors, and their proxies. Since 2014, Ukraine has faced unprecedented numbers of cyber operations against its critical infrastructure, mostly carried out by the Russian Federation, he said, adding that since February, the Government, local authorities, commercial and financial institutions, and security, defence, energy and transport sectors were all subjected to cyberattacks. Ukraine became the first nation in the world to find itself in a full‑fledged cyber war, he added. Despite this, Ukraine, with help from Western partners, has strengthened its cybersecurity system. Ensuring accountability for cyberattacks is important, but international efforts will be in vain without mechanisms to detect such attacks and to bring individuals and States to justice, he said, adding that his delegation is co‑sponsoring the draft resolution on a programme of action on advancing responsible State behavior in cyberspace.
NAZIM KHALDI (Algeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, called for a collective response to the evolving threats emanating from the malicious use of ICT and to the increasing number of cyberattacks on States’ critical infrastructure. He welcomed the launch of the Open-Ended Working Group, spotlighting its significance towards international cooperation on an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful environment in this field. While much remains to be done, this Working Group offers a unique forum in which to understand the relevant challenges and to work collectively to overcome them. He went on to stress that the international community’s ability to prevent or mitigate the impact of the malicious use of such technology depends on the capacity of each State to prepare and respond, underlining the urgent need to build and strengthen State capacity in this domain.
ELIZABETH LOUISE PAGE (United Kingdom) said it was right that the Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group had tabled a Decision to provide a pathway to consensus adoption of that body’s annual progress report. All States should support that approach and stay true to the good work done together. The United Kingdom was a responsible cyberpower, committed to upholding our shared framework for responsible State behaviour in cyberspace through positive action, she said. When States abused the framework, it had real-world impacts and all responsible State actors should end all such malign activities. Discussing the multilateral export control regimes, she said that they provided a level of end-use assurance, giving States the confidence to transfer technology and facilitating exports around the world. However, the United Kingdom was concerned by the continuing efforts by some States to undermine and discredit these crucial regimes, she said.
AMMAR ADNAN SHAMRAN ALBAI (Iraq), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that promoting the universality of disarmament treaties and controls is the only guarantee to avoiding the catastrophic consequences that can result from the use of weapons of mass destruction. Therefore, agreements in the international multilateral framework must be renewed and implemented, and the pivotal role of the United Nations in the field of non-proliferation and disarmament must be guaranteed. He expressed concern over current, spiralling regional and international crises, noting that they contributed to the increased use of information and communications technology in activities that threaten regional and international peace and security. In response, the United Nations must continue to develop a comprehensive, mandated code of responsible State behaviour, he said, adding that relevant controls must evolve at a speed that matches developments in that area.
SUGEESHWARA GUNARATNA (Sri Lanka), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that technology was a “useful servant but a dangerous master”. The pandemic transformed Governments and organizations’ traditional functioning, but with those developments, cyberattacks had emerged as a leading vulnerability of critical digital infrastructure. It was necessary to intensify global efforts to set international standards and develop cyber risk-management frameworks to establish good governance and a regulatory environment within cyberspace, he said, noting the progress made by the open-ended working group. He condemned any misuse of ICT as it harmed all structures — social, economic and political — and became a tool of divisiveness rather than a bridge that brought the world and its peoples closer. The implementation of norms and compliance with agreements were vital to ensure a safe and secure cyberspace. The regrettable reduction of consensus-driven cooperation would only embolden the misuse of cyberspace by terrorists, violent extremists and other malicious actors aiming to disrupt users’ safety.
SASUN HOVHANNISYAN (Armenia) said that the growing use of social networks to disseminate animosity and encourage hate crimes on ethnic or religious grounds was a dangerous trend, which, if not addressed, could lead to grave breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Noting that the theme of the fourth Global Forum against the Crime of Genocide, taking place in Armenia on 12 and 13 December, was “Prevention of genocide in the era of new technologies”, he said that the principles and norms of international law in their entirety should form the basis for responsible State behaviour in cyberspace. In that regard, regional organizations had an important role to play. He noted the ongoing work undertaken by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) aimed at enhancing transparency, predictability and stability in the use of ICT.
SUBHASHINI NARAYANAN (India) said that the transfer of technology for peaceful uses should be done in accordance with relevant international obligations. She encouraged States to continue applying that development for disarmament‑related purposes and engage with relevant stakeholders from industry, academia and civil society. She stressed the need for effective regulation of the international transfers of dual‑use goods and technologies, as well as high technology with military application, in line with the legitimate defence requirements of all States. Recognizing the rapid development in biosciences and artificial intelligence, she underscored the need for an inter‑disciplinary approach. Having expressed support for the work of the open‑ended working group on security of and in the use of ICT, she discouraged the creation of a formal parallel process until the completion of the group’s work. She recognized the disparity in cyberpreparedness among States and the need to enhance capabilities, and proposed a global cyber‑security cooperation portal as a platform for capacity‑building and international cooperation.
