Seventy-eighth Session,
20th & 21st Meeting (AM & PM)

Without Adequate Guardrails, Artificial Intelligence Threatens Global Security in Evolution from Algorithms to Armaments, Speaker Tells First Committee

Cyberissues Have Become Foreign Policy Issues of Urgent Concern, Says Another

The window of opportunity to enact guardrails against the perils of autonomous weapons and artificial intelligence’s military applications is rapidly closing, as the world prepares for a “technological breakout”, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today during a day-long debate on how use of science and technology can undermine security.

“We are at the verge of a monumental step in human technological history, heralded by the advent of artificial intelligence,” said Pakistan’s representative, warning that its inevitable march from algorithms to armaments continues without adequate guardrails governing its design, development and deployment.  The scale of challenges necessitates a multifaceted and holistic multilateral response.

Cyberissues have become strategic foreign policy issues of urgent concern to all countries, said Australia’s representative.  For its part, her country will act in accordance with the UN framework for responsible State behaviour in cyberspace, and continue to publicly share how it implements, interprets and observes the framework.  Transparency breeds accountability, predictability and stability, she said, urging others to follow suit.

Sri Lanka’s delegate said that while humankind’s creativity is well-known, its ability to self-destruct through that creativity and the pursuit of short-term self-interest is also known.  “We can ill afford misadventures that peril our very existence”, he warned.  Enacting legislation and preventing illegal and criminal activities involving information and communications technology (ICT) is the primary responsibility of States concerned.  However, many developing countries are grappling with capacity constraints.

Cyberspace must not become a “new battlefield for rivalries”, warned Mexico’s representative, adding that cyberspace must remain open, free, stable, safe, accessible and resilient for everyone.  It is “alarming” to think that nations or even private entities can develop advanced offensive capabilities, which would potentially lead to destabilizing actions.

The Committee heard some proposals and initiatives to address these emerging threats.  South Africa’s representative, for example, supported proposals to establish a “threats repository and a global cybersecurity cooperation portal”. Cooperative measures are needed to address threats against ICT infrastructures, he said, stressing that maintaining international peace and security in cyberspace is a collective responsibility.

Many speakers expressed support for the mandate of the Open-Ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies 2021-2025.  Its Chair said that the group successfully adopted a second annual progress report in July.  One of the most important achievements was an agreement by States on the elements necessary to operationalize the global “Points of Contact” directory.  Once fully functional in 2024, all States can use the directory to communicate with each other in the event of a cybersecurity incident, fulfilling an idea more than 10 years in the making.

The Committee concluded that debate on other disarmament measures and international security, as well as on conventional weapons, and began its thematic debate on regional disarmament and security.

It will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 25 October, to continue its work.

Conventional Weapons

GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, in its capacity as observer, called for an immediate cessation of the use of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions in the war in Ukraine.  Use of these weapons endangers civilians, including children, and contaminates “our common home”.  Concerns for the moral implications of nuclear warfare should not be allowed to overshadow the ethical problem arising from contemporary warfare fought with conventional weapons.  Such weapons should be used only for defensive purposes.  The international community must place the dignity of human life at the centre of its efforts.  The Holy See renews its support for the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.  It also supports the Secretary-General’s call for a legally binding instrument on lethal autonomous weapons.  In the interim, he urged all not to develop those weapons.  From the economic point of view, war is more enticing than peace, as it promotes profits, but money earned from arms sales is money soiled with innocent blood.

Other Disarmament Measures and International Security

MOCHAMMAD IQBAL SIRIE (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, encouraged States to implement norms, rules and principles for responsible behaviour regarding information and communications technologies (ICT) while advancing discussions on implementation mechanisms.  The development of any international legal framework should account for the concerns and interests of all States, based on consensus within the UN and the active and equal participation of all States.  He supports a single-track, State-led permanent UN mechanism reporting to the First Committee.  Nothing in the legal framework should affect States’ inalienable rights to develop and use ICT for peaceful purposes.  Strongly rejecting the malicious use of new ICT, he called for intensified efforts to safeguard cyberspace from becoming a conflict arena and ensuring its exclusively peaceful uses.

SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand), speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that amid widespread economic digitization and the proliferation of Internet-connected devices across the region, ASEAN has become increasingly vulnerable to malicious activities in cyberspace, which have the potential to undermine peace and security.  ASEAN supports the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies 2021‑2025 as a confidence-building measure and a forum for building consensus on this important issue.  He welcomed the consensus adoption of the second annual progress report of the working group at its fifth substantive session in July.

He appealed to Member States to preserve consensus on the matter of cybersecurity and avoid creating parallel mechanisms or overlapping processes, which will only further strain finite resources of the United Nations and its Member States.  In this regard, it is important to have a single-track process that will build on the working group’s consensus recommendations on regular institutional dialogue.  ASEAN initiated the implementation of the ASEAN Cyber Shield Project 2023-2026 to complement the existing ASEAN capacity-building efforts, including the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence in Singapore and the ASEAN-Japan Cybersecurity Capacity Building Centre in Thailand.

SHEN JIAN (China), speaking on behalf of a group of States, said that it is the inalienable right of all States to participate in the exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for peaceful purposes.  Against the background of a new era and bearing in mind the potential impact of scientific and technological advances on global security, the significance of peaceful uses is ever prominent in facilitating economic and social development, particularly in developing countries.  Yet, undue restrictions on such exports to developing countries persist.  He reaffirmed the importance of promoting international cooperation for peaceful purposes and the need to further deliberate this topic within the framework of the UN, in an open and inclusive way.  He called upon Member States to continue dialogue on promoting peaceful uses and relevant international cooperation, including by identifying gaps and challenges as well as submitting ideas and opportunities for strengthening cooperation.

MICHAL KARCZMARZ, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said that all Members of the UN General Assembly have repeatedly affirmed the evolving framework of responsible State behaviour in cyberspace.  It is built upon the recognition that international law applies in cyberspace, adherence to voluntary non-binding norms of State behaviour capacity-building and the enhancement of practical confidence-building measures to reduce the risk of conflict.  Broad international consensus around these four elements has been “the foremost accomplishment of cyberdiplomacy in the last decade”.  But the Russian Federation’s war of aggression has seriously challenged the international rules-based order, including in the cyberdomain.  The European Union is working across a whole range of instruments to prevent, discourage, deter and respond to malicious cyberactivities, including the European Union Cyber Diplomacy Toolbox and the European Union’s Policy on Cyber Defence.

