Remarks by Cho Tae-yul, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea and Council President for June, at the Security Council meeting on addressing evolving threats in cyberspace

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June 20, 2024

Cho Tae-yul, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea and Council President for June, spoke in his national capacity to say that developments since its first meeting on the issue three years ago sharply underscore the need to step up engagement cyberspace threats.  In addition to the proliferation of attacks and the gaps in governance, highlighted in the Secretary-General’s report, dramatic advancements in AI have also significantly empowered nefarious actors to create chaos in cyberspace, he said, stressing their real‑world impacts. 

Highlighting that the development of the weapons of mass destruction imperilling his country are largely funded through such activities, he pointed to the most recent report of the Panel of Experts of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006) which said that illicit cybermeans funds 40 per cent of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programmes.

The Panel investigated some 60 suspected cyberattacks on cryptocurrency companies between 2017 and 2023 by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said, adding that, sadly, the Panel is now defunct.

“Through digital means, the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] systematically evades the very sanctions adopted by this Council and challenges the international non-proliferation regime that is integral to the Council’s work,” he said.

“The Security Council must not bury its head in the sand,” he said, urging the organ to strengthen its engagement in response to cyberspace threats.  Just as the Council and General Assembly work in synergy when it comes to discussions on small arms, terrorism and non-proliferation, they can carve out complementary roles on cybersecurity, he said.  To do so, the Council needs a clear diagnosis of the present situation and can request a regular report on how evolving cyberthreats impact international peace and security.

Second, the prescription that follows could be mainstreamed into the Council’s agenda like other cross-cutting issues, such as women, peace and security, youth and climate change, he said, noting the link between the malicious use of information and communications technology (ICT) and the various issues under the Security Council’s remit, including sanctions, non-proliferation and terrorism.

Third, the Council can convene meetings on malicious cyberactivities, urging all relevant actors to use cybertechnology in a responsible manner and pursuing accountability through the tools at the organ’s disposal.

“The Security Council must confront cybersecurity head on if it is to remain relevant and agile in addressing one of the most pressing security challenges of our time,” he said.

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