JULIA ELIZABETH RODRÍGUEZ ACOSTA (El Salvador) said growing interconnectivity and the interdependence of ICT compelled all States to step up their knowledge on preventing their malicious use. For that reason, cybersecurity was a fundamental part of international security. Ransomware and other cyberattacks had serious implications for international security and laid bare the importance of strengthening cyberresilience. The active cooperation of the whole international community was necessary to combat that. The progress report of the Open-Ended Working Group was welcome, however, it did not claim to be an exhaustive summary of the Groups’ work, but, instead, to be a guide for future discussions. The confidence-building initiative could be a valuable source for exchange of experiences. El Salvador supported the draft for a programme of action on responsible State behaviour in that context, as a permanent action-oriented discussion mechanism for States. It was important to move towards a binding framework that would protect critical infrastructure and national assets from cyberthreats. El Salvador was pleased to have finished public consultations on cybersecurity law. The international community must be decisive in tackling those issues, she concluded.
HYUN GOO LEE (Republic of Korea) said technology advancement had brought with it vulnerability to cyberthreats. The international community should work together on an open, secure and peaceful cyberspace with the United Nations in a central role. Welcoming the progress made by the open-ended working group, she underlined the need for a permanent mechanism, such as a programme of action, to enhance norm implementation and encourage best-practice-exchange and capacity-building. Moreover, building on the outcomes of the working group and group of governmental experts, an action plan would ensure there was no vacuum of legalities in cyberspace. States should uphold the voluntary, non-binding norms laid out in the consensus reports. The principle of due diligence played a crucial role, but it required clarification and concretization. The Republic of Korea, among the leading ICT countries, endeavored to bridge the gap in cyberdefense capabilities and remained active in regional capacity-building. Engagement, empowerment and education of young generations could lead to valuable contributions to the global non-proliferation regime. The current export control regime on technology best served its purpose while upholding States’ right to its peaceful use.
İSMAIL AYDİL (Türkiye) said that as cyber discussions under United Nations’ auspices had reached “a certain level of maturity”, Member States must consider how to promote the implementation of existing normative frameworks. The report on ICT had indicated that its use in inter‑State conflicts was becoming more likely, underlined by the war in Ukraine. Setting up a programme of action on cybersecurity would be a good step forward, he said, adding that it would also benefit the promotion of dialogue and cooperation on capacity‑building issues, which was central for cyberresilience. Such an initiative would not duplicate or compete with the current open‑ended working group. Rather, it would consider the working group’s conclusions, together with the existing body of work, and contribute towards implementation, he said.
OGASAWARA ICHIRO (Japan) noted cyberspace had become an indispensable economic and social infrastructure — a “public space” in which all citizens could participate. He was concerned, however, over cyberattacks and malicious cyberactivities emanating from other States that damaged critical infrastructure, whether supported by those States or not. Japan’s position was clear: existing international law was applicable to all such operations. He welcomed the annual progress report adopted by consensus in the Open-Ended Working Group on Security of and Use of ICT 2021‑2025. Also crucial was to raise awareness among the public of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and the threat of diverse risks posed by their proliferation. Disarmament and non-proliferation education and awareness-raising should be undertaken in an inclusive and collaborative manner, and educational and research institutions, think-tanks, the scientific community, civil society, private sector and other actors should learn from each another and create synergies.
ROSANIS ROMERO LÓPEZ (Cuba) called for the adoption of additional disarmament and international security measures and the reduction of military spending. Negotiations on legally binding initiatives must prevent the militarization of outer space, cyberspace, lethally autonomous weapons and military attack drones. ICT must be used exclusively for peace. She rejected the use of telecommunications to support terrorism and divert the legal and political systems of other States. Regarding the United States, she opposed its cyberstrategy authorizing the use of offensive cyberweapons and preventative cyberattacks while rejecting the non-conventional methods of war being applied to Cuba. She condemned the use of new information technology and other digital platforms to destabilize her country, disseminate false news and foster regime change. She further opposed the United States’ Cuba Internet Task Force and called on that country to end its economic, trade and financial blockade, which restricted the access, use and enjoyment of ICT for the Cuban people’s well-being.