YASEEN LAGARDIEN (South Africa) said that States should use the existing 11 rules, norms and principles of responsible State behaviour in cyberspace in their current incarnation while considering a possible broader cooperation framework.  He also supported proposals to establish a “threats repository and a global cybersecurity cooperation portal”.  Cooperative measures are needed to address threats against ICT infrastructures. Maintaining international peace and security in cyberspace is a collective responsibility.  South Africa sees the Open-Ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies 2021‑2025 and its consensus outcome as trust- and confidence-building measures, ensuring the achievement of tangible outcomes and an action-oriented process.  The international community can remain constructively engaged during difficult geopolitical times.  It is vital to guard existing processes.

SULTAN NATHEIR MUSTAFA ALQAISI (Jordan), speaking for the Arab Group, condemned Israeli attacks on Gaza.  He called on States to review and implement collective and individual commitments in multilateral forums, and expressed concern about the increased military expenditures, which should be allocated to eradicating poverty in developing countries, including in the Arab world. Military spending must be aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Nuclear arsenals are the greatest threat to humanity. States should consider environmental standards when negotiating governing instruments.  Increased use of ICT by malicious actors breaches international peace and security.  The United Nations must develop binding instruments governing responsible behaviour.

MOCHAMMAD IQBAL SIRIE (Indonesia) said that his country launched a national cybersecurity strategy to address the emerging threats in this domain, enacted legislation to that end and is building capacity.  Given the precarious international security situation, Indonesia welcomes the second annual progress report adopted by the Open-Ended Working Group.  It is imperative to maintain the sanctity of the working group and avoid tabling competing resolutions that would create a parallel process. 

ABDELRHMAN MOHAMED FARID HEGAZY (Egypt) reiterated that non-discriminatory, multilateral and legally binding instruments are the most effective measures to achieve sustainable progress in disarmament and international security.  The lack of progress in addressing security threats in cyberspace is due to the “misguided belief” of some States that absolute dominance can be maintained, leading to an arms race no one can win as well as resistance to any equitable, multilateral legal regimes prohibiting the malicious use and weaponization of technologies.  Any future process must include a pillar on implementing the agreed framework and providing capacity-building to developing countries.  Such a mechanism should be a single-track, permanent, consensus-based and flexible one under UN auspices.  In closing, he reiterated calls for an urgent and unconditional ceasefire, unhindered humanitarian access and for Israel to immediately rescind attempts to forcibly displace over 1 million civilians in southern Gaza.

YILIAM GOMEZ SARDINAS (Cuba) stressed the importance of general and complete disarmament and called for the adoption of other disarmament measures to build a peaceful world.  To that end, it is imperative to reduce money spent on militarization and sophistication of weapons.  The money could be used to benefit humanity and achieve sustainable development. Member States must preserve multilateralism in the areas of disarmament and arms control.  The Open-Ended Working Group is the forum to discuss responsible behaviour in cyberspace on an equal footing.  She rejected the use of ICT to promote terrorism and regime changes and spread fake news.  Financial and economic blockades against Cuba undermine the benefits ICT can bring to its people.

PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka) stated that enacting legislation and preventing illegal and criminal activities involving ICT is the primary responsibility of States concerned. However, many developing countries are grappling with capacity constraints to integrating emerging technologies, trying to breach the digital divides while expanding national laws to regulate misuse and threats from inside and outside.  He supported the Open-Ended Working Group’s multilateral deliberations as the only inclusive UN mechanism with active and equal participation of all States.  While humankind’s creativity is well-known, its ability to self-destruct through that creativity and pursuit of short-term self-interest is also known.  “We can ill-afford misadventures that peril our very existence”, he warned. 

DIANE SHAYNE DELA FUENTE LIPANA (Philippines) highlighted the importance of multilateralism in disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.  She emphasized the positive impact of ICT on development and the need for responsible State behaviour to ensure stability and security in cyberspace.  The Philippines deplores the malicious use of ICT, which violates international law, and calls for collective efforts to safeguard cyberspace.  It supports the establishment of a single-track, State-led, permanent mechanism under the UN, reporting to the First Committee.  Such a mechanism should be open, inclusive, transparent and flexible to adapt to the evolving needs of developing countries in the dynamic ICT environment.  Competing resolutions are not helpful, and her country will continue to engage with delegations to arrive at language which can enjoy the widest support.  On lethal autonomous weapons, she commended the international community for recognizing the need to address the challenges they pose. 

SHIVANAND SIVAMOHAN (Malaysia) recalled that Member States at the Open-Ended Working Group agreed on common elements on which a future mechanism for regular institutional dialogue would be based.  These elements include “a single-track, State-led, permanent mechanism under the auspices of the United Nations, reporting to the First Committee”.  Member States also recognized the importance of the principle of consensus regarding both the establishment of the future mechanism itself as well as the decision-making processes of the mechanism. In this connection, Malaysia reiterates that parallel multilateral tracks should be avoided in key areas of disarmament and international security.  This is a matter of particular concern to smaller delegations from developing countries, given constraints in financial and human resources.

ROBERT IN DEN BOSCH (Netherlands) strongly supported France’s draft resolution setting out a clear timeline and objectives to establish a future mechanism in 2026 for regular institutional dialogue.  The programme of action would continue the progressive development of the normative framework for responsible State behaviour on a consensus basis and foster international cooperation to advance implementation.  He also proposed a needs-driven mechanism to facilitate capacity-building, using existing initiatives inside and outside the UN system. It is crucial to strengthen rules and norms on State-use of ICT, harnessing their potential for economic and social development while ensuring the safety of societies and individuals.

BRAULIO FAUSTO (Mexico) said that, in the digital era where the majority of human activities are interconnected through cyberspace, the international community must recognize that irresponsible behaviour can lead to cyberattacks, geopolitical tensions and even to conflicts.  That is why cyberspace must remain open, free, stable, safe, accessible and resilient for everyone.  “As we see it, the need to ensure international law, including international humanitarian law, in cyberspace is undeniable,” he stressed.  Mexico is firmly committed to the rigorous implementation of norms and principles establishing responsible State behaviour in this area.  For developing countries, regulating cyberspace is not merely a question of security, but rather a prerequisite for the sustainable use of cyberspace in its broader sense.  It is “alarming” to think that nations or even private entities can develop advanced offensive capabilities, which would potentially lead to destabilizing actions.  Cyberspace must not become a “new battlefield for rivalries”, he said. 

