Statement by Mr. Robert Persaud, Foreign Secretary & High Representative of UN Security Council Affairs of Guyana at the Security Council High-Level Open Debate on “Maintenance of International Peace & Security: Addressing Evolving Threats in Cyberspace”

Must read

21 Jun 2024

Thank you very much, Mr. President,

I thank you, Your Excellency Mr. Cho Tae-yul, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Presidency of the Republic of Korea for organising today’s Open Debate on Evolving Threats in Cyberspace. I also thank Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres and our distinguished briefers for their insightful contributions to the discussion.

Mr. President,

Rapid technological advancements have created a world of limitless possibilities, with enormous social, economic, and geopolitical benefits. However, as they become more sophisticated, digital technologies pose unprecedented risks to both human and national security when deployed by malicious actors. The malicious use of digital technologies has also demonstrated the potential to disrupt institutions and pose regulatory and policy challenges related to governance. Moreover, the transnational nature of cyber threats has rendered traditional notions of national security and defense obsolete.

The cybersecurity threats to which we are now exposed can have a crippling impact on the health, safety, and security of our citizens and the functioning of essential services. As the contemporary threats to cybersecurity become more sophisticated and multifaceted, ranging from state-sponsored cyber espionage, interference in democratic processes, human rights violations, attacks on critical infrastructure, and the spreading of misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech, so too must be our response.

In this regard, I suggest three areas for consideration.

Firstly, there must be accountability and oversight mechanisms to guard against cyberattacks. We note, in this regard, recent discussions around whether cyberattacks targeting critical infrastructure such as medical facilities or power plants with grave consequences for life can amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and/or the crime of aggression. This must be thoroughly examined and included in a global regulatory and legal framework which must also ensure that the development and use of digital tools and technologies are done with due regard for ethical considerations and respect for human rights. In this regard, Guyana recognizes the importance of concluding the work of the Ad hoc Committee to elaborate an international convention on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes and the need for a widely ratified convention.

Secondly, we must prioritize cooperation, collaboration, and partnerships to build cybersecurity capacity and resilience, and to investigate and prosecute cybercrimes across countries and regions.

In terms of partnerships, we must invest in building trust and enhancing regional and international collaboration to foster knowledge sharing, information exchange, and technology transfer. We must also seek to develop interoperability between our national, regional and international systems that deal with the tracking and monitoring of cybersecurity threats. To be effective, a global framework must be developed which caters for intelligence sharing amongst states and relevant stakeholders on the emerging threats to cybersecurity. While ongoing discussions within the UN and regional mechanisms have contributed positively to this endeavor, including within the framework of the Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation and the SDG Digital Acceleration Agenda, there remains a lot of work to be done.

We must also capitalize on the opportunities provided in the cyber domain and adopt a whole-of-society approach to counter cyber threats and bolster cybersecurity. New technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems can help to identify and mitigate such threats. In this regard, as governments, we must redouble our efforts to collaborate with tech companies and the private sector to develop stronger security tools and policies, and to enhance information sharing in the analysis of threat intelligence.

Further, many developing countries such as Guyana lack the necessary resources and expertise to combat cyber threats and build resilience. Building technical capacity in these countries must be viewed as an investment in our collective security, that would serve to remove existing inequalities and imbalances in cybersecurity capabilities. Considering this, as a global community, we can explore the possibility of setting up a global fund which caters for training and capacity building, as well as software and hardware development.

Furthermore, Guyana calls on developed countries with advanced technological capabilities to provide technical assistance and funding to enhance cybersecurity infrastructure and response capabilities in developing countries. We also urge that no effort be spared in ensuring that no single country or entity monopolizes the technological tools and capacities- which could further exacerbate the vulnerabilities in developing countries, for instance through the imposition of laws and regulations with extraterritorial impact.

Thirdly, Mr. President, notwithstanding the ongoing processes within other UN fora, the Security Council must be a part of the cybersecurity dialogue, given the threat posed by malicious cyber activity in the international maintenance of peace and security. The Council must therefore intensify its discussion on this issue by building on the Arria- Formula meetings and open debates, including the current debate, to raise awareness on emerging threats posed by new technologies and explore collectively, effective measures that can be deployed against the malicious use of such technologies.

Mr. President,

In closing, the challenges posed by cybersecurity threats are daunting but not insurmountable. Through our collective effort, will and concerted action, we can build a resilient and secure digital world that fosters trust, innovation, and prosperity for all. Let us seize this moment, not merely to respond to the threats before us, but to proactively shape a secure future and to ensure that no one is left behind. Guyana stands ready to work with all Member States towards this endeavour.

I thank you.

More articles

Latest article