AHMAD SALMEEN (Kuwait) said many countries were dealing with the repercussions of cybersecurity, including Kuwait, both by individuals, criminals and foreign terrorists. He encouraged protection from the Internet from attacks and coordination by Member States at the regional and international levels. Cybersecurity was a critical component of defence, as it did not just target individuals, but also national security and economies. Kuwait was strengthening mechanisms for informational exchange between stakeholders, both local and national, within the framework of international security norms. It had created a National Cyber Security Centre, including a response team for cyber-emergencies as part of its national strategy to guarantee the security of its information networks.
He said that with the world facing an unprecedented technological revolution, came the increased the risk of cyberattacks, including theft of information, and breaches of security and confidentiality. Kuwait was also concerned about the use of autonomous weapons and the possibility of their acquisition by terrorists and criminal groups, which could use them with disastrous effects on infrastructure. All States should undertake efforts to achieve an international instrument to govern cyberspace while respecting State sovereignty, including the use of drones. Kuwait condemned all cyber- and pirate attacks that used drones, as well as all such activities with serious repercussions on the international level. Kuwait prioritised all global cybersecurity efforts, which were transparent and not politicised.
LUC JOTTERAND (Switzerland) was concerned about the increased use of cyberoperations as part of the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine, especially when directed against critical infrastructure. The potential for unintended consequences or spillover effects had increased, and Switzerland urged all parties to the armed conflict to respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including in cyberspace. Conflict in the age of cyberspace, robotics, life science technologies and genetic engineering raised fundamental questions about the future of warfare and humanity. It was a shared responsibility to prevent technological innovation from becoming an additional driver of conflict. To that end, Switzerland would continue to work for the respect of existing international law and for the implementation of voluntary norms, as well as, where appropriate, the development of new rules and innovative disarmament instruments.
Clearly, he said, civilian and military uses of cyberspace were growing, posing new challenges, which could only be met through the agreed Framework for Responsible State Behaviour in Cyberspace. The ongoing critical work of the open-ended working group was an opportunity to build on the consensus of international law application in cyberspace. The establishment of a platform for regular institutional dialogue on cyberspace within the United Nations also merited attention. Decisions should be based on inclusive deliberations that allowed all Member States to present their views and focused on supporting them in their efforts to implement the Framework. Switzerland supported the resolution on a programme of action to advance responsible State behaviour in the use of ICT in the context of international security, which would enable the United Nations to take that discussion forward.
Ms. VLADESCU (Romania), noting the eroding global arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, condemned the Russian Federation’s illegal, unjustified and unprovoked military aggression in Ukraine. Since 24 February, the Russian Federation had used conventional weapons, disinformation and cyberattacks. Malicious ICT activity by persistent State and non-State actors posed a significant threat to international security and stability, socioeconomic development and individual safety and well-being. Thus, she called for an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful cyberspace in full adherence to the Framework. She also echoed the working group’s call for Member States to adopt, by consensus, the draft resolution on the programme of action. Turning to the heightened need for strengthened transparency, she urged Member States to also approve, without a vote, the draft on transparent military expenditures — which only contains a few, minor technical updates. The United Nations Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures was an important tool for strengthening transparency, and she encouraged active participation.
JORGE VIDAL (Chile), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, welcomed all texts based on gender equality, along with those that sought to boost the rights of women and children in multilateral fora. He specifically welcomed the draft resolution on women, disarmament, non-proliferation and control of weapons, stressing that gender issues were indispensable in that field. Turning to ICT, he said that related threats affected States differently, according to their respective levels of digitization, capacity, infrastructure and development. States’ capacity to generate coordinated plans at the Government level, therefore, must be improved, as must their cooperation with the private sector, civil society and academia in that realm. The United Nations Charter provided the applicable normative framework for regulating State behaviour in cyberspace, along with relevant international law governing human rights and State responsibility.
FLAVIO DAMICO (Brazil) noted that the connection between disarmament and the Sustainable Development Goals resided at the very centre of his country’s efforts, with the potential to yield a substantial peace dividend. In 1960, the average military expenditure amounted to 6.3 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), but 60 years later, it had reached its lowest level, of 2.4 per cent. Current tensions, however, had dramatically reversed that trend, coinciding with a period of unprecedented Government deficits. “The only solace we can take from this situation is that, at a not too distant point in time, taxpayers will be compelled to decide on the dilemma between butter and guns.” On sensitive and emerging technologies, he called for security concerns to be carefully addressed, advocating for an open, accessible, peaceful and safe environment for the development, exchange and use of those technologies. He urged the Committee’s continued commitment to keep ICT on its active agenda, illustrating their strategic nature and urgency of proper regulation.