EMMA JANE MUTESI LUKABYO (Australia) said that never before has cyberspace been more contested.  This year continues to bear witness to unacceptable instances of malicious cyberactivity in the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere.  She highlighted the Russian Federation’s targeting of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.  Cyberissues have become strategic foreign policy issues of urgent concern to all countries.  Everyone bears responsibility to work together, and with industry, civil society and the technical community, to manage the complex international security challenges and to focus efforts on promoting peace and avoiding conflict. The UN has a strong history of fostering international cooperation to understand emerging threats and reduce risks to international peace and security.  Australia will act in accordance with the UN framework for responsible state behaviour in cyberspace, and continue to publicly share how it implements, interprets and observes the framework.  Transparency breeds accountability, predictability and stability, she said, urging others to follow suit.

JORGE VIDAL (Chile) appealed to all Members to support the Non‑Aligned Movement’s draft resolution on this cluster.  International law, particularly the Charter of the United Nations, provides the applicable normative framework to regulate responsible State behaviour in cyberspace.  On a programme of action, “we must be able to improve our capacities” and generate forums for cooperation and information exchange.  Cyberattacks and malicious cyberactivities may have a greater impact on certain groups, including older and vulnerable persons, women and girls. He called for greater representation of least developed countries in multilateral forums for discussions of disarmament and international security.

THARARUT HANLUMYUANG (Thailand) said that cybersecurity is one of the most significant matters in today’s interconnected world. Thailand reaffirms the importance of a rules-based cyberspace to prevent malicious acts and conflicts in cyberspace. It is essential that States continue to forge an understanding of how international law applies in the context of ICT and to identify whether gaps exist.  States must work together to elaborate additional guidance, including a checklist, on the implementation of norms.  Regular institutional dialogues that are open, inclusive and transparent are a necessary platform for discussion that could also be a venue for sharing best practices and enhancing capacity building efforts.  She went on to recognize the need for capacity-building programmes to help States enhance their cyberresilience.  “We encourage States in a position to do so to continue to support such programmes, which must be sustainable, politically neutral, transparent and demand-driven,” she added.

ABUALHAKAM SAADI (Iraq) joined calls for an end to brutal Israeli attacks on Gaza, and urged an immediate ceasefire, aid delivery and an end to forcible displacement in the Gaza Strip. Arms races and growing military spending significantly threaten regional and international peace and security.  It is imperative to reduce such threats and achieve sustainable development by 2030.  He promoted the universalization of treaties and instruments, including those on weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons.  If used, these arms are lethal to both humans and the environment.  Solutions found in multilateral forums remain the only way forward.  The UN plays a pivotal role in disarmament.  The use of ICT, which is growing, can threaten regional and international security.  He welcomed the second progress report of the Open-Ended Working Group.  

HUSHAM AHMED (Pakistan) warned that “we are at the verge of a monumental step in human technological history, heralded by the advent of artificial intelligence”.  Its inevitable march from algorithms to armaments continues without adequate guardrails governing its design, development and deployment.  The window of opportunity to enact guardrails against the perils of autonomous weapons and artificial intelligence’s (AI) military applications is rapidly diminishing, as the world prepares for a “technological breakout”.  The multilateral machinery’s response has been modest.  The scale of challenges necessitates a multifaceted and holistic multilateral response.  While discussions on lethal autonomous weapons systems should continue under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), other disarmament bodies should address the broader issue of AI’s military applications by building positive synergies while avoiding duplication.  At the same time, the right of all States to peaceful uses of science and technology should be guaranteed in a non-discriminatory manner without undue restrictions.  Efforts to regulate dual-use material and technology should be pursued within the UN and inclusive multilateral settings.

TIÉMOKO MORIKO (Côte d'Ivoire) said that hostile uses of cyberspace by State and non-State actors are on the rise, in rapidly evolving forms, sometimes with serious repercussions on every aspect of human life.  “This is a phenomenon that has no spatial limits; it seriously jeopardizes global peace and stability, which should be diligently remedied,” he stressed.  Any response must take place within an international and multilateral framework.  It should, among other things, focus on the protection of critical ICT infrastructure, which is increasingly enduring sophisticated attacks causing major disruptions, financial damage and even risking lives. Particular attention must be paid to encouraging regional efforts to facilitate the exchange of experiences and good practices.  He welcomed the continuation of discussions on establishing an action programme to promote responsible State behaviour. 

EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador) said that ICT is fundamental tools in today’s world, but their use is inconsistent with the norms of responsible State behaviour in cyberspace.  Their possible violations of international law, particularly the Charter of the United Nations, are serious international security challenges.  El Salvador is fully aware of the increase in the use of cybermeans to threaten critical infrastructures, including information infrastructures, and global supply chains.  These threats require a serious discussion on the norms of responsible behaviour, international law in cyberspace and measures that build trust, capacity and institutional dialogue.  For its part, her country participates in the Open-Ended Working Group to discuss these issues, and in consultations to provide input on the scope, structure and content of a future action programme on responsible State behaviour in cyberspace. 

MUHAMMAD ABDUL MUHITH (Bangladesh) emphasized the urgent need for comprehensive frameworks to govern AI and emerging technologies to ensure their responsible and ethical use.  Cyberspace is a global public good that should benefit everyone, everywhere, without discrimination.  In line with the Open-Ended Working Group, he supports the establishment of a single-track, State-led permanent mechanism within the UN.  “Our only hope for a free, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful ICT environment is through multilateralism.”  The UN should play a leading role in developing global cybernorms.  In the absence of an accepted structure, the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and relevant international law should apply to cyberspace.

MATÍAS ANDRÉS EUSTATHIOU DE LOS SANTOS (Uruguay) expressed concern over the increase in malicious ICT activities, particularly those impacting critical infrastructures such as in health care, security and defence.  Uruguay is strengthening its national information-security incident response centre by monitoring and minimizing the time required to detect and respond to incidents, reducing risks and generating significant savings for the country.  To address these real and potential threats, it is essential to increase cooperation and capacity-building, bearing in mind the differences that exist in each country.  “We believe that the main objective of capacity-building is to guarantee the safe, effective and significant participation of all States in cyberspace in order to take advantage of the sustainable development opportunities it offers.”  For Uruguay, digital transformation goes hand-in-hand with legal certainty. 

STEPHANIE NGONYO MUIGAI (Kenya) welcomed progress achieved by the Open-Ended Working Group.  ICTs are shaping the interconnected global society, redefining security and changing how diplomacy is conducted.  She stressed the importance of a multilateral approach to define the norms and principles of responsible State behaviour in cyberspace, and urged pioneering States to share expertise, including through the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise.  The international community must invest in preventive and preemptive measures.  For its part, Kenya established a team to respond to cyberincidents, as well as a coordination committee.  Regular institutional dialogue is paramount. Every voice must be heard. 