EDUARDO ALCIBIADES SÁNCHEZ KIESSLICH (Mexico), underscored the importance of women’s participation in achieving sustainable peace and in the relevant decision-making processes. Mexico would co-sponsor the resolution “Women, Disarmament, Nonproliferation and Weapons Control”. Likewise, he underscored his country’s commitment to education as means of prevention. Mexico would table a biannual resolution on the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme and the United Nations Study for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation. Finally, he voiced appreciation of seeing three Mexican citizens participate in the “Leaders of Tomorrow” initiative and expressed hope that the project would reach more young people and disseminate disarmament activity in their communities.
KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, condemned the use of ICT as a weapon to suppress fundamental rights and freedom of expression. In Myanmar, norms and standards of responsible State behaviour in cyberspace had eroded under the military dictatorship. A free, secure and open Internet was no longer feasible as the Junta exercised a “digital dictatorship”, with wiretapping and cyberattacks against its own people. Even posting a birthday wish on social media for State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi had landed some Government staff in jail. He urged the international community and the “tech industry” to help repeal the Junta’s misuse of ICT. He further drew attention to the recent incident of fighter jets bombing a concert held in A Nang Pa, resulting in the deaths of some 100 people. That was a crime against humanity and a war crime, and not an isolated incident. He urged Member States who were exporting deadly weapons to the military to stop immediately.
HEIDAR ALI BALOUJI (Iran) stated that the cyberspace and the ICT environment should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes. Member States should cooperate and act in full compliance with applicable international law. According to the mandate of the open-ended working group, regular institutional dialogue should be established under United Nations’ auspices, with the broad participation of the States. Initiatives should take into account the concerns and interests of all States. Countries such as the United States had not only started the weaponization of cyberspace, but its military had begun carrying out multiple cyberattacks. The Israeli regime also had launched many cyberattacks against Iran. Iran had long been the primary target and main victim of cyberattacks against its vital infrastructure, which disrupted the delivery of public services and governmental functions. The representative condemned all such attacks and urged the international community to hold the attackers responsible. If the United Kingdom was truly worried about potential effects on security, economy, society and humanitarian conditions, it should refrain from making hasty claims that spread false information.
Mr. CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said Pope Francis had written an ever increasing number of communications regarding the destiny of nations, but such unity was threatened by the malicious use of ICT, both by States and non-State actors, as technological development had not been accompanied by growth in human values and conscience. Thus, the Holy See welcomed the open-ended working group, which offered an opportunity to correct that imbalance. Cyberspace was a shared environment, requiring all to shift from the paradigm of competition to cooperation. State behaviour in cyberspace must respect fundamental human dignity and be bound by moral order and common interest. That obliged States to also respect the right to privacy, shielding individuals and their information from unauthorised access.
He said that those finding themselves in the most vulnerable situation must be protected from harm, and that included, not just protecting critical infrastructure, but also refraining from activities that harmed another State’s critical infrastructure. States must contribute to efforts to bridge the digital divide, which created cybervulnerabilities that threatened all States. He urged capacity-building processes that were politically neutral and without conditions, in order to ensure that divide was filled. New advances in ICT contributed to human development, but required new tools to protect human dignity. he open-ended working group should help ensure that all enjoyed the immense advances opening up before them.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said there had been hostile rhetoric in certain statements today. Countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and several other States had expressed support for the open-ended working group. However, they had voted against its establishment, not once, but twice. Did that mean that now they were speaking falsehoods? What should be believed, their words or their actions? Now, they were promoting the resolution on the programme of action, saying they were doing so in the interests of the working group. “Let’s discuss this initiative within the open‑ended working group in full accordance with its mandate and with earlier consensus agreements,” he said.
France’s actions and those of its partners seemed like an attempt to create a mechanism that would be suitable only for a few Western States, which would be making decisions and imposing them on the majority, he said. The initiative resembled a “manifesto of cybercolonialism”. The decision about the participation of non-State entities in the working group was the sovereign right of States. The representative strongly protested against the actions of the United States’ Government in using the “Visa weapon”, which essentially violated its obligations as the United Nations Headquarters host State. Absolutely unfounded accusations against the Russian Federation continued to be heard with regard to cyberaggression. That rhetoric was aimed at covering up an unprecedented cyberacquisition campaign against the Russian Federation and other States. There had been systematic aggressive activity in cyberspace carried out by social services of the United States and NATO countries. The number of attacks on Russian network resources had increased more than fourfold compared to the similar period last year. Most were coming from the United States or European Union countries. The scale of that cyberaggression showed that it was carried out in a coordinated manner by those Governments in cooperation with “hacker communities” and private companies.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, als speaking in exercise of the right of reply, categorically rejected the allegation of the United Kingdom levelled at his country. He was well aware of the United Kingdom's bad habit of recklessly accusing others without any specific evidence. On the other hand, the United Kingdom was frantically involved in different kinds of malicious acts in cyberspace, such as “The Five Eyes”, to interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign State. Nothing new was expected from the United Kingdom, which blindly followed in the footsteps of the United States in its hostile policy against his country. The United Kingdom's groundless allegation clearly revealed extreme prejudice and the utmost hostility against the game. The representative strongly urged the United Kingdom to return to its senses and reflect on its reckless, outrageous behaviour.
The representative of China rejected the United Kingdom’s groundless accusations against his country. China was firmly committed to preserving cybersecurity and was a major victim of cyberattacks. The Chinese Government combatted all forms of cyberattacks, which fully demonstrated its responsible attitude in that field. Cybersecurity was a common challenge facing all countries, and, thus, all countries should respond to such threats on the basis of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit, dialogue and cooperation. He urged relevant countries to stop their slandering and groundless accusations against China and to adopt a responsible attitude, as well as work with all parties to safeguard peace and security in cyberspace.
The representative of Israel said he rejected Iran’s fraudulent allegations. Judging by Iran’s behaviour in the cyberdomain, especially with its recent attack on Albania’s infrastructure, the representative’s remarks were no less than absurd. He also condemned recent cyberattacks on United Nations peacekeeping operations, both carried out by Iran and its proxies. As with so many issues discussed in this Committee, Iran was systematically working against the international community to bring about a collapse in the disarmament forum. Just as it sponsored terrorist groups, it attempted to use malicious tools in cybersecurity, too, to create fear and destruction among States worldwide.66
The representative of France said that, with regard to the remarks made by the delegation of the Russian Federation on the draft resolution aiming to establish a programme of action on cybercapacity- building, France had both transparently and openly proposed the draft, which had been discussed transparently and openly in Geneva and New York. It had been improved to take into account the many proposals made by delegations. The modalities of the programme of action would be discussed, allowing Member States to then adopt it, if they wished. That transparent and inclusive approach would continue until the end of the process.
The representative of Iran, in right of reply, said the country rejected the allegations made by Israel. Those lies were not surprising, as the regime had no respect for international law and had continuously initiated cyberattacks against many parts of Iran’s infrastructure, including peaceful ones. The dark record of human rights of Israel was known. Israel had violated 29 Security Council resolutions, which were legally binding on Member States under the Charter, including 2231 (2015), which it had missed no opportunity to kill. Such a regime had no moral ground to refer to international commitment to international law. With regard to cybersecurity, the situation was no better, and international observers had condemned Israel’s actions, as did Iran.
Ms. KRISTANTI (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, shared strong concerns at the growing resort to unilateralism. Multilateralism and multilaterally agreed solutions in accordance with the Charter was the only sustainable method of addressing disarmament and international security. He was deeply concerned at the strategic defence doctrines of the nuclear-weapon State and certain non-nuclear-weapon States who subscribed to extended nuclear security guarantees provided by the nuclear-weapon States. He called on all nuclear-weapon States to ratify related protocols to all treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free ones, withdraw any reservations or interpretative declarations incompatible with their object and purpose and respect the denuclearization status of those zones. She emphasized the importance of United Nations activities at the regional level to increase the stability and security of its Member States, which could be promoted in a substantive manner by the maintenance of the three Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament.
Mr. FULLER (Belize), on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the Community’s member States had adopted a practical approach to regional and subregional threats. Security was an integral pillar of its regional integration framework. The illicit flow of firearms was a “tier one” issue in its security strategy. Seven out of 10 homicides were committed by firearms, and there were more than 500,000 illegal firearms in Haiti alone. Those played a key role in transnational crime and had a profound socioeconomic impact and cost, while no CARICOM State was a manufacturer or major importer. The CARICOM security strategy noted that the negative impacts were not confined to State borders.
He said that preventing the illicit traffic was not only the responsibility of CARICOM, but also shared by weapons-producing States. In that area, CARICOM had taken concrete measures, including the provision of technical and advisory assistance, capacity-building, training, information sharing and promotion of a regulatory framework, among its Member States and in cooperation with other national, regional and international organizations. Implementation of United Nations mechanisms such as the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons and the International Tracing Instrument required financial and technical support. Small-island developing States lacked the resources. He added that redoubled efforts were needed to bridge the digital divide by technology transfers and to make the region cyberresilient.