IVENS MANUEL FRANCISCO GUSMĂO DE SOUSA (Timor-Leste) expressed support for a future programme of action on cybersecurity as a possible framework that would be inclusive and transparent under the UN’s auspices and said that the Open-Ended Working Group, as an inclusive mechanism that reflects the interest of all States, remains the appropriate forum for its establishment.  For the action programme to be universal, it should focus on confidence-building measures, especially for developing countries in need of capacity-building.  As a small State establishing a necessary framework and policy on cyberspace, Timor‑Leste seeks cooperation to build capacity.  Coordination and sharing of best practices through bilateral, regional and multilateral platforms will strengthen national structures.  Also important is women’s equal participation in the disarmament machinery, he added.

CARLA MARIA RODRÍGUEZ MANCIA (Guatemala) said that the international environment is characterized by threats to peace as well as frequent acts against cyberspace which primarily target the poorest and most vulnerable.  Cyberspace has been used by criminal groups and terrorists.  “We must protect it through responsible State behaviour,” she added.  It is particularly disturbing that a number of States are developing information and communications technologies for military purposes, making the situation more complex.  “We need the participation and cooperation of all sectors of our countries to develop the technical and legal frameworks to ensure safe cyberspace globally and nationally.”  She reiterated the importance of having full transparency in the exchange of information and dissemination of good practices.  Guatemala currently has a national cybersecurity strategy that aims to strengthen its ability to create the environment needed to ensure equal participation and respect of human rights in cyberspace, she noted.

MATTIAS VAREM (Estonia), underscoring the impact of malicious use of information and communications technologies, condemned the Russian Federation’s use of cyberspace in targeting infrastructure and private companies, among others, to advance its military operations.  International law must be fully applicable to cyberspace, he declared, urging responsible behaviour by all States.  Estonia values the work of the Open-Ended Working Group and underscored the increasing interest of Member States on this issue.  He called for the establishment of a permanent mechanism, including the establishment of a single-track programme of action after the Working Group’s mandate ends in 2025.  It is important to harness expertise of the multi-stakeholder community, including the private sector and civil society, towards global cyberresilience, he added.

CHRISTINE NAM (New Zealand) supported France’s draft resolution as a clear and transparent pathway for all Member States to consider the development of a future programme of action’s scope, structure, content and modalities in a way that complements the Open-Ended Working Group.  A permanent, inclusive and flexible mechanism for regular institutional dialogue is needed to implement the framework for responsible State behaviour and facilitate capacity-building and dialogue. Moreover, she emphasized that the UN Charter is applicable in its entirety to cyberspace.  States should expect to be held accountable for malicious cyberactivity that is contrary to the Charter and international law.  She reiterated that cyberchallenges cannot be surmounted by Governments alone and that non-Government stakeholders provide a vital perspective and valuable expertise.

OGASAWARA ICHIRO (Japan) said that there are no borders in cyberspace, which is why international cooperation is an absolute necessity for all. The rule of law in cyberspace must be promoted.  International law, including the UN Charter and international humanitarian law, is applicable in cyberspace.  Given the rapidly changing nature of the ICT environment, priority should be focused on engaging in further concrete discussions on the application of existing international law.  Japan has been collaborating closely with international partners to enhance regional and global capacity-building efforts in the field.  On another subject, he said his country is the only one that has ever suffered the use of atomic bombs during war, and it attaches great importance to disarmament and non-proliferation education.  He noted various national projects under way to educate people about the horrors of that history.  “The tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki must not be repeated,” he emphasized.

LAURIN VAN DER HAEGEN (Switzerland) said that cyberattacks conducted by criminal actors against companies or private individuals, critical infrastructures or directly against States, such as the attack against Costa Rica, are exponentially on the rise.  A new open-ended working group should focus on the better understanding and the promotion and the implementation of the existing 11 voluntary norms before developing new ones.  The draft resolution introduced by the Russian Federation seems redundant and would duplicate the text introduced by the Working Group Chair.  It also raises substantive issues as it does not build upon consensus language, but, rather, takes a pick-and-choose approach, makes no reference to the consensual framework for responsible State behaviour in cyberspace and attempts to adapt the Working Group’s mandate.  This could call into question the progress made so far. Switzerland will not support this draft.

MOHAMMAD GHORBANPOUR NAJAFABADI (Iran) strongly condemned the Israeli regime’s grievous atrocities in Gaza.  This bloodshed and indiscriminate bombardment should be stopped immediately, and humanitarian aid should be delivered without hindrance.  On topic, he said that certain States, notably the United States, have engaged in the militarization of cyberspace and conducted multiple cyberattacks.  The Israeli regime also launched a series of cyberattacks against Iran, including the Stuxnet example.  He implored the international community to hold the perpetrators accountable.  He also rejects recent allegations of Iran being implicated in a cyberattack.  The Open-Ended Working Group’s ultimate success depends fundamentally on forging a substantive consensus and on the voluntary participation of Member States.  For it to function as a confidence-building measure, it must be vigilant in addressing the concerns and interests of all Member States.

MINELIK ALEMU GETAHUN (Ethiopia) said that developing countries need capacity-building programmes on technical and legal-related matters concerning ICT.  It is critical that the UN system and regional organizations play a key role in providing that support to enable developing countries to enhance their abilities at all levels.  Ethiopia is intensively working to utilize ICT capabilities to spur rapid economic growth as well as social change and build a more prosperous society.  In its efforts to develop ICT and effectively address cyberrelated problems, Ethiopia has encountered various challenges including a lack of financial resources and a lack of citizens sufficiently versed in the digital arena.  It, therefore, calls on the international community to provide demand-driven support to enable it to tackle the bottlenecks surrounding the use of ICT.

XAVIER BÉRARD-CADIEUX (Canada) said that securing an open Internet requires investments in gender equity and understanding the gendered impact of cybersecurity issues.  He noted the work done at the Open-Ended Working Group to recognize women’s diverse contributions, as well as the establishment of materials on the Working Group’s portal, and the ongoing Women in Cyber Fellowship programme.  Gender perspectives are not just vital in cyberspace but are also key to the work across the disarmament machinery.  Gender mainstreaming helps to create effective, long-lasting initiatives that help address the world's most pressing security threats.  One way in doing so is to collect and share age- and gender-disaggregated data on the impact of weapons.  Closing the gender gap is a prerequisite to a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world.

SHEN JIAN (China), noting that the international cyberlandscape is complicated and grave, stated that global cyberspace governance requires equal participation and joint decision-making by all countries.  He stressed the need to strongly uphold the UN’s centrality on information security issues and the Open-Ended Working Group’s authority as the only process under UN auspices.  All countries, especially major countries, should adopt a responsible approach to the research, development and application of AI technologies in the military field, while refraining from seeking absolute military advantage and undermining global strategic stability. China opposes disrupting the global AI supply chain through technological monopolies and unilateral measures, as well as drawing ideological lines or forming exclusive groups to impede other countries from developing AI.  His country also advocates for tiered and categorized regulation to ensure relevant weapon systems are always under human control.

KONSTANTINOS CHRISTOGLOU (Greece) said that malicious behaviour in cyberspace has resulted in targeting critical infrastructure, supply chains and intellectual property, among others.  Cyberattacks have also evolved to become one of the most important threats to peace and security.  Greece strongly supports the work that has been accomplished at the UN level, which has notably addressed the application of national law in cyberspace and has established norms of responsible behaviour and confidence-building measures.  The establishment of a permanent, inclusive and action-oriented mechanism will further develop frameworks of responsible State behaviour in cyberspace.  Greece is fully committed to continuing discussions at the UN on the issues of cybersecurity.

BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies 2021-2025, reported that the group convened two substantive sessions and a series of informal intersessional meetings over the past year.  It successfully adopted a second annual progress report in July 2023 that reflects all six pillars of the Working Group’s mandate.  States identified a range of threats, including some emerging threats that were identified for the first time in a consensus UN document.  On rules, norms and principles of responsible State behaviour, States agreed to take concrete action to accelerate the implementation of agreed norms, while continuing discussions on the prospect of introducing changes or elaborating additional rules of behaviour, he said. 

States also agreed on additional understandings on how international law applies to the use of information and communications technologies, he continued. For the first time, States agreed on an initial list of four voluntary global confidence-building measures, consolidating the work in this area from over the past 25 years, as well as concrete measures to intensify capacity-building efforts.  In this regard, it is proposed to convene a Global Roundtable on ICT security capacity-building in May 2024.  States agreed on a set of common elements that would underpin a future mechanism, including that the future mechanism should be “a single-track, State-led, permanent mechanism under the auspices of the United Nations”. 

Perhaps most importantly, States agreed on the elements necessary to operationalize the global “Points of Contact” directory, he added.  Once fully functional in 2024, all States will be able to use the directory to communicate with each other in the event of an ICT security incident, fulfilling an idea more than 10 years in the making.  The Working Group’s open, inclusive, transparent and universal nature has been critical to building trust and confidence amongst States, he noted, emphasizing that the Working Group itself has become a confidence-building measure. Making decisions by consensus leads to durable outcomes with a strong sense of ownership by all States.  The Group submitted a draft decision for the First Committee’s consideration, seeking the General Assembly’s endorsement of the second annual report, he said.

BRIAN WALLACE (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), supported the Secretary-General’s call for States to adopt a treaty to prohibit and regulate autonomous weapons systems by 2026.  While recognizing important work under the CCW, he emphasized the need to broaden discussions to accommodate potential negotiations on an international legally binding instrument.  No CARICOM member State is an arms producer, but developing nations are often more negatively affected by the use and trade of weapons.  Diverse perspectives must be present at disarmament fora to ensure decisions reflect worldwide concerns.  The under-representation of small island developing States in these fora must be addressed holistically, he said, adding that consideration of gender perspectives will advance disarmament goals.

LEE HYUN GOO (Republic of Korea) said that international cooperation in cybersecurity becomes increasingly undeniable as cyberthreats are transboundary.  In this regard, she drew attention to cryptocurrency thefts, which often are a financial conduit for illegal activities including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Member States must further embrace the multi-stakeholder approach in international cybersecurity cooperation, she said, highlighting in this regard, the annual World Emerging Security Forum hosted by her country since 2021.  “We must advocate capacity-building as the core of ICT security cooperation,” she added, pointing to Republic of Korea’s role in bridging the digital divide, which includes the State’s capacity to protect its critical infrastructure from malicious cyberattacks.  Meaningful engagement of younger generations in discussions on disarmament and non-proliferation has become even more relevant, she said, noting that her country will table a draft resolution titled “Youth, disarmament and non-proliferation”.

ANDREY BELOUSOV (Russian Federation) said that his delegation has submitted an annual draft resolution titled “Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security”, which would have the General Assembly stipulate that the decision on a future regular institutional dialogue on these matters should be taken on a universal basis within the current Open-Ended Working Group. The Russian initiative is unifying, non-confrontational and depoliticized, he said, adding however that a group of States is putting forward another text that proposes an alternative format, prejudging the results of the Open-Ended Working Group. That is another attempt to undermine the Group’s activities and impose on the global community a certain format that meets the interests of a narrow circle of States.  “A vote in favour of our document is not a vote for Russia; it is a vote for the continuation of result-oriented negotiations in the interests of strengthening peace, security and stability in information space, taking into account the views of all States without exception,” he said.

LEONARDO BENCINI (Italy), aligning himself with the European Union, reiterated his country’s commitment to a global, open, free, stable and secure cyberspace in which international law fully applies.  In this vein, he supported the draft decision of the Open-Ended Working Group, adding that the security of critical networks and telecommunication infrastructures is particularly important during armed conflicts to guarantee access to life-saving information and businesses.  These are pressing issues in the current challenging geopolitical environment and after the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine, he said.  In this context, Italy also supports the proposal to establish a programme of action on advancing responsible behaviour in cyberspace, he added.

BRUCE TURNER (United States) urged every Member State to support France’s draft resolution to establish a permanent mechanism after the Open-Ended Working Group concludes.  The United States is gravely concerned about — and cannot support — the Russian draft resolution with its controversial, non-consensus language that reinterprets the Working Group’s work and undermines existing consensus documents.  The Russian Federation and its friends also continue to conduct flagrant, malicious activity in cyberspace with impunity, he added.  He reaffirmed his country’s strong support for broad and equitable access to goods and technologies that facilitate current and future economic development.  Regimes to expand access to technologies through safe and responsible transfers provide much-needed guardrails to ensure they are not diverted toward military purposes. All countries should seek these safeguards, he added.

ANMOL SHER BEDI (India), introducing a draft resolution titled “Science and technology in the context of national security and disarmament”, noted that scientific and technological developments can potentially have both civilian and military applications.  The text emphasizes the need to regulate technology transfers for peaceful purposes, in line with international obligations to prevent proliferation risks from both States and non-State actors.  India supports the promotion of peaceful uses of science and technology through technology transfers, information-sharing and equipment exchange, he said, calling for the regulation of international transfers of dual-use goods and technologies, especially those with military applications.  Highlighting the rapid advancements in various scientific disciplines, including biosciences, artificial intelligence and data applications, he emphasized the need for an interdisciplinary approach to understanding implications and formulating responses to mitigate adverse impacts.  Regarding cybersecurity, he said that India advocates for an open, secure, stable and peaceful ICT environment.

CAMILLE PETIT (France) said that cybersecurity is a major issue at a time when the frequency, sophistication and severity of cyberattacks perpetrated by State and non-State actors are increasing.  Reiterating France’s commitment to the normative framework for responsible State behaviour, she said that States have repeatedly underscored the usefulness of working towards a permanent mechanism on cyberissues to guarantee increasingly necessary institutional stability.  With a cross-regional group of States, France has promoted the creation of a programme of action on cybersecurity that will act as a permanent, inclusive and action-oriented mechanism.  The adoption by 157 votes of General Assembly resolution 77/37 demonstrated the will of a very large majority of States to see progress on this issue. This year, France is again presenting a draft resolution, complementary to the draft decision tabled by the Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group, which is based on consensus language to reduce current divergence of opinion in a pragmatic way.  It does not create any new concepts and neither is there an overlap, she said.

FLÁVIO SOARES DAMICO (Brazil), citing the Secretary-General, said that ICT issues can be equated to air and water — resources without which life would be unthinkable.  Stressing the importance of a “single-track discussion,” he said a unified stance will allow countries to benefit from digital transformation.  The international community must consider ways to effectively facilitate a permanent global dialogue on promoting an open, secure, accessible and peaceful cyberspace.  Also stressing the need to promote confidence-building in the cyberdimension, he said these common objectives are at risk of being sidelined by current geopolitical circumstances.  “Unfortunately, once again, we are dealing with competing draft resolutions related to the same issue,” he said, expressing frustration about the potential divisiveness and harmful duplication of efforts.  Emphasizing the need to build on the decision to establish a directory of “Points of Contact” and the adoption of concrete capacity-building actions, he said it is time to let the Open-Ended Working Group finish its job.

LARBI ABDELFATTAH LEBBAZ (Algeria) expressed support for the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies.  This consensus-guided Group, offers an inclusive platform where all States participate equally, he said, adding that despite challenges, the Group remains a unique forum for understanding evolving threats linked to the malicious use of ICT.  The international community's ability to prevent or mitigate the impact of malicious activities in this field hinges on each State's readiness to respond effectively.  Therefore, the current Open-Ended Working Group should establish, before the end of its mandate, the necessary mechanisms to provide assistance and cooperation to developing countries upon request.  Such assistance should encompass financial resources, capacity-building programmes and technology transfer in the ICT sector, he said.  

BALQEES JANAHI (Bahrain) noted that the world is witnessing the break-neck pace of ICT development and stressed the need for its peaceful use.  She recognized international efforts to address cybersecurity threats and outlined the work her country is undertaking in this domain.  Bahrain has created a national strategy and a cybersecurity centre.  The Government is raising public awareness, strengthening governance and conducting training of civil servants.  It is imperative to protect critical infrastructure that provides basic services from cyberattacks.  Her country will continue constructive cooperation in this realm.

ABD-EL KADER YASMIN TCHALARE (Togo) insisted on the need to streamline proposals and work toward establishing a permanent, single-track and State-led mechanism under UN auspices based on an inclusive, transparent, flexible and consensus-based process.  He stressed the need to respect principles of international law in ICT use, including State sovereignty, peaceful dispute settlement and the prohibition of the threat or use of force against territorial integrity or political independence.  Togo supports the proposal to hold discussions with international legal experts and would like to strengthen the importance of capacity-building and overcoming security challenges posed by ICT use.

NOHRA MARIA QUINTERO CORREA (Colombia) highlighted a recent cyberincident that affected various Colombian State institutions and resulted in compromised personal data.  This incident underscores the increasing exposure of States to potential threats affecting critical infrastructure, information infrastructure and the overall availability and integrity of the Internet.  She stressed the imperative of capacity-building in addressing existing and potential threats, emphasizing that States’ capacities will determine their ability to implement responsible behaviour norms for the use of ICT and effectively address threats.  The absence of capacities in this field is a vulnerability, both at the national and global levels.  Colombia is committed to working constructively within the current Open-Ended Working Group, she said, underscoring the need for institutional dialogue.

MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) recalled that, over a year ago, her country experienced first-hand cyberattacks targeting critical infrastructure.  These had devastating and lasting consequences for trade, the health-care system, finance and, particularly, for citizens.  The situation in Costa Rica is not unusual.  In 2022, the number of attacks launched against critical infrastructure doubled around the world.  The gender-skewed impact of cyberviolence is well known, but insufficiently examined.  It is reported that 38 per cent of women in 51 countries have personally suffered cyberbullying.  Against this backdrop, there should be a greater commitment to research and data collection.  Cyberspace should not be a lawless arena, she underscored.

GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, in its capacity as observer, welcoming the adoption by consensus of the second annual progress report of the Open-Ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies, noted the increasing number of cyberattacks on hospitals, medical and educational centres and humanitarian networks. As the largest non-governmental provider of health care, education and humanitarian services in the world, the Catholic Church has faced numerous such attacks.  He urged States to implement the consensual decision to create a global inter-governmental “Points of Contact” directory to facilitate confidence-building in cyberspace.  He welcomed the proposal to develop a norms implementation checklist to assist States, as this, together with generous capacity-building support, can help reduce the digital divide. 

Regional Disarmament and Security

ARRMANATHA CHRISTIAWAN NASIR (Indonesia), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern about the growing resort to unilateralism and stressed the importance of multilateralism.  Only multilaterally agreed solutions provide a sustainable method of addressing disarmament and international security issues.  The Movement’s State parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) are concerned about the strategic defence doctrines of nuclear-weapon States and certain non-nuclear-weapon States. The Movement calls on them to exclude use or threat of use of nuclear weapons from their military and security doctrines. 

He expressed full support for the establishment of a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  He urged all parties concerned to take urgent and practical steps to implement the proposals made by Iran in 1974 and by Egypt in 1990 and 2013.  Pending the establishment of such a Middle East zone, the Movement calls on Israel, the only party in the region not acceding to the NPT to renounce its possession of nuclear weapons and join the Treaty without delay.  Israel should also place all its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

Mr. NASIR (Indonesia) called on all nuclear-weapon States to ratify related protocols to all treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones.  These States should withdraw any unilateral reservations or interpretative declarations incompatible with the object and purposes of the zones.  They also should provide unconditional assurances against the threat or use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances to all States in such zones.  Every non-nuclear-weapon State has an important role to ensure their territory will not in any way be used in contravention with the objective of disarmament and non-proliferation.  Regarding the Korean Peninsula, a common objective should be complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.  There is no alternative to a peaceful solution to resolve the crisis. 

AMRESEAM AHMED (Egypt) expressed sympathy for the Palestinians in Gaza, who are under siege by Israeli occupying forces, and called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and unimpeded access to humanitarian assistance.  The Middle East remains a volatile region with ongoing armed conflicts, he said, noting that peace and security cannot be achieved through military superiority and geopolitical hegemony.  He further lamented the missed opportunities for establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region, recalling, in this regard, the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, which called for the placement of all nuclear facilities in the region under full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.  Ahead of the upcoming Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, he urged Member States not to miss an opportunity to engage in a constructive, inclusive and consensus-based process.

Mr. NURKEN (Kazakhstan) recalled the signing of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia in 2006, which promotes peaceful use of nuclear energy and the recovery of territories affected by radioactive materials.  The Protocol to the Treaty on negative security assurances, signed by the five nuclear-weapon States in 2014, is another important milestone for enhancing security in the region and globally.  He expressed hope that the United States will ratify the Protocol soon.  Kazakhstan, together with the Office for Disarmament Affairs and its Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, organized regional workshops on issues related to nuclear-weapon-free zones, a fissile material cut-off treaty, the Arms Trade Treaty and the Biological Weapons Convention, he reported. 

HUSHAM AHMED (Pakistan) reaffirmed the need for simultaneously pursuing regional and global approaches to disarmament and arms limitation.  Noting that most threats to peace and security arise mainly among States located in the same region or subregion, he highlighted the core principles that have been agreed at the UN to shape these approaches. These include preservation of balance in the defence capabilities of States at the lowest level of armaments, as well as the special responsibility of States with larger military capabilities.  He stressed the importance of confidence-building measures, adding that, at the regional level, they should be tailored to the specifics of the region.  However, they should not become an end in themselves, he said, stressing the need to eliminate underlying disputes.  Noting that his country has tabled its three traditional resolutions on regional disarmament, confidence-building measures and conventional arms control at regional and subregional levels, he said these drafts recognize the complementarity between regional and global approaches.

SULTAN NATHEIR MUSTAFA ALQAISI (Jordan), speaking for the Arab Group, stressed the need to end the Israeli war against Gaza, and called for sustained and continued humanitarian access and an end to forcible displacement.  He recalled General Assembly resolutions and the outcome of the Assembly’s first special session devoted to disarmament and said that all these documents clearly underscore the relations between disarmament and international peace and security.  Establishing zones free of nuclear weapons contributes to peace, but it is not an alternative to general and complete disarmament.  Such zones exist in Latin America, Africa and elsewhere, but not in the Middle East.  Concrete steps must be taken to achieve the goal of creating such a zone as advocated in many UN resolutions.  The League of Arab States submitted a draft resolution (document A/C.1/78/L.2) titled, “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”.  Arab States have done their part, and it is up to the other party to do its part. Israel continues in its refusal to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and subject its nuclear facilities to IAEA safeguards.

YILIAM GOMEZ SARDINAS (Cuba) called on nuclear-weapon States that have issued interpretative declarations to Protocols I and II of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, to withdraw them, as they are inconsistent with the Treaty.  For nuclear weapon-free zones to achieve their goals, nuclear Powers must act according to responsibilities encumbered upon them.  They should respect the status of these zones and withdraw their reservations and interpretative declarations.  She also reiterated Cuba’s staunch commitment to the tenets of the declaration in 2014 of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace.  These tenets should guide relations within the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and with the rest of the world.

MATÍAS ANDRÉS EUSTATHIOU DE LOS SANTOS (Uruguay) said the Treaty of Tlatelolco — the first global-level ban on nuclear weapons — has inspired the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in other regions of the world.  As an active member of the Treaty, Uruguay has consistently advocated for the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones worldwide, seeing them as effective means to work towards the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.  He expressed deep about the potential for terrorists to acquire nuclear and other mass destruction weapons.  His country has ratified approximately 19 universal and regional legal instruments to counter this threat and promote peaceful resolution of disputes.  Uruguay has collaborated with Bolivia and Chile to address the criminal acquisition of radioactive materials, he said.

AIDAN LIDDLE (United Kingdom) noted that the Russian Federation’s unprovoked, premeditated and barbaric war against Ukraine continues to destabilize Europe.  He condemned the terrorist acts committed by Hamas on 7 October and Iran’s destabilizing activity in the Middle East, reporting that his country has interdicted three Iranian shipments of cruise missiles and ballistic missile components since 2022.  Syria’s chemical weapons programme also remains a threat to international peace and security. In Asia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s illegitimate nuclear and ballistic missile programmes pose significant challenges to the international community’s non-proliferation objectives.  He also detailed the United Kingdom’s support for a project on the implementation of the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap. 

WAJDI HASSAN M. MOHARRAM (Saudi Arabia), condemning the Israeli occupation’s bombing of the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, called for the immediate cessation of hostilities.  Reaffirming the importance of the non-proliferation system, he expressed his country’s commitment to peaceful cooperation, which has led it to promote regional understandings that bolster security and prosperity.  Expressing appreciation for the IAEA, he said its verification and supervision roles are key.  He highlighted its neutrality and stressed that the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East is crucial to disarmament and regional and international security.  Stressing the inherent right of each State to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, he rejected attempts to impose limits on how they can do so.  He noted that the Agency has a crucial role in facilitating technology transfer to developing countries.

MD RAFIQUL ALAM MOLLA (Bangladesh) said that regional disarmament is a cornerstone of global peace and security.  It is not a mere policy choice but an imperative for the maintenance of international peace and security.  Enhanced regional cooperation, including on transparency and confidence-building measures, remain critical to meaningful dialogue.  He stressed that trust forms the bedrock of the collective security system, as stated by the Secretary-General in his New Agenda for Peace. Also crucial is establishing regions free of nuclear weapons, he said, urging nuclear-weapon States to join those initiatives.  He advocated for the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East.  Additionally, he stressed the central role of the UN Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament.

Right of Reply

The representative of Saudi Arabia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, condemned the continued attacks by the Israeli occupation forces against civilians.  Saudi Arabia holds the Israeli occupation forces fully responsible for the continued violation of all international laws and norms.  He called for an immediate ceasefire, access for humanitarian assistance and the cessation of forcible displacement of the Palestinian people.

Speaking in the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea emphasized his country’s self-reliance in bolstering its defence capabilities and launching a military satellite.  His country is not reliant on external support in contrast to the Republic of Korea’s dependence on the United States for its security.  He criticized Security Council resolutions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, noting a lack of objectivity, impartiality and equity.  Highlighting the joint military exercises and deployment of nuclear assets in the Korean Peninsula by the United States, he questioned how these can be justified as defensive, especially when scenarios involving occupation of the capital city and decapitation are part of these exercises. 

The representative of Iran, in right of reply, expressed regret that the United States, as a non-compliant State party to its obligations including the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, continues to level unfounded accusations against Iran. It lacks the moral authority to accuse other States parties and call for their compliance with disarmament and non-proliferation regimes.  Drawing attention to the United States’ support for “Saddam’s regime” and chemical attacks against Iran, he outlined its record of non-compliance with relevant international instruments.  Rejecting the regional accusations made by the same delegation, he noted that he will address them as well as the historical detrimental role of the United States in the Middle East and North Africa at a later stage. 

The representative of the Russian Federation, in right of reply, expressed concern about attempts to politicize the Committee’s agenda.  He rejected all unsubstantiated allegations that his country organized attacks on Ukraine’s information infrastructure.  This is a ploy to divert attention from their own malicious acts, he said, also rejecting the portrayal of Ukraine as a victim of his country’s cyberaggression. The Russian Federation is systematically subjected to cyberattacks from Ukraine as well as from the territories of Western countries.  Highlighting the work of “the Ukrainian IT army” created with United States assistance, he said that his country has the ability to defend itself, and any destructive attack on its ICT infrastructure will be met with appropriate response. Further, the countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have been turning cyberspace into a field of military operations, he said, noting their use of cyberlaboratories in Eastern Europe.  In the near future, hackers bred by the United States and its allies, may turn their cybertools against their own masters, he warned. 

The representative of Israel, in right of reply to statements from the Arab Group and Iran, urged the Arab Group to condemn the attack by Hamas terrorists on Israel and to promote the immediate release of all hostages. “Genocidal, ISIS-like organizations” like Hamas threaten the entire region, not just Israel.  Hamas’ savage attack on 7 October must serve as a clear warning sign and urgent call to action regarding threats posed by Hamas and other Iranian-sponsored terrorist groups. 

In the cyberdomain, Iran systematically risks the international community’s security interests and weakens the global arms control architecture.  In the UN, Iran behaves like a very responsible actor, but it is just an act. While calling for a legally binding treaty on cybersecurity, Iran trains its hackers to plot ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure, including hospitals.  Iran not only sponsors terrorist groups by proliferating conventional weapons, but also uses malicious ICT tools to further destabilize the region and world.

The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, in right of reply, expressed his full support for international cooperation in the peaceful use of technology and for the work of the IAEA and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the third countries.  He raised concerns about the UN resolution on “Promoting international cooperation on peaceful uses in the context of international security”, which was first submitted in 2021.  The European Union, along with a significant group of Member States voted against it.  The Union’s primary concern is the perceived false dichotomy in the text between the peaceful use of controlled technologies and export control regimes and non-proliferation measures.  The Union is particularly worried about the unfounded suggestion that export control measures unduly restrict the export of sensitive items.

The representative of Kuwait, in right of reply, condemned the Israeli hostilities that continue in the Gaza Strip and the unilateral measures taken to change the historical and legal status quo in the Occupied Territory.  The Israeli occupation has carried out military operations of barbaric vengeance, affecting civilians and attacking public institutions, schools and places of worship.  She rejected the “lies stated in this room” and refused to categorize Palestinian civilians as collateral damage.  She also noted that her country is party to all disarmament-related conventions and treaties.  The principled reason for the impasse in establishing a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East is Israel’s refusal to accede to the NPT and to submit the entirety of its programmes and facilities to IAEA verification.

The representative of Syria, in right of reply in response to the United Kingdom’s delegate, said his statements on regional challenges to the non-proliferation regime in the Middle East failed to refer to the nuclear military programme that is producing hundreds of warheads outside IAEA safeguards.  He also did not refer to the presence of an arsenal of nuclear and biological weapons, which are not under any international inspection.  Those who protect the Israeli nuclear arsenal have no credibility when they talk about efforts aimed at promoting Middle East peace. 

The representative of China, in right of reply to the European Union’s statement, firmly opposed the delegate’s wrongful interpretation of China’s draft resolution on peaceful uses of science and technology. Non-proliferation export controls should not undermine the rights of countries to peaceful uses, which are explicitly provided by international law.  For two consecutive years, the General Assembly adopted resolutions stressing this right and urging relevant countries to lift excessive export control measures.  Any responsible countries should not turn a blind eye to this.  The current export control mechanism should show openness and cooperation.

Responding to the statement made by Israel, the representative of Jordan, in right of reply on behalf of the League of Arab States, condemned the crimes that Israel continues to perpetrate against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and called for an immediate end of hostilities.  Instead of justifying crimes against defenseless civilians, the international community must ensure that international law prevails.  “The basis of this conflict is an occupation which continues to persist and which deprives the Palestinian people of their rights to life,” he said.  The League of Arab States calls for humanitarian aid to be provided immediately to the people in the Gaza Strip, he said, noting that deprivation of food, water and medicine constitutes a war crime.  Forced displacement of the Palestinian people is a war crime and “a red line, which must not be crossed”, he concluded.

The representative of Iran rejected “the absurd statement by the representative of the Israeli regime”, including baseless allegations of cyberattacks that is more the Israeli established practice in cyberspace, especially against his country. The Israeli regime, which is internally unstable and externally vilified for its atrocities, continues to blame others for its failings and deflect the international community’s attention away from its sole role as a destabilizing force in the Middle East.  Israelis have dropped more bombs on Gaza during the last few days than the Coalition dropped on Afghanistan in a whole year.  Rather than denouncing the brutality of that regime, some States that are proponents of humanitarian interventions in other countries only emboldened the regime by expressing their support and supplying sophisticated weapons, he said.

The representative of the Russian Federation, in right of reply, asked why it has become necessary to replace the Open-Ended Working Group before the end of its mandate.  He said, “we never heard a clear answer to that question.”  Nor is it clear why it has been proposed to first establish a new format and only then determine what and how it will proceed, what goals it will pursue and how it will make decisions.  The words of Western delegations run counter to their actions, he said, adding that the submission of their draft this year is simply an attempt to undermine the current Open-Ended Working Group and its consensus-based decision-making.

For information media. Not an